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From the Design Desk: The Preservation of Type

My design professor in college was an avid collector of old metal and wood type.  We had an old-school hand-crank press on campus, and he had several drawers full of typefaces he'd purchased from printshops that had closed down over the years in this small college town. It gave us students a real appreciation for the history of type and design, even as we were one of the first generations to learn exclusively on computers.  As letterpress printing has seen a marked increase in popularity over the past few years, people are paying attention again to wood and metal type.  In a recent article in Print Magazine, author Richard Kegler talks about two organizations on opposite sides of the issue - a type museum and a digital type foundry - working together to help preserve the history and beauty of wood type.
In the past 10 years, there has been an increasing interest in letterpress printing, and wood type has become a very desirable (and scarce) commodity. Stories of regret in disposing of old print shop materials are common. The Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers, WI, opened in 2000 and has become the largest depository of wood type in the world. It opened as a resource for researchers and printers to study and actually use the materials.

 P22 Type Foundry had been creating digital versions of historical lettering and type styles for many years before connecting with the Hamilton Museum... P22's model of reviving and marketing historical typefaces (with a keen eye to documenting and acknowledging the sources) was something that Hamilton might consider to assist in financing the ongoing operations of the museum.


Check out the beautiful fonts in the Hamilton Wood Type collection on P22's website.  My favorite is the "Catchwords" typeface, which is a collection of decorative phrases that were often used to add dynamic interest to headlines or designs.

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