☛See also our page of Printing Technique for practical advice on setting type.


A History of the Old English Letter Foundries, with notes, historical and bibliographical, on the rise and progress of English typography. By Talbot Baines Reed. London: Elliot Stock, 1887. —With facsimiles of many of the founders’ founts. A Collection of Facsimiles of the Types, Woodcuts and Capital Letters, Used by Early Printers. 42 plates. London, 1840.

Boktryckstyper under XV. till XIX århundert. Kort öfversikt af boktryckstypernas utveckling och allmänna former. Af Alexis Hasselquist. Stockholm: Förenigen För Bokhandtverk, 1905. —In Swedish, of course, with useful facsimiles of alphabets of type.

Printing Types, Their History, Forms, and Use: A Study in Survivals. By Daniel Berkeley Updike. Cambridge (Mass.): Harvard University Press, 1922.—Includes specimens from all the great typefounders from the Renaissance to the early twentieth century.

Vol. I.

Vol. II.


Type. A primer of information about the mechanical features of printing types: their sizes, font schemes, &c. With a brief description of their manufacture. Compiled by A. A. Stewart. Boston: Committee on Apprentices, United Typothetae and Franklin Clubs of America, 1914. —This is the place to start to gain a fundamental working knowledge of type.

Regulæ Trium Ordinum Literarum Typographicarum: or, the Rules of the Three Orders of Print Letters: viz. the Roman, Italick, English, Capitals and Small. Shewing how they are compounded of geometrick figures, and mostly made by Rule and Compass. Useful for writing masters, painters, carvers, masons, and others that are lovers of curiosity. By Joseph Moxon, Hydrographer to the Kings most Excellent Majesty. London: Joseph Moxon, 1676.

The Practice of Typography: a treatise on the processes of type-making, the point system, the names, sizes, styles and prices of plain printing types. By Theodore Low De Vinne. New York: The Century Company, 1902.
Another copy.

Type Founding and Printing During the 19th Century, a Short Review. By James Figgins. —An eighteen-page book, of which three pages are devoted to the American Point System and why its adoption would be catastrophic for the industry in England.

Type Specimens.

☛These are arranged chronologically.

A Specimen, by WILLIAM CASLON, Letter-Founder, in Chiſwell-Street, LONDON. 1734. —Three copies, scanned at very high resolution. Includes Coptick, Armenian, Gothick, Syriack, Samaritan, Arabick, Hebrew with points, Hebrew without points, Greek, Saxon.

Proef van letteren welke gegooten worden in de nieuwe Haerlemsche lettergietery van J. Enschedé. 1768. —Scanned at high resolution.

Épreuves des caracteres de la fonderie de Orell, Gessner, Fueslin & Compagnie, a Zuric, 1782. —Scanned at very good resolution. From a Swiss foundry: the language is French, but the founts bear curious hybrid names like “Italique auf doppelt Petit.”

A Specimen of Printing Types, by William Caslon, Letter-Founder to His Majesty. London, 1785. —This would be the grandson of the original William Caslon.

A Specimen of Printing Types Cast at Bell & Stephenson's Original British Letter Foundry, from punches and matrices executed under their direction by William Colman, regulator, and Richard Austin, punch-cutter. London, 1789.

Specimens of Printing Types by William Caslon, Jr. 1792.

A Specimen of Printing Types and Various Ornaments for the Embellishment of Press Work, by S. & C. Stephenson, British Foundry, Breams Buildings, Chancery Lane. London, 1796.

A Specimen of Printing Types, by Wm Caslon, letter-founder to the King. London, 1798.

G. F. Harris’s Improved Printing Types, Liverpool, 1807.

Recueil des divers caractères, vignettes et ornemens de la fonderie at imprimerie de J. G. Gillé, année 1808.

Untitled book of type specimens by William Caslon, Jr. No date, but probably early 1800s.

Specimen of Printing Types, from the Foundery of Binny & Ronaldson. Philadelphia, 1812. —Full of the heavy “modern” types that were in vogue at the time, especially in America.

A Specimen of Printing Types, and Ornaments, Cast in the letter-Foundry of George Bruce, at No. 10 Chambers-Street, Near Chatham-Street. New-York. 1828. —It should be noted that many of Dr. Boli's favorite type fonts are imitated from George Bruce designs of this era.

Specimen of Printing Types, and Ormanents, from the Letter-Foundry of J. Howe, & Co., Philadelphia. 1830.

A Specimen of Printing Types and Ornaments from the Baltimore Type Foundry, 1832.

Specimen of Printing Types from the Boston Type & Stereotype Foundry, 1832.

Specimen of Printing Types by Vincent Figgins, Letter Founder, West Street, West Smithfield, London, 1834.

The Specimen Book of Types Cast at the Austin Letter Foundry. London, [1838, according to librarian].

Specimen of Printing Types by Henry Caslon, Chiswell Street, London: Letter-Founder to Her Majesty's Honourable Board of Excise. 1841. —This is doubtless a member of the famous Caslon typefounding family, and the firm claims to be the direct successor of William Caslon, who also operated from Chiswell Street a hundred years before.

Specimen of Plain & Ornamental Types from the Foundry of V. & J. Figgins, London, 1845.

Saggio di Caratteri e Fregi della Fonderia dello Stabilimento di Giuseppe Antonelli. Venice, 1845. —A very good scan.

Specimens of Printing Types Cast by Geo. Bruce & Co., New-York, 1848.

An Abridged Specimen of Printing Types made at Bruce’s New-York Type-Foundry. New York, 1869.

The Gresham Steam-Press. Printing types and ornaments used by Unwin Brothers, Printers. London, 1869.

The Cincinnati Type Foundry Co's Specimen and Price-List, 1870.

Harpel's Typograph, or Book of Specimens, containing useful information, suggestions, and a collection of examples of letterpress job printing arranged for the assistance of master printers, amateurs, apprentices, and others. By Oscar H. Harpel, typographic designer and printer. Cincinnati, 1870. —Many beautiful color examples.

Saggio di Caratteri e Fregi della Stamperia G. Reali. 1872. —A poor scan.

Specimens of Plain and Fancy Printing Types, borders, corners, rules, &c. Dominion Type-Founding Co. (Limited.) Montreal, 1874.

Selections from the Specimen Book of the Fann Street Foundry, Aldersgate Street, London. 1874.

The Printers’ Handy Book of Specimens, containing the choicest productions of every description made by the Johnson Type Foundry. Phildaelphia, 1876.

Hailing's Circular. Volume I. London, 1877-1882. —A quarterly publication filled with specimens of fine printing and advice to printers.

Specimens of Pointed Texts and Black Letters, Francis Hart & Co., New-York, July, 1878. —Includes samples of skewed blackletter type, which looks as odd as it sounds.

Eleventh Book of Specimens of printing types and every requisite for typographical uses and adornment. MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan. Philadelphia, 1878. —Another treasury of surreal typographic humor: “INTERRANEAN RAILWAY. Passengers forwarded to the Countries inside of the Earth. Climate always 879 Degrees Fahrenheit.”

Specimens of Type in use by S. W. Green’s Son. New York, 1881. —Many tables of useful information.

The Printers' International Specimen Exchange: in connection with the Paper and Printing Trades Journal. London: Office of the Paper and Printing Trades Journal. —Spectacular demonstrations of the most lavishly expensive printing techniques, many scanned in glorious color.
Vol. I.—1880.

Vol. II.—1881.

Vol. IV.—1883.

Vol. VIII.—1887.

Vol. IX.—1888.

Vol. X.—1889.

Vol. XI.—1890.

Eleventh Book of Specimens. The MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan Company, Philadelphia. 1885. —Filled with the kind of surreal humor typefounders apparently reveled in.
Another copy.

Specimens of Druggists’ Labels, Prescription Blanks, Letter-Press Printing, Etc. McNeil Bros., San Jose, 1885. —An invaluable collection for anyone interested in the history of the advertising of drugs.

Le Livret typographique. Spécimen de caracteres. Fonderie Deberny & Cie. Paris: Fonderie de caractères d’imprimerie, 1886. —Typical late-nineteenth-century French types.

Typographic Specimens, Benton’s Self Spacing Type. Milwaukee and St. Paul, 1886. —Scanned at very high resolution.

Specimens of Printing Types, Brass Rules, Etc., from Farmer, Little & Co., Chicago, 1887.

The Seventeenth Book of Specimens from the Cincinnati Type Foundry. Compact Edition. Cincinnati, 1888.

Schniedewind & Lee Co's Specimen Book and Price List of Type manufactured by MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan Co. (Johnson Type Foundry). Chicago, 1888.

Hawks & Shattuck's New Specimen Book and Price List of Types, Rules, Borders and Other Printing Materials. San Francisco, 1889.

Specimen Book from the Boston Type Foundry, 1889.

Specimens of Book and Job Types. McQueen & Wallace, Book and Job Printers, Washington, D. C. 1889.

Specimens of Printing Types made by the Lindsay Type Foundry, New York. 1890.

Specimens of Electrotypes, comprising cuts, borders, initials, etc. Chicago: A. Zeese & Co., 1891.

The Roman and Italic Printing Types in the printing house of Theodore L. De Vinne & Co. New York, 1891. —Beautiful printing, and well-chosen texts that make this a delightful literary anthology.
Another copy.

Palmer & Rey's Fifth Revised Specimen Book and Price List of Printing Material. San Francisco, 1892.

Specimens from the A. D. Farmer and Son Type Founding Co. New York, 1893.

Price List and Printers’ Purchasing Guide. Showing specimens of printing type manufactured by Marder, Luse & Co., Chicago. 1893.

Latest and Standard Faces of Type, Printers’ Tools and Machinery. John Ryan Foundry, Baltimore, Md. September, 1894.

Catalogue and Book of Specimens of Type Faces and Printing Material and Machinery Cleveland Type Foundry, 1895.

Specimens of Type. New York: Economical Printing Company, 1896.

Specimen Book and Catalog. Inland Type Foundry, Saint Louis, 1897.

Specimens of the Job Division Type. Government Printing Office, 1897. —Complete alphabets of many popular faces of the day.

Desk Book: Specimens of Type, Borders & Ornaments, Brass Rules & Electrotypes; Catalogue of Printing Machinery and Materials, Wood Goods, etc. American Type Founders Company, 1898.

Souvenir. Barnhart Brothers & Spindler, 1899. —A fine picture of the librarian's hand on the title page.

Typographic Specimens. Illustrated Catalogue. A. D. Farmer & Son, New York, 1900.

Specimen Pages of Printing Types. The Hunter Rose Company, Toronto, 1900.

Hauptprobe in gedrängter form der Bauerschen Giesserei, Frankfurt am Main: Filialen in Barcelona und Madrid, A. Numrich & Co. in Leipzig. 1900.

Pettingill & Co. Copper Alloy Type Book. Comprising newspaper, book, and display types, borders and ornaments; also, brass rules, dashes, etc. Pettingill & Co., Boston, 1901.

Desk Book of Type Specimens, borders, ornaments, brass rules and cuts. American Type Founders Company, 1902.

Specimen Pages of Printing Types from the Plimpton Press, Norwood, Mass., 1904.

Specimen Book of Type. Government Printing Office, Document Divisions, 1904.

The Book of Specimens. Stanhope Press, Boston, 1905.

American Line Type Book. American Type Founders Co., 1906.

Abridged Specimen Book: Type. Keystone Type Foundry, 1906. —This “abridged” book is more than six hundred pages.
Another copy.

Book of Type Specimens. Barnhart Bros. & Spindler, Chicago, 1907. —More than a thousand pages.

Specimen Book and Catalog, Inland Type Foundry, Saint Louis, 1907.

Types of the De Vinne Press, 1907.

American Specimen Book of Type Styles, 1912. American Type Founders Company. —More than 1300 pages; valuable for its sample layouts.

The Monotype Specimen Book of Type-Faces. Lanston Monotype Machine Company, Philadelphia, 1916.

Supplementary Catalogue: New Type Faces, Borders, Ornaments, Brass Rules, produced by this company since the publication of the American Specimen Book of Type Styles, 1912. American Type Founders Company, 1917.

Specimen des caractères de la fonderie de N. P. Gando à Paris et de son fils Th. S. Gando à Bruxelles. —We cannot resist translating the sample of Gros Romain type, which is exactly the sort of thing you don’t find in English or American specimen books: “A young Egyptian, seized with love for the courtesan Theognis, dreamed one night that he lay with her, and felt his passion ebb when he awoke. The courtesan having found out brought him before the court, and demanded her recompense of him, on the grounds that she had cured his passion and satisfied his desire. The judge ordered that the young man should bring the promised sum in a purse; that he should toss it into a bowl, and that the courtesan should be paid with the sound and the color of the coins, as the Egyptian was contented with an imaginary pleasure. This judgment was approved by all.”

The Carey Type Book. Carey Printing Company, New York, 1918. —More than 600 pages, well scanned.

Printing Type Specimens. Miller & Richard, Edinburgh and London, 1918.

Here Type Can Serve You. J. M. Bundscho, Advertising Typographer, Chicago, 1920. —Filled with advertisements of the period, in addition to standard type samples.

Phillips & Wienes’ Type Book 1920. Phillips & Wienes, New York, 1920.

The Monotype Specimen Book of Type Faces, 1922. —This Wikipedia article on Monotype typefaces will help matching the numbers to more familiar names.

Type Book: This same being intended as an aid to the Worker in Type who seeks proper guidance for his inspiration in the selection of suitable type faces possessing those characteristics of refinement which are most acceptable to good taste in letter-press work. Detroit: Thos. P. Henry Linotyping Company, 1923.

Specimen Book and Catalogue, 1923. American Type Founders Company.

The J. J. Little Book of Types, Specimen Pages and Book Papers, with suggestions on book making and a glossary of printing and binding terms. J. J. Little & Ives Company, 1923. —The glossary and other practical information make this book exceptionally useful.

Specimen Book of Type Faces and Decorative Material. David Gildea & Co., Inc., 1923.

Type Faces, with which we “prove it with proofs” in typography for advertisements. Frederic Nelson Phillips, inc. “Typographers Who Prove It With Proofs.” New York, 1924. —This is the same company that was Phillips & Wienes in 1920.

A Catalogue of Type. Baltimore Type and Composition Corporation, 1929. —Swastika borders are offered in several sizes.

Twenty-Seven Specimen Pages arranged to show types suitable for book printing set up from the last chapters of Moby Dick. Richard Clay and Sons, London, 1931.

Barco Type Founders.  —No date, but probably 1940s. Includes all the usual midcentury suspects.

Bembo. —A Danish specimen booklet of the well-known Bembo type, scanned at very high resolution. Probably 1949 (one sample magazine layout is dated Januar 1950).

Plain Display Gothics. ATF, about 1950. —Scanned at very high resolution.

Specimens of Type Faces in the United States Government Printing Office, 1950.

Spartan Family. ATF, 1953. —The ATF equivalent of Futura; scanned at very high resolution.

Diethelm-Antiqua mit Kursiv. Linotype, 1957. —Scanned at very high resolution.

Specimens of Type Faces in the United States Government Printing Office, May 1959. —Complete fonts of many well-known twentieth-century type styles.

Specimens of Type Faces, United States Government Printing Office, 1969. —Complete fonts of many well-known twentieth-century type styles.