Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Chromatic Wood Type

"Chromatic type is printed from multiple pieces of type, each in a different ink color. The following samples are all from the William H. Page company's 1874 book, 'Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders, Etc.' [.]. The specimen book was used to sell the wooden pieces of type to printers. The types cost around 25 cents per letter, per ink color. 
[In some images you can see] white lines between the [different colors or as part of the letter borders]. That's the paper showing through, and it's an intentional part of the design meant to add another color. Remember, each color is the result of the sheet of paper making a separate pass through the press. 
Getting each piece of type to hit the sheet of paper in exactly the right spot relative to the other colored parts of the same letter required amazing craftsmanship. The system of controlling positioning is called registration. These chromatic types were designed to register as much as possible (they were cut from a single multi-level pattern), but given the inherent inexactness of the presses, it's still quite a feat." [source]

Rob Roy Kelly wrote that Wm. H. Page’s 'Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders, Etc.', 1874 “has been rightfully acclaimed as containing the most superb wood type specimens ever printed.” This tome of 100 plates featured Page’s fantastic character designs, intricate borders and tint blocks, precisely printed in up to 7 colors each — sometimes with metallic inks, and always with interesting overprinted hues. [source]
The images below from 'Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type..',
were sourced from Columbia University Libraries website.



Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders 1874 - [via Columbia U] (Sin) Belgian ornamented No.2 type
Belgian ornamented No.2 type



Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders 1874 - [via Columbia U] (..Providence) Doric Florentine + Ornamented type
Doric, Florentine, Clarendon & Aldine Ornamented, Etruscan type



Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders 1874 - [via Columbia U] (Rind + Use) - Gothic paneled No.2 type
Gothic paneled No.2 type



Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders 1874 - [via Columbia U] (Wade's Ink printer's page)
"To Color Printers
We have the pleasure of laying before you a Specimen Book of Chromatic Wood Type, and would say it is now eighteen years since we began Type making. Progress in the Art can be seen by comparing the present volume, with Specimens of that date. There were at that time five or six other manufacturers in the country. Now we manufacture seven-eights of all the Wood Type made, and are now able to show by itself a Book of Chromatic Type and Borders that is not excelled in the world. It has taken years of time to prepare and perfect it. The designs with two or three exceptions are entirely original with us. The demand for Chromatic Type is quite limited, therefore we cannot apply this book free, only to our Agents Most Respectfully Yours, Wm. H. Page & Co." 
[Introduction to 'Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type' 1874]



Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders 1874 - [via Columbia U] Rustic + Bride + Mun) Corinthian type
Corinthian type



Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders 1874 - [via Columbia U] (Chromatic Double Star + background tints)



Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders 1874 - [via Columbia U] (Pink + Red) Ornamented type
Ornate type



Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders 1874 - [via Columbia U] (Recount+ Humor + Rude) Streamer Gothic Paneled type
Streamer Gothic Paneled type



Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders 1874 - [via Columbia U] (I + E) Renaissance type
Renaissance type



Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders 1874 - [via Columbia U] (border cards)



Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders 1874 - [via Columbia U] (..Mosaic) Etruscan type
Etruscan type



Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders 1874 - [via Columbia U] (Storm + Shun + Bug) Clarendon ornamented
Clarendon ornamented type



Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders 1874 - [via Columbia U] (M) French Clarendon ornamented type
French Clarendon ornamented type


"Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders, Etc., Manufactured by Wm. H. Page & Co. Greeneville, Ct.: The Co., 1874. 

William H. Page (1829–1906), worked while young as a wood type finisher at manufacturer John Cooley’s shop. He later bought out another firm’s machinery and expanded by the 1860s to be the country’s chief producer of wood type. Intense competition through the mid-1880s with J. E. Hamilton’s cheaper veneered types sent Page’s market share into decline. He sold his business to the Hamilton Company in 1891.

Page’s firm had a great catalog of original character designs, intricate borders, and tint blocks cut with exacting precision. The company can be credited with printing possibly the most beautiful color wood type specimen ever, a page of which is on view here. Each plate in this book is letterpress printed with several colors, showing the versatility of color blends imaginable with Page products. The specimen of some 100 pages was produced in a small edition since the market for chromatic wood type was very limited." [source]

Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders 1874 - [via Columbia U] Braids + Made +Gof) Old English ornamented type
Old English ornamented type



Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders 1874 - [via Columbia U] (Erudition + Bluster +Pines) Arcadian type
Arcadian type



Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders 1874 - [via Columbia U] (Detriment + Prison + Unite) Gothic ornamented type
Gothic ornamented type



Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders 1874 - [via Columbia U] (Mend + Mun) Streamer Arcadian + Arabian type
Streamer Arcadian & Arabian type



Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders 1874 - [via Columbia U] (stars + star borders)
Stars, cut any size desired



Specimens of chromatic wood type, borders 1874 - [via Columbia U] (Kitchen + Round + Bits + Sin) Aetna ornamented type
Aetna ornamented type

"Chromatic types were made to print in two or more colors. These types, produced in register as corresponding pairs, were designed so that one color would overlap another in certain places to create a third color. Chromatic types were shown regularly in foundry type specimen books of the 1840s and 1850s. 
Chromatic types were first produced as wood type by Edwin Allen, and shown by George Nesbitt in his 1841 Fourth Specimen of Machinery Cut Wood Type. Both William H. Page in 1859, and J.G. Cooley in c.1859, showed several pages of Chromatic type in each of their wood type specimen books. Page showed these types in most of his specimen books in the 1870s. The high point of Chromatic wood type production came in 1874 when the William H. Page Wood Type Co. issued their 100-page Specimens of Chromatic Type & Borders. Though Hamilton, Morgans & Wilcox, and Heber Wells all showed samples of Chromatic types through the rest of the century, none of these ever reached the level of intricate precision attained in Page’s 1874 masterpiece." [source]

10 comments :

Claire said...

I am 100% into these, my god. The COLORS. The candy, circusy COLORS!

Jen said...

Wow, these are fabulous—great type and yes, the COLOURS!

Unknown said...

I love the typefaces, especially

Rhissanna said...

Kitchen, Round Bits, Sin. I need those words, in that order, in my kitchen.

iamyouasheisme said...

A bit off-topic, but the leading image, SIN, brought back a memory.

When I was studying engineering, I had a textbook on electricity and magnetism that had a lot of black and white line diagrams. There was one for the magnetic field generated by a current moving through a thick wire. The label used for magnetic fields in this book's diagrams was a capital, boldface, S.

So, in such an electrified cable, there are internal and external magnetic fields...getting it? These are referred to as S-internal and S-external, but that takes too much room. Instead, abbreviations were used, and all over the page were displayed the letters Sex and Sin.

Pretty heavy stuff for an E&M textbook. I was tempted to rip out the page and save it, but I knew I would sell back the text, so I refrained. A photocopy would have been nice...

Perhaps you've seen similar somewhere?

Andrew said...

Stunning!

peacay said...

Thanks.

I did a physics course once and I'm surprised I have some vague recall of s-internal / s-external. I say "vague" because the course was set up so that you could abandon 2 of the modules prior to the final exam and I hate electrical physics a LOT so that was the first to be jettisoned.

iamyouasheisme said...

Thanks for your reply, pecay! Sometimes I have wondered if I am not inventing the memory!
I hated E&M: the professor was atrocious. I'm a civil engineer, a discipline that has produced some wonderful graphic output, as you well know.
[sorry for dupes...browser glitch...]

Smut Clyde said...

Detriment Prison Unite!
Rustic Pride, mun!
Recount humor -- rude.

Truly this is poetry for the ages.

deryn joy said...

I have come back to this page about five times already this week.

can't ... stop ... looking ... at antique ... typefaces ...

Post a Comment

Comments are all moderated so don't waste your time spamming: they will never show up.

If you include ANY links that aren't pertinent to the blog post or discussion they will be deleted and a rash will break out in your underwear.

Also: please play the ball and not the person.

 
Creative Commons License