Archived entries for zero
Not many wood typefaces have a separate design for the numeral zero and capital letter O – Aldine Expanded is one of the few. The narrower (top) character is the numeral zero, the capital O is below for comparison.
Seeing Cooper Black at this size always makes me smile. This numeral 4 was amongst an assortment of mismatched wood type purchased from an ebay seller a number of years ago.
The original metal face was released in 1920 by Barnhart Brothers & Spindler. It’s overwhelming popularity meant it would inevitably be copied by every foundry and wood type manufacturer. I have a PDF of a Hamilton Manufacturing Co. catalog from 1938 (I’m pretty sure it appeared as wood type years earlier) showing specimens of Cooper Black, Cooper Black Italic, Cooper Black Condensed, Cooper Black Extra Condensed, Cooper Black Double Extra Condensed, and Cooper Black Highlight.
8 line Wm. H. Page Co.’s Block Streamer No. 7
From Zero: the biography of a dangerous idea by Charles Seife:
The biggest questions in science and religion are about nothingness and eternity, the void and the infinite, zero and infinity. The clashes over zero were the battles that shook the foundations of philosophy, of science, of mathematics, and of religion. Underneath every revolution lay a zero…
This revolutionary comes from a figure font containing only numerals, dollar signs, and cent signs, all surrounded by a shadowed outline. Though it’s impossible to tell from this character, the typeface is No. 124 (see the scan below), first shown in Page’s Wood Type Album, 1879. The same face was called Gothic Tuscan Condensed No. 2 by Morgan & Wilcox.
Scan from Specimens of The Wm. H. Page Wood Type Co., 1888