Archived entries for Wells & Webb
I swear I have to pinch myself sometimes when I look at this font. It’s almost too good to be true.
The partnership of Darius Wells and Ebenezer Russell Webb introduced this design in 1849. Rob Roy Kelly believed this to be a design that appeared first in America, and a style that had never before been produced as foundry type. The Wells & Webb catalog showing a solid version (like the one shown here) and an outline did not include lowercase letters.
15 line Antique Tuscan
This Antique Tuscan X is quite possibly my favorite wood type character… this week anyway. The heart-shaped arrowhead counters make me grin uncontrollably, and the way the lateral counters echo the vertical on a larger scale make this letterform just about perfect.
According to Rob Roy Kelly, this typeface is a true American original (probably), showing up first as a wood type capital alphabet in the 1849 Specimens of Wood Type by Darius Wells and Ebenezer Russell Webb.
12 line Antique Double Outlined Shade
Wells & Webb called this face Antique Ornamented in their 1849 specimen. Rob Roy Kelly called it Antique Double Outlined Shade. I call it freaking amazing. Unfortunately, I could not find a manufacturer’s imprint and type design piracy was as prevalent in the nineteenth century as the twenty first, so I don’t know if this font originated with Wells & Webb.
I have to admit, I have wanted to show proofs of this font every day, but ultimately decided that since starting with one of my rarest fonts (see 10 line Gothic Condensed Octagon Shade, posted on January 2) I should finish the first showing of the alphabet just as strong. Kelly explained that the specimen included in his book was printed from types at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The proof that you see here was printed from type that resides in case number 25 of the 2/3 sized double-tier flat-top Hamilton wood type cabinet in my living room.
30 line (5 inches!) Grecian Condensed
“Grecian was one of the significant poster faces of the [nineteenth] century,” wrote Rob Roy Kelly. Not bad for a design that Nicolete Gray described as “founded on the simple idea of taking the corner off the letter.”¹ Derived from the Antiques, Grecian shares the same heavy unbracketed serifs, but is differentiated by chamfered sides and square/rectangular counters. The earliest wood versions of Grecian (it first appeared in specimens of the English type foundries in the 1840s) were shown in the 1846 wood type catalog of Wells and Webb. Early versions, including Condensed, Extra Condensed, and X Condensed Open were designed without lowercase. My font is capitals only – plus two exclamation points. Unfortunately, no manufacturer’s stamp is present.
¹ Nicolete Gray, Nineteenth Century Ornamented Typefaces, 1976
15 line Antique Tuscan
Like French Clarendon, Tuscan is a subcategory of Antique. The first appearance of Antique Tuscan was in the 1849 Wells & Webb type specimen, it showed only capital letters. A lowercase showed up five years later, also by Wells & Webb. The design – originating as wood type, then adapted and copied by foundries casting metal type – is a modification of Antique in which curves are substituted for straight lines and the terminals of the serifs become concave. Not long after its appearance in the Wells & Webb specimens Antique Tuscan was available from all wood type manufacturers, and proved a popular design in both wood and metal through the end of the nineteenth century. The range of weights available grew to include, Condensed, X Condensed, XX Condensed, Expanded, and Extended.
My font includes capitals and some punctuation – wait until you see the sexy ampersand – but no lowercase. As far as I know this is the only font of veneer type in my collection; the face of the letters is cut from a thin veneer (0.1875 inches) of wood that is glued to a separate block to make it type high. Rob Roy Kelly believed Hamilton to be the only manufacturer to produce wood type by this method (I could not find an imprint on this font), though he describes the veneers as being 0.0625 inches. This method of production was so much cheaper than using end-cut type it allowed Hamilton to undersell its competitors, eventually forcing all other wood type producers to sell out to The Hamilton Manufacturing Company.