Wood Type – Specimen Sheets from the WNYBAC Collection
January 8th – January 23rd, 2014
The Western New York Book Arts Center letterpress studio contains over 200 wood type fonts, many culled from local and regional print shops. The specimen sheets in this show feature dozens of those typefaces, represented in unique and idiosyncratic ways.
Designed and printed by WNYBAC founder and former Executive Director Richard Kegler and current Studio Director Chris Fritton, these prints are stylistically diverse while maintaining a standard 11″ x 17″ format.
From the exhibit:
“The use of wood blocks for relief printing dates back thousands of years, but precise, refined movable wood type (featuring an individual character on each block) didn’t become prevalent until the industrial revolution in Europe and America; the catalysts were multifold: improved mechanical processes made replication possible, Capitalist Western economies required larger type for postering and advertising, and America’s expansion Westward made wood an affordable resource.
Very early wood type was laminated; the letterform was cut using a scroll saw and then mounted on a cheaper substrate wood. The letterform was often cut out of holly wood, earning laminate type the moniker ‘hollywood type.’ Later wood type was cut from end-grain rock maple using a pantograph router, producing far more resilient and accurate results.
Specimen sheets were used by manufacturers to illustrate the typefaces available for purchase, while printshops used specimens to show customers what designs were available to them. Normally black and white, the sheets printed here at WNYBAC are stylistically diverse and meant to be aesthetically pleasing as well as informative.
The wood type featured in this exhibit dates from between 1900-1960, while the type used to print the specimen sheets dates from 1850-1950.”