Letterpress Typefaces At Robert Smails Print Works Posted on 19 Mar 16:00

Each one of the Paper Tiger Letterpress Cards uses different historic typefaces from the extensive collection at Robert Smails Print Works in Innerleithen.

The Print Works has a collection of typefaces purchased during decades of commercial operation. Additional donations to the National Trust For Scotland also form part of the collection on site.

Consequently, some the sources of some of the typefaces are unknown, but most are likely to have been made by companies such as Stephenson Blake & Co. This was a typeface foundry that began working in Sheffield, in 1818. In the 1990s it became the last company producing foundry type in the UK after absorbing other foundries, including the Caslon foundry in 1819.

Miller and Richard were an Edinburgh based foundry established in 1809, producing foundry type and display type – based off Nicholson Square behind the Edinburgh Central Mosque. They closed in 1952 and many of their type designs were taken over by Stephenson Blake & Co, or the Delittle companies. Delittle was a large wood letter or display type factory established in York, 1888 by Robert Delittle.

Typefaces have as many peculiar names as there are styles. Terms such as “Grotesque”, “Old Style” or “Egyptian” refer to the style of typeface rather than a specific font by one designer. The original Letterpress Typefaces obviously form the basis for the electronic documents we all use today. For example Gill Sans, which was included as one of the original Microsoft Word fonts, was cut by the sculptor, typeface designer and utterly reprehensible Eric Gill in the late 1920s.

''Old Style' is a series of serif typefaces originally designed around 1860 for Miller & Richard by Alexander Phemister. Phemister was influenced by Caslon’s early 18th century typefaces. The Print Works includes some wood display types as well as foundry type in a range of sizes.

The 'De Vinne' typeface was designed by Theodore Low De Vinne. He was an American writer, printer and typographer. He commissioned the Central Type Company to produce the typeface De around 1892. It was cut by Gustav Schroeder and subsequently released by various different foundries in different variations.

''Columbus was designed by Hermann Ihlenbur and released in 1890 by MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan – a foundry which in 1892 was merged into the American Type Founders (ATF).

The 'Tudor Black' typeface, so evocative of letterpress printing, was designed in 1878 by E.P. Prince and F. Tarrant for Miller & Richard. It was designed as a display font, and was also cast under the same name by multiple different foundries.

The Typefaces used on our cards are listed below:

Older (Wiser) – Old Style Italic; Grotesque

Queen For A Day – Sans Serif & Sans Serif Elongated; Egyptian

King For A Day – Sans Serif elongated; Egyptian

Happy Birthday Darling – DeVinne; Old Style Italic

Happy Birthday To You – Round Serif; Columbus

Don’t Grow Up -- mixed unknown types, possibly a Gill Sans donated to the Print Works

Welcome To The Middle Ages – Condensed Sans Serif 14; Tudor Black

Cake & Fine Wines – mixed unknown type (donated type); Bulfinch Happy

Birthday ((HUGS)) – Grotesque Condensed; Sans Serif

Let The Festivities BeGIN – Old Style no. 5; Old Style; Old Style Italic Typefaces - Backgrounds