It’s not everyday one can witness a master sign painter at work, unless it’s everyday of the Wayzgoose. Saturday, November 5 was Don Black’s birthday, so after Rick Griffith printed an appropriately fabulous, oversized birthday card, John Downer added his version of Aetna. The card was signed by many of the Wayzgoose attendees and presented to Don during Saturday evening’s festivities.
During the Hatch Show Print workshop on Saturday, I caught Bill Jones printing. What do Bill and John Downer have in common?
Bill has been working on reviving Aetna via Virgin Wood Type. His awesome, five-panel accordion business card features 5 line Aetna capitals in brilliant blue.
Last weekend, at the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum Wayzgoose, I had the long awaited pleasure of meeting Bill Jones, of Virgin Wood Type fame, in person. Bill and his wife Geri McCormick are good people doing great things for the wood type and letterpress printing community.
Visit the Virgin Wood Type website to get your very own font of Mansard Extra Bold, or any of the other 20 plus faces Bill is cutting in high quality, end grain maple, using a combination of traditional and contemporary tools and techniques.
Bill Jones at Virgin Wood Type is producing new end grain fonts of Mansard Extra Bold, caps and figures in 6, 8, 10, and 12 line.
Nothing like spending a few hours in the studio on a holiday weekend proofing some brand new wood type.
Virgin Wood Type Mfg. Co. is profiled in the recent Type Matters issue of HOW magazine. It’s great to see this kind of national coverage for wood type and letterpress printing. It’s too bad that a multimedia enterprise with a mission to provide “creative whys and hows behind noteworthy projects, and profiles of professionals who are influencing design” neglected to credit the revival of a typeface (Aldine Expanded, shown in the first and second images, top left) to its designer (that would be me).
It’s also pretty lame that an email to the editors has received no reply whatsoever. An email from the magazine’s executive editor informed me that a correction will run in the January 2012 issue.
Shadow was the American Wood Type Manufacturing Company’s version of Umbra, designed in 1932 by Robert Hunter Middleton for the Ludlow Typograph Company, Chicago. This 12 line font was purchased in 2010 from Virgin Wood Type. The majority of the blocks were new old stock. To complete the font, Bill Jones cut the missing characters from the AWT patterns.
Locking up this much type requires a lot of furniture and spacing material. Most cabinets do not accommodate it, but I’ve cut a generous amount of furniture in 8 and 12 pica lengths (and varying widths) for just such occasions.
Before printing the wood type, I printed a short colophon using 12 point Goudy Old Style. With such extreme size contrasts, the print quality is dramatically improved by splitting up the runs. If I had tried to print the 12 point metal type and the 8 line (equivalent of 96 points) together, the small Goudy Old Style would have been drastically over inked and the comparatively giant Aldine Expanded would have been anemic.
The finished broadside, 12.5 x 19 inches; two colors, three runs; printed on one of my favorite sheets, Mohawk Superfine Soft White Eggshell 80 cover. Available to purchase from Smart & Wiley through our Felt & Wire Shop.
Limited edition postcards announcing Virgin Wood Type’s Aldine Expanded. Letterpress printed onto sturdy Mohawk Loop Antique Vellum Kraft 110 dtc (double thick cover) using handset 8 line VWT Aldine Expanded, 10 point Univers 55, and an 18 pica dashed rule. Want one? First three people to correctly comment the year Aldine was patented and the patent holder will receive a stamped and hand-addressed card in the mail.
This nice little video – by Paul Dodd and Bill Jones, proprietor of Virgin Wood Type Mfg. Co. (VWT) – demonstrates how beautifully the 5 line trial cutting of Aldine Expanded prints. The first print shows Bill deflowering an entire character set – caps, figures, punctuation, and my newly designed arrow and star ornament – on a Vandercook 4. The second print shows a handful of characters from a vintage font of Aldine Expanded mixed in with the new. Note the enlarged counters of the vintage B, D, and P, and the shorter central arm of the 3. I’ve already ordered a complete 8 line character set, what are you waiting for?
Last week I realized a decade long dream with the release of Aldine Expanded. Working from proofs of an incomplete font in my collection, as well as scans of a specimen included in Rob Roy Kelly’s American Wood Type, I redrew this classic design. But here’s where the story gets good: the Virgin Wood Type Mfg. Co. is producing and selling new fonts of end grain wood type from my drawings. Over the next week or so I will be posting more details about the process. For now, enjoy this video – produced by Paul Dodd and Bill Jones – showing how the laser-cut templates are used to cut the typeface into blocks of end grain maple.
Virgin Wood Type Manufacturing Company is dedicated to making wood type using traditional techniques and a few updated/improvised methods.
Using a pantograph router and original patterns from the American Wood Type Manufacturing Company, Bill Jones is producing new fonts of wood type. Currently, three typefaces are available and a fourth is in the works. Visit the VWT website for detailed accounts of Bill’s process and to support this exciting and important endeavor.