A Partnership between P22 type foundry and Hamilton wood type museum
P22 type foundry and the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum are proud to announce a partnership that brings 19th Century ingenuity into relevance with the latest online technologies. This joint venture, known as the "Hamilton Wood Type Foundry" (HWT), will see a large collection of wood type designs converted into digital fonts that can be used with the latest Webfont CSS and Opentype programming abilities. P22 is working with the Hamilton Museum and other collections of scarce printed specimens as well as actual wood type to render these classic designs into fully functioning computer fonts.
Wood type first appeared on the printing scene in the early 1800s. This innovation allowed for letters to be made at very large sizes, previously not possible with metal type. As a result, posters and advertising materials underwent a massive transformation throughout the 19th Century and even more so into the 20th Century. By 1900, The Hamilton Mfg. Co. had acquired most of its competitors in the field to become the largest manufacturer in the world. Over time, wood type for letterpress printing gave way to newer technologies and became forgotten in barns, basements, and curio cabinets. The iconic look of wood type has recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity for its aesthetic that evokes everything from old west “wanted” posters to rock, country and blues music gig posters. However, it's mostly the handmade and hand printed sensibility that holds great appeal as something of a remedy to the omnipresent cold and clean computer design of the last decades.
P22 type foundry, an independent design house, has been making computer fonts inspired by historic lettering styles for over 18 years and currently has over 1,000 unique designs in their font offerings. P22’s attention to historical accuracy, along with acknowledgment of the source material, has made it a go-to source for iconic and important fonts including those associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement, the Bauhaus, famous artists' handwriting and the legendary London Underground lettering. The inclusion of HWT to the P22 roster is a perfect addition to the legacy of keeping classic designs relevant and usable in contemporary design.
With the re-drawing of the wood type for digital fonts, we have taken into consideration aspects of how the fonts were originally made, as well as, how they may have changed from the original drawings - to the cutting in the factory - to the use in the print shop. The patterns in the collection of the Hamilton Wood Type Museum give some insights into how the drawings were interpreted. The cutting and hand finishing in the Hamilton shop floor may have shown variances from worker to worker and therefore fonts that are the "same", but made in different years or even different shifts may have variations in thickness and consistency.
The digital fonts seek to strike balance of the handmade with some imperfections and the pristine original drawings (and in the case of 'shopworn' variants, exaggerated distress). In sourcing examples for digitizing, there is often a fair amount of research to try and find as complete character sets as possible. Wood type often becomes separated from its punctuation in shops and complete sets of wood type are exceptionally scarce.
The specimen books produced by Hamilton and other wood type manufacturers rarely included more than a few letters of each alphabet. This was done to prevent copying by rival companies, but also because of the logistics in showing hundreds of styles in one book would make it very impractical. For these reasons, multiple sources are referenced in all of the HWT revivals. In the case of expanded character sets, brand new glyphs need to be drawn that may have never existed. Foreign accents and non-Latin characters were created for clients of Hamilton for certain fonts; these materials in the Hamilton collection are used for the relevant fonts when available.
The Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin is the only museum dedicated to the preservation, study, production and printing of wood type. With 1.5 million pieces of wood type and more than 1,000 styles and sizes of patterns, Hamilton's collection is one of the premier wood type collections in the world and an unparalleled source of research material for type designers. A portion of proceeds from all sales of the HWT digital fonts goes toward supporting the mission and operation of the The Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum.