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You are here: Home / Type & typography / Muster Hundreds!

Muster Hundreds!

Towards a people’s history of American wood type David Shields ATypI 2016 • Warsaw, Poland Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw ASP

The history of typography of the nineteenth century—specifically of wood type—is typically framed as a progression of typographic styles driven by cultural tastes and technological advances. As I work to build a general conspectus of nineteenth and twentieth century wood type, I have encountered and uncovered the people responsible for the development and expansion of the wood type industry and most importantly the industrial crafts people directly responsible for the design and production of typographic material of the period. There is currently a great discrepancy between the copiousness of known type designs and the paucity of identified type designers responsible for the creation of this work. Using the William Page Wood Type Co of the United States as a lens to focus the research, my presentation will discuss current findings through the investigation of source material—business listings, city directories, census records, etc—to uncover previously overlooked individuals, illuminating their daily lives and relationships. This research aims to demystify the history of wood type by providing stories of real lived experience of the type designers of the nineteenth century and bringing their stories into parity with the type designers of this century.

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