Wood Type

Clarendon

Horse-Type-Sample001-300x81by Jim Thompson, IPM Board of Trustees

The wood-type for August is called Clarendon. It was created as a metal typeface in England by Robert Besley in 1845 for the Fann Street Foundry. The typeface was named after the prestigious Clarendon Press in Oxford that was home of the King James Version of the bible, the Oxford English Dictionary and other major publications. The Clarendon typeface is a compromise in weight between the heavier Antique/Egyptian and the lighter Roman. This change in weight plus the use of brackets (rounded fillets) result in a simple yet elegant design. After a three-year period of patent protection, Clarendon was widely copied and became very popular. Several variations of the typeface were generated and are with us still.

By the 1850s Clarendon and its variations were being produced in wood-type in the US by Bill, Stark & Co. and Wells & Webb. It was quickly adopted by all of the wood-type manufacturers and found applications in newspaper headlines and various types of posters including the legendary wanted posters of the old west. Our sample “HORSES” is a 15-line version made by the Hamilton Co.  It is evident that the wood-type version of Clarendon is a much heavier typeface than its metal counterpart. According to the R. R. Kelly classic book on wood-type, the Clarendon wood-type resembled the metal type only after 1850 when the Light Face and Extended styles were introduced. Today we can find the Clarendon typeface in use in many applications including Sony, the National Park Service, and Wells Fargo (all shown below).

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