19th Century Typeface Patent to Name Index

One of the difficulties in using 19th century American type design patents for research is that they do not include the commercial name of the typeface as released. The late Jane W. Roberts, in the pre-Internet era, compiled an extensive index correlating typeface patents with typeface names. She passed this list on to Stephen O. Saxe, who added to it. Saxe published a version of this list in his edition of Loy’s “Nineteenth Century American Designers and Engravers of Type.”

Now Steve has put a revised version of this list together in spreadsheet form and put it online. It is at:


in both PDF format (static, but easy to read and print) and the original .ods spreadsheet format.

This is a fantastic work which is the result of decades of patient research. We are all deeply indebted to Jane Roberts and Stephen Saxe for compiling it and making it freely available.

Additions and corrections to this index are of course welcome (and will be credited in future versions). Matters of content should be directed to Steve (at the address given on the page). Matters of web presentation should be directed to me.

Notes on patent images:

Obtaining US design patent images is both easy and unsatisfactory. The problem is that the USPTO digitized their entire collection at 300dpi bi-level (not grayscale) and then destroyed the originals - so the terrible digital versions which you can get are the best that exist (unless you’re lucky enough to find a paper original).

To get a digital version, the best method I’ve found if you have the patent number is to avoid the rather difficult USPTO website and use the www.pat2pdf.org website. For Design patents, prepend a ‘d’ to the patent number. You may also have to left-pad the number with enough ‘0’ characters to get six digits. Thus to get design patent 760, ask for d000760 So far as I can tell, pat2pdf.org returns a PDF compiled out of the original USPTO TIFFs.

You can also search using Google’s Advanced Patent Search:


but the PDF patent images Google returns are slightly lower quality than the (already bad) USPTO images.

David M.

Log in to reply