Puzzling Typeface

Hi All,

Cleaning a caps case yesterday and came across this face tucked in with my Perpetua Titling which it clearly isn’t.

I spent last night hunting the face, it has deeply similar characteristics to Packard designed by Oz Cooper for Packard Motors and later filled out and “copied” by ATF under Benton’s supervision, particularly the 3, the A, the Q, and alternate Y. But other characters don’t match.

It also has similarities to Cheltenham, but the Q is off, as are the numerals. It might be a recutting of either face, but I can’t seem to find it. I searched MCGrew and the Encyclopaedia of Typefaces by Jaspert Berry and Johnson looking for it, but didn’t find a match.

Other faces checked and rejected include Cooper Oldstyle, Academy, Cooper Modern, Cooper Fullface, and Emerson. There seems to be touches of design elements by Goodhue, Cooper, and maybe Goudy in here. I thought maybe a Benton recutting, but he probably would have normalized the variant E and F crossbars, but then who knows?

It is cast 30 on 24pt, no pinmark, groomed foot, so not milled down European type. Numerals kern off the bottom, casting looks more recent like it was cast on a Thompson or Foundry Automatic.

Any Thoughts?

Alan Dye

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Here’s a proof of the characters…

image: Scan.jpg


My very first thought was “Is this a joke?” Is Alan toying with us?

I will take him at face value and assume that this is indeed a real font that needs to be identified. The first thing that I notice is that it is very crudely done, almost a mix-and-match of several elements from different typefaces. The cap I and the 6 are badly drawn, the upper serif of the C and the G have nothing in common. There is no consistency to the bottom serifs throughout this font - some are relatively flat and others are very bowed. Compare the crossbar of the E and the F - not even close!

It actually has a lot of “Goudy” going on in plades but I doubt that Fred would have allowed something as rough as this to get cast.

My first guess is that this may be a private/experimental font cast on a Thompson, but I am not anywhere near my reference books right now so I’ll hold off any more comments until I can see what I can come up with when I get back to my library.


Poliphilus Titling

Hi Rick,

You’re right, it seems to be a mish-mash of faces, unfortunately it isn’t a joke which is why the puzzle… :)

I thought maybe frankenstein fonting, but the casting is identical, as is the nick, and the metal is the same from piece to piece, so they were cast at the same time. If they are a mishmash of Poliphilus with Packard and a few others thrown in, they were done all at once with mixed mats.

Hi Paul,

I thought Poliphilus at one point as well. Except the J doesn’t descend in the proof, and the Q is off. Most of the other characters are a match, but there is no alt-Y or R in my showing of Poliphilus. Also, the 5 matches, but the 1 and 3 are off. The L is a dead ringer and the A,B,C match, but the top serif of the G is off.

Maybe someone used a Thompson to do an experimental casting of characters they liked as Rick notes, but sub’d out the characters they didn’t? I know I’ve been tempted to replace the 5 in Kennerley and the F in Bernhard Tango myself at times… :)


The Devil is right. It is Poliphilus Titling (not just Poilphilus caps). I have a 24 pt font, perhaps from LA Type.

Thanks a million guys! I was comparing it to Poliphilus caps, which explains my miss. I don’t have Poliphilus Titling in any of my sample books, including the two monotype catalogs I have (red one and a green one). Google shows it as pattern #230. Does anyone have a scan of a page from a catalog to share?



I am so glad that Paul has solved the mystery. I am home and immediately went to the library to check this puppy out. Alas, I do not seem to have anything displaying Poliphilus Titling. The best I could come up with is a great display of Poliphilus in the book “A Book of Type and Design” by Oldrich Hlavsa published in 1960 and printed in Czechoslovakia. A fantastic book and “must have” for type afficionados.

That showing of Poliphilus confirms that your face is indeed a derivative of Poliphilous and the Q would automatically have to have been altered because ‘titling’ faces do lot allow for descenders (although in this case some of the numerals seem to break that rule).

Seeing the display of Poliphilus caps and comparing them to your showing, I stand by my observation that your font was indeed crudely cut. WTF is going on with the change in the C from Poliphilus to Poliphius Titling????? I completely understand the alternate R and Y, but your cap I and the F for instance are just awful (in my opinion).

Looking carefully one more time, I can see that someone literally recut every letter, some fairly faithful to the original Polihilus and some pretty loosy-goosy.

Poliphilus came out originally in 1923. When was Poliphilus Titling designed/cut????????.


The unusual ‘Y’ caused me to research the face recently when I came upon it in a lovely 1932 Grabhorn edition of “A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode and his Meiny”, where it is used in the introduction, and coupled nicely with Koch’s Jessen Schrift. It is interesting that Stanley Morison, who was the force behind having Poliphilus cut, was never happy with it. No lowercase was made over 16pt and he claimed that the only size which looks right was 12pt. I imagine that the titling was made at about the same time it was introduced in 1923. If one looks at some of the types that were coming out of the European and American foundries at that time, it is easy to understand the penchant for irregularity in the letter forms. What Morison was trying to do was finally “redeemed with the cutting of Bembo” in 1929. See Morison’s “A Talley of Types”, Cambridge University Press 1953.