Can anyone confirm or deny that this piece of spacing material stamped W.T.F. is from the Western Type Foundry? It was discovered by a student in our type shop in Chicago.


image: wtf.jpg


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Yes. That is the mark for the Western Type Foundry from Chicago. This mark was stamped onto their square spacing material in sizes 12, 18, 24, 30 and 36 pt. I have samples of each of these sizes in my own collection. They also stamped the just the word WESTERN on their oblong or double-wide spacing material.

Great, thank you!

Ooops! I guess I should have properly referred to the “square spacing material” as Em Quads and the “oblong or double-wide” as 2-Em Quads. A momentary lapse yesterday!

I have some of these too, and wondered if that’s what your post was about. :) I take a bit of sophomoric amusement in them as well.

Yeah, I wasn’t going to go there, but this is amusing on several levels.

Wow this is modern. What point size spacer? I did some digging on it and found some info.

Specimen book and price list of the Great Western Type Foundry, Chicago
Barnhart Bros. & Spindler, proprietors.
by Great Western Type Foundry.
Published in 1873, Barnhart Bros. & Spindler (Chicago)

From the open library, the oldest specimen reference they have there. Anyhow, why would they have a spacer specimen anyway? Does any one has a scanned copy of this specimen?

There were some other info resulting from the look up but I suggest extreme caution when clicking on links; it may take you to sites where you have to “register”.

If you raise up the spacer to type-high it will print. Is reading or non-reading? The picture could well be flipped to reading for reading purpuses. If it print non-reading will be even better. Can I use the picture for an avatar?

It is right-reading because it wasn’t meant to be printed. You can see the specimen book at the Newberry Library in Chicago. I also saw it for sale last week on abebooks.com for $350.

I took the picture; I guess you can use it for an avatar if you like.

The Western Type Foundry that cast these spacing quads is NOT The Great Western Type Foundry that became Barnhart Brothers & Spindler (BB&S).

The first BB&S (The Great Western Type Foundry) book was issued in 1873 and I think that $350 would be a bargain price for it.

The Western Type Foundry that issued the marked quads was in business from 1901 to 1918, and was started in the hope of giving opposition to ATF. They were absorbed into BB&S in 1918.


The Western Type Foundry is not the The Great Western Type Foundry.
Did anyone back then had any copyright issues for having two names so so alike? If it was today, that would be enough to promote tremendous lead wars… entrenching eastern and western type foundries …

350 for a book like that is within reach, question is, is there a showing of these spacers?

Thanks for the free avatar. That is much appreciated. That’s exactly what I need, along with some nice typesetting of posters advertising eastern type foundries of this XXI century… promoting the sales and sales and sales of modern typography that ought to make any designer numbed.

Only that they don’t have quad spacers like this one anymore …
again, W.T. F. is just so modern.

Not only are the two names alike, they were BOTH located in Chicago, IL!!!!!

The Great Western Type Foundry was started by Herman Toepfer Jr. and his brother Charles in 1868 and was a finacial disaster. The Barnhart brothers; Alson, Arthur, George, and Warren recognized a bargain and purchased the majority interest in the foundry in 1869. The official Barnhart Brothers and Spindler (that we are familiar with) was officially incorporated in 1883.

The first catalog was issued in 1873 and is titled: Great Western Type Foundry, Chicago, Barnhart Bros. & Spindler. The GWTF name was eventually dropped when BB&S was officially incorporated as its own entity.

The W.T.F. quads you are looking for will NOT appear in any GWTF catalog because they were cast by the Western Type Foundry, who only issued four catalogs; c.1906, 1909, 1912 and 1917. They were absorbed into BB&S in 1918.

I don’t have any WTF catalogs in my own collection, so I can’t tell you if the quads are shown in them or not.

I can tell you that this was not unique to WTF. I also have several sizes of BB&S quads with the sizes also listed on them. I also have quads that have KTF (Keystone Type Foundry), INLAND, and a whole variety of small quads that have a triangle with the point size indicated in the center. And lastly, I also have D&P stamped into the top of some quads from France. I keep odds and ends of things like this in a little compartment so it was easy to access them and look at the variety I have noticed and saved.

Great Info.
Who has those specimens could very well auction them, so we call have a “little war” to see who is the lucky one to purchase them.

I won’t be buying the specimen book, but I might go visit it at the Newberry some time.

Book Details: Western Type Foundry Specimen Book and Catalog
Bookseller: Book & Paper, Midland, MI
Publisher: Western Type Foundry, Chicago: St. Louis
Publication Date: 1912

Specimen Book and Catalog of Type Printing Machinery and Material Scarce. Very good. No dust jacket. Clean tight interior, very light shelf wear, some very light age discoloration to cover. Bookseller Inventory # 0008186



Maybe the $350 isn’t such a bargain after all. It doesn’t say how many pages or anything else about the book. I was thinking that the $350 was for the 1873 Great Western Type Foundry book, and that WOULD be a real bargain. I have no idea what a 1912 Western Type Foundry catalog would be “worth.”


Okay. I can’t see pictures nor I could have an idea of the contents. Here is the deal —if the book is yours— I will give you the best business cards of your life in exchange for this book. Blindly.

If it was the 1873 specimen I would sever one my legs, in exchange of it. Now!

You can contact me at will. Cheers !

Just by chance, I happened to run across a copy of the paperback 1912 Western Type Foundry Catalog while I was in Chicago a few weeks ago. I checked it out to see if there was possibly any illustration of the W.T.F. quads, but they were not shown at all.

This catalog pretty much only showed the common faces of the time, with some names changed (not uncommon). This catalog was nothing “special” and in my opinion not worth anywhere near the $300 someone was asking for one recently.

I was just looking at some older threads and saw this one about WTF. Of course, we all know what those letters mean in modern texting! ;-) Anyway, I looked at my 1912 WTF specimen book and here are the stat’s: Size—-7 x 10.25 inches; 198 pages and no picture of the tops of the quads. I have to say that I picked-up the book in a small town south of St. Louis from the widow of a printer, along with many pounds of type from WTF, so I have some of that spacing material. In the note on the third page,”To The Trade” they say that it was the fifth specimen book since 1901. Annenberg only lists 4 up to 1918, I believe. The only face that I have, that may have been unique to WTF was a face called, “Farley,”which was similar to Copperplate Gothic Light, but a bit more extended. Otherwise most of the faces were knock-offs of more common faces. Main offices were in St. Louis & Chicago.

Dave Greer

I went to the Newberry the week before last. While I was there, I called up the WTF type specimen book with the info above. It is a hardback book (not paperback) from April 1912. It is true that it doesn’t show the tops of the quads, as Dave Greer says, but in the Newberry copy there is a quad sticking up high enough that it printed. It looked like it said WESTERN on it.

The book is so thin compared to the BB&S catalog I have at home, but then I shouldn’t have been surprised by that.

Some of the copy used for the catalog is amusing, for example, on page 79:

“Finding Hundreds of Composing Machines Invented Incalculable Mental Efforts and Capital Wasted on Futile Propositions No Decrease in the Number of Hand Compositors.”