Graphic Design
Computer Aided Design

How can I find out the names of certain letterpress type alphabet fonts?


Wiki User

As far as I know, there is no comprehensive source for an answer. The best starting point is probably 'The encyclopedia of Typefaces' (Turner Berry, Jaspert & Johnson, 4th Edn, Blandford, 1970), which covers the major 20th century Western European and American typefaces. Nicolette Gray's 'Nineteenth Century Ornamented Typefaces' (Faber & Faber, 1976) extends the coverage, and 'Printing Types' by D B Updike (OUP, 1962) goes further back, covering types from the start of letterpress.

However, all these are limited, the first and last concentrating on the more typographically acceptable or well-known examples (they had to draw a line somewhere), and omit many lesser commercial faces, particularly in the 19th century.

Also, many faces were copied or pirated, and many issued under different names by different founders. The catalogues issued by typefounders are mostly rare, and those available are usually from the better-known firms. Access to these is really only possible at specialist libraries, such as St.Bride Institute in Fleet Street, London.