Tangent Wood Type
Tangent is a curious sans-serif originating as wood type from Morgans and Wilcox in the late 1800s. Hamilton Wood Type Manufacturing had their own version also called Tangent but in a slightly different weight.
The design takes the sans serif genre into odd directions with quirky alternates and nesting variants. The source wood type was revived from the RIT Cary Graphic Arts Collection and expanded into the 500+ glyph set for release as part of the HWT collection.
By 1900, Hamilton had bought out their American competitors in wood type manufacturing, including Morgans & Wilcox Mfg. Co. of Middletown, NY, Wm. H. Page Wood Type Co. of Greenwich, CT, and S. Simonds & Co. of Chicago, IL. Their 1899 Catalog no. 14, shown below from the RIT Cary Collection, notes these acquisitions and prominently advertises many new designs. Tangent is shown at center, renamed succinctly as "No. 208."
The first page of Catalog no. 14 shows the massive Hamilton Wood Type manufacturing complex in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. This factory was demolished in 2015, but the legacy of the great company is preserved today by the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum.
The RIT Cary Collection's Tangent wood type is part of the Mo Lebowitz Graphic Design Archives. This type was cleaned and proofed through a volunteer program called "Adopt-A-Font." RIT students worked to remove dust and grime from the letters. Afterwards they printed a comprehensive type specimen of the myriad alternate characters of this alphabet.
Five capital "A's"! A blend of rounded and angular type forms. Titling height capitals and nested "small" caps were designed to work together. It's as if the original 19th-century designer of Tangent was forecasting the versatility of digital typesetting.
The characters of Tangent seem to magically enmesh in delightful ways. RIT Cary curator Amelia Fontanel was inspired to print the "Abracadabra" keepsake in three colors, (silver, purple, and transparent white), on Hahnemühle Bugra paper, to celebrate this fantastic typeface.