Wood Type

Brush Script

Happy-2011-Type-2-300x76by Jim Thompson, IPM Board of Trustees

The wood-type for January is called Brush Script. This name was covered in an earlier column where Brush Script was treated as a category of wood-type. This time it is the name of a specific typeface. Brush Script was designed as a metal typeface in 1942 by Robert E. Smith for the ATF (American Type Foundry). It was designed as a more modern script to replace older designs. Although made of separate letters, it has the appearance of joined letters suggesting a casual cursive handwriting. It was widely used for advertising and other commercial purposes in the post WWII era. Its popularity led to overuse, which was later, followed by a period of avoidance. Accordingly, it is not in wide used today. Some examples of Brush Script advertising are shown in the photos below for Florida State Parks, Famous Dave’s BBQ Sauce (text in red oval), and a recent ESPN home run derby.


This typeface later found use as sign type. This type has grooves on the backside, which allow easy placement of the type on bars of a showcard press. These presses were typically used by large department stores for in-house advertising and other interior signs. Some of these presses provided very large print areas, up to 40 by 60 in. for posters or other large jobs. See photos of grooved and showcard press below. “Happy 2011” is an 8-line type by an unknown manufacturer.