Wood Type


Mikado-January-2010-2-300x74by Jim Thompson, IPM Board of Trustees

The wood-type for this month is Mikado and was apparently inspired by Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera of the same name. The show opened in London in March of 1885 and in New York later that same year. According to Nicolete Gray in her classic book on ornamented typefaces, the English foundry of Sir Charles Reed and Son introduced a metal type called “Japanese” also in 1885. She characterized this typeface and other oriental based typefaces as superficial in their foreign influence. Nonetheless it appears that it was later copied by several of the American Wood-type companies. The 1906 Hamilton wood-type specimen catalog shows four versions of this design; one by Hamilton and three by acquired companies. The versions by Wells, and Morgans & Wilcox are called Mikado. The Hamilton and Page versions use model numbers 204 and 156 respectively. It is difficult to determine the specific dates when this particular wood-type was introduced, but the earliest wood-type catalog I could find showing Mikado is the 1888 Page catalog. Our sample “WINTER” is a 15 line unstamped type most similar to the Hamilton version. Incidentally, another English foundry, Miller and Richard introduced a metal typeface in 1887, also named Mikado. That typeface is totally different than the one presented here.