Three mystery typefaces

We’ve started a serious effort to identify metal type in our collection. We’ve gone through all of the usual books (Rookledge, McGrew’s, Encyclopaedia of Type Faces, Book of American Types) to try and figure out several typefaces, but are stumped on these three at the moment.

All have now been identified.

From the comments below the first one has been identified at Rubens, cast by the Boston Type Foundry. We have Rubens in two sizes. The treatment of the bottom center of the M is quite strange compared to the rest of the letters.

The second in Modern Antique Wide which we found in the Cincinnati Type Foundry specimen book of 1893 in Special Collections at the University of Delaware Library. It has that very interesting M which where the side strokes are tangent to the V, an element that is not suggested in any other letter.

The third one has been identified as Old Carnival.

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Unfortunately, my typeface books have been commandeered by a friend, but Dover books put out some collections of typefaces. I think the books are from the 70’s, but all of those fonts look familiar and would probably be in those books.

These are quite nice. They are probably 19th century. Do they have any pin marks?

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

The first one is Rubens and probably has a Dickinson pin mark. The second was sometimes called a “modern antique.” (How’s that for an oxymoron?) The third I can’t identify without a pin mark. It looks like something from the Bruce typefoundry.

The first one is from the Boston Type Foundry.

The second is from Cin’ti Type Foundry (Cincinnati Type Foundry?).

The third doesn’t have a pin mark.

Thanks for the help on those. I tried looking them up in a few other books, but still couldn’t find them.

We need a site like for metal and wood type.

I wish this site would get the images of pin marks back up and running.

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Your first face is indeed Rubens.

Your second face is not Modern Antique. Close, but your face is wider, has a splayed M and the top of the A has serifs. I would say it is a “Latin” but it is not Latin Extended either. Latin Extended is a much heavier face. I’ll have to dig a little deeper to find this puppy.

Your third face is a revival casting. The revival mats were made by Charles Broad for his Typefounders Phoenix foundry. His mats were later acquired by Los Angeles Typefounders. Whichever one did the actual casting of your font, did it on a Monotype or Thompson caster. I also have this font in my shop. T.F. Phoenix called it Old Carnival and cast it on a 42pt. body. I assume this is what you also have. I have never run across this in any of my old foundry catalogues to actually confirm that name.

A little more information about your Rubens face. It was designed by John K. Rogers for the Boston Type Foundry and patented on April, 15, 1884.

I did a little more sluething through several sources and still have not come up with a positive identification of your second sample. It may take someone with a Cincinnati T.F. catalog to find it for you.

A couple of follow up points.

Pin marks are important and I should have incorporated them in from the start.

Fortunately, I live in Newark, Delaware and have access to Special Collections at their library which has a very nice collection of type specimen books. It never occurred to me to look and see if they had specimen books of either of the books for which I had pin marks. They had both.

Comment to Foolproof546. You were indeed right about the #2 being wider than Modern Antique. It was called Modern Antique WIDE in the specimen book.

Question #1 to Foolproof546: How / where did you find John Kimbell Rogers who designed Rubens. I find that someone knows that kind of information simply amazing. I definitely couldn’t find it.

Question #2 to Foolproof546: How is it that you would know about Old Carnival.

I’d really like to know the history of letterpress and typography a lot more than I do.

Lead Graffiti -

I am glad you found the right specimen books. After 30+ years of collecting type and specimen books, I feel that I do know a little about this and that. Of course the old adage of “the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know” holds true. I have a nice collection of specimen books and catalogues, but by no means have a complete enough library to be able to find and identify everything.

I have also amassed a collection of over 1,900 fonts of handset type that are in my shop. I have always been fascinated with type and try to keep a meticulous record of all of my fonts: Name of face, foundry, date of origin, designer, as well as size and location within the shop. I am constantly adding tidbits of information to my files as I find it.

All that I know about Old Carnival is that I have a revival casting that was first offered by Typefounders Phoenix and those mats are currently at Los Angeles Typefounders. I did research and tracked it down for my own database. This face appears in the old TF Phoenix catalogs and the L.A.T.F. (their successors) catalogs as Old Carnival. As I said, I have never run across it shown in an actual old foundry catalog to be able to verify the name of the face or original foundry.

I also have 3 fonts of Rubens in the shop. I can’t specifically tell you where I found the information on John Rogers and the patent date, but whenever I do come across things like that I also add the information to my database. There are probably dozens of different books about typography, type designers and printing in my library that contain bits and pieces of great information that I have culled to add to my own files.

It is actually “fun” and often rewarding to try to identify unknown typefacers for others. If not known offhand, it forces me to start going through my reference books and refamiliarizing myself with all the myriade designs that are out there. Sort of a ‘refresher’ so to speak to try to keep me on my toes. I am constantly learning. It never gets old or boring.

The absolute best thing to do when trying to identify a face, other than showing a sample of the unknown design, is to let people know what the pinmark (or lack thereof) says. Even if the pinmark is blank, that is an indication that it was cast by ATF.