Wood Type

John Hancock

Wood Type - John Hancock | International Printing Museumby Jim Thompson, IPM Board of Trustees

The wood-type for this month is called John Hancock. According to Mac McGrew’s book on American typefaces the John Hancock typeface was first introduced in metal by the Keystone Type Foundry in 1903. It was patented in 1906 with the patent assigned to Charles W. Smith, presumably the designer. It was named after John Hancock, one of our founding fathers, who was president of the Continental Congress and was also the first signer of the Declaration of Independence. This typeface was copied as wood-type soon enough to appear in the 1906 Hamilton specimen book.

McGrew described Hancock as a modern, no-frills, hard working typeface. The serifs are modest in size, and the brackets have diagonal strokes most easily seen on the uppercase E, F and T. The lower case letters are tall with short ascenders and decenders. Our wood-type sample “SAFETY” is an 8 line condensed version of John Hancock manufactured by Hamilton. We did not find a current use of this typeface, so we have included a copy of page 157 (shown below) from the 1906 Keystone specimen book.

Keystone p157 | International Printing Museum