12 line Ionic, and Giveaway

An amusing, hesitantly engraved illustration found on the foot of the Ionic capital V shown above.

Write a comment with your best explanation of what the image is supposed to be illustrating. I’ll choose my favorite and mail the winner a combined proof of the 12 line Ionic capital letter V and the engraving on the bottom of the block.

12 line Ionic

I discovered a leak in my garage this morning. If I parked my car in the garage a leak would be of little concern. However, about half of my type collection is stored there. Big concern. I had to rearrange the type and galley cabinets to move them out of harms way. Though four or five galleys containing steel furniture actually had standing water in them, sheer luck spared the type.

After the heavy lifting, I rewarded myself by looking through the cases to admire all the dreamy type. I was snapped out of my reverie when I came across two numeral 1 sorts that didn’t belong with the rest of the font in the case. I believe these itinerant characters belong to a 12 line font of Vanderburgh, Wells & Co. Ionic that’s kept safe and dry inside the apartment. Reunited and it feels so good.

The hickey near the bottom of the main stem (visible in the proof) was caused by a spot of ancient dried ink on the face of the character.

Every Good Pirate’s Favorite Letter

12 line Ionic

Call it Egyptian, Clarendon, Ionic, or Slab Serif, but no less an authority than Nicolete Gray called this style of letter “. . . the most brilliant typographic invention of the (nineteenth) century.”¹

Clarendon was the first typeface that I learned to recognize and the first that I proclaimed as my favorite. And though my tastes have evolved and my favorite typeface changes on a bi-weekly basis, the perfectly balanced combination of the vernacular with touches of sophistication – like the voluptuously curved leg on this Ionic capital R – will continue to endear this design to me.

¹Nicolete Gray Nineteenth Century Ornamented Typefaces

V.W. & Co. 18 Dutch St. NY imprint

This is the imprint of Vanderburgh, Wells & Company used between 1864–1867.

Thor Would Be Jealous

12 line Ionic

This 7 reminds me of a fancy antique hammer. It comes from the same font as the capital C shown on January 5. To see more fonts from the Vanderburgh, Wells & Co., check out the excellent Web Museum of Wood Types & Ornaments, a generous gift to the world from Unicorn Graphics. Note the difference between the manufacturer’s imprint found on my font and the stamp shown on the Unicorn Graphics fonts.


12 line Ionic

Ionic belongs to the Antique category of wood types. Characterized by heavy, bracketed, slab-serifs, Ionic is very similar, often indistinguishable from Clarendon. In fact the names have been used interchangeably. For more background, see Mitja Miklavcic’s excellent essay, Three chapters in the development of clarendon/ionic typefaces.

Unfortunately, my font is missing the G and the 1, and I don’t have the lowercase. Despite its age (see the imprint note below), all of the present characters are in remarkably good condition.

I was pleased to find the following imprint: V.W. & Co. 18 Dutch’s Street, NY, indicating that this font was likely made between 1864–1867 before the Vanderburgh, Wells & Co. factory in Paterson, New Jersey burned to the ground, and the wood type-making machinery was moved to New York. Here’s a rubbing of the imprint: