Wood Type

Antique Tuscan

Wood Type - Antique Tuscan | International Printing Museumby Jim Thompson, IPM Board of Trustees

The wood-type for July is called Antique Tuscan. According to the Rob Roy Kelly Wood-Type Collection website, it has the distinction of being one of those wood-types that was cut first in wood and copied in metal later. Antique Tuscan was designed by Wells and Webb and was first shown in 1849. Five years later this same company added lower case type as well as condensed, extra condensed, and extended versions of Antique Tuscan. In the 1800s the wood-type manufacturers flagrantly copied type designs from each other even to the point of using the same typeface name as the original designer. So in 1859 the next variations of Antique Tuscan were developed not by Wells, but by the Page Wood-Type Company when they introduced Antique Tuscan Expanded and Antique Tuscan XX Condensed.

The key design feature of Antique Tuscan was to substitute concave curved lines for straight lines. The junction of two adjacent lines then resulted in sharply pointed corners to achieve the desired Tuscan look. All variations of Antique Tuscan shared this design feature and achieved wide popularity for the remainder of the 1800s in both wood and metal formats. Our sample “HOLSTER” is a 12 line Antique Tuscan XX Condensed wood-type made in the late 1800s by Vanderburgh and Wells, a later version of the original Wells company. Today Antique Tuscan shows up occasionally. One notable example was the use of the XX Condensed version for the title poster for the 2005 film “WALK THE LINE” about the early years of Johnny Cash and June Carter.