Wood Type


06-09-Aetnaby Jim Thompson, IPM Board of Trustees

Our wood type for June is known as Aetna. This type is derived from the Roman typeface, one of the three major categories of wood type. As we recall, the Roman typeface consists of very thin and very thick strokes. According to R. R. Kelly, Roman type was losing popularity with printers because of a perceived fragility, particularly of the thin strokes. The Aetna typeface was designed to remedy this problem and therefore was born out of need rather than copied from metal type as were so many other wood typefaces. Aetna features thicker thin strokes as well as thicker serifs. It first appeared in 1870, offered by Wm. H. Page. It remained a popular typeface for poster work for the rest of the 1800’s. It is likely that Mr. Page named the type after the thriving insurance company founded in 1850 in a neighboring community. He had named other typefaces after local sites and people. Our sample for June is a 10 line Aetna with the word chosen to feature some of the more distinctive letters of this typeface.