On the History of a Typeface

Fonts are something you might not spend much time thinking about if you’re not a designer. Before I ever started designing anything, Times New Roman was my go-to, because that’s all I was ever told to use in school. It wasn’t until I started letterpress printing at WNYBAC, that I realized the design power a typeface can have. Walking into the studio at a place like WNYBAC and encountering rows upon rows of type cases gives “choosing a font” a whole new meaning. 

Just some of the many, many type cases we have here at WNYBAC

That being said, it doesn’t mean that we here at WNYBAC don’t have a few go-to fonts. Here’s the history of a couple of them:

Adobe Caslon:

          

Most typefaces are named for the person who designed them. This is the case for Adobe Caslon. William Caslon lived in England and designed the typeface that bears his name in the 1700s

So what does a typeface so old have to do with WNYBAC? None of our presses, even Olga, are that old.

Here’s the thing about Caslon though. Before Times New Roman stole the show, Caslon was the go-to typeface for printed material. An old saying in the printer community was “when in doubt, use Caslon.”

Caslon is so attractive to printmakers because it’s easy to read, making it a suitable font even for long passages of text. It’s a serif font, that, because of its popularity, has been redesigned many times. While it may not be one of the standard fonts on programs like Word or Google Drive, there are plenty of digital versions available.

 

So why does WNYBAC care about Caslon? Because, true to our traditional nature, when in doubt, we use Caslon. If you’ve ever received anything in the mail from us, it was likely printed in Caslon. While Caslon is a little too plain to use when designing things like posters and cards, it’s perfect for informational printing.

Did you know that both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were set in Caslon? For our modern printing needs, WNYBAC uses a digital version of this historic typeface.

Digitizing type is always an interesting undertaking. In the case of Caslon, the type had already been redesigned before computer word processors ever appeared on the scene. It is likely that the computerized version of Caslon we use today only looks vaguely like the original. Even so, it’s pretty cool that we can still use the same font the Founding Fathers used at the birth of the country.

 

LTC Winchell

 

Become a member, and you’ll get access to this typeface! It’s a Buffalo typeface, and in the spirit of hometown pride, the digital version of LTC Winchell is exclusively available to WNYBAC members and members of the P22 Club.

LTC Winchell isn’t as old as Caslon. It was designed in 1903 and is the only known typeface designed in Buffalo before P22 Type Foundry was formed. It was designed by Edward Everett Winchell, while he was serving as the Art Director for Matthews-Northrup Printing Works.

It is said of Winchell that he is “among the best of American designers and artists.” Indeed when Winchell’s typeface was first released by the Inland Type Foundry of St. Louis, MO, it quickly became one of Inland’s most popular type designs. Winchell remained in the type selection booklet for The Courier Express, a Buffalo newspaper, until well into the 20th century. It was one of the Headline typefaces of choice.

 

After the dawn of digital printing, however, Winchell was nearly lost to the modern world of printing. That is, until a case of 39pt Winchell was discovered in the basement of SG Press in East Aurora, NY. Covered in dust, it was obvious the type hadn’t been used in years. Nevertheless, the decision was made to digitize the typeface, and in this way this unique piece of Buffalo history was preserved.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our funders listed below, for providing support to WNYBAC's ongoing programs taking place throughout Western New York:

NYSCA M & T Art 4 Moore Zenger Group Evans Bank Community Foundation
Baird Foundation Cameron Jane