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inventory / important type Saturday August 30 2008 09:00 am

Pencraft typeface from
MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan, c. 1892

A recent and mysterious addition to the Lead Graffiti type collection has been identified by some nice sleuthing on the part of several Briar Press TSI  (Type Scene Investigation) agents. Here are my original photos of Pencraft.

Above: Three of the 36-point sorts showing the mortising. The M has both a top and bottom to the mortise. The P and T only have the top or bottom.

Above: a specimen sheet of the 36-point Pencraft mortised initials.

Above: a specimen sheet of the uppercase and lowercase 18-point Pencraft. Interesting that the uppercase is different from the 36 point. I’ll want to compare both uppercase and see if there is any logic. The 36-point initials would likely be used only a few times through a body of text.

Above: a bit of it set up in a composing stick showing the 36-point mortised ‘M’. You have to fill in above and below any of the 18-point type beyond the mortise with 9 points of leading.

Above: Showing the kerning at the top of the sorts.

Above: The MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan pinmark.

Above: Pencraft is displayed on page 56 in the Compact Book of Specimens: MacKellar Smiths & Jordan Company published in Philadelphia in June, 1892.

Pencraft was designed by Herman Ihlenburg (alternately spelled Ihlenberg) for McKS&J and was patented on September 29, 1885. The page lists the mechanical patent as March 31, 1885 (for the machine that casts their sorts?) and registered as number 22,315 (for Pencraft?). The prices listed were

    8 A, 32 a, with 4 A initials - $5.25
    8 A, 32 a, without initials - $3.50
    32 a, lowercase only - $2.05
    4 A, initials, separately - $1.75

“Ihlenburg was born in Berlin, Germany in 1843 where he studied art and worked for several German type foundries. He served apprenticeships with Trowitzsch & son and afterwards with Haase in Prague, Flinsch in Frankfurt, and Batten in Paris. He emigrated to the USA in 1866 and worked for the L. Johnson & Co. foundry, later MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan (which became part of American Type Founders). Ihlenburg died July 31, 1905 in Philadelphia.” (Typophile, Klingspor-Museum).

A list from the Klingspor-Museum in Germany lists 89 typefaces Ihlenberg designed for MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan and the American Type Founders between 1868 and 1902.

I notice the Pencraft specimen page from Compact Book of Specimens shows an accented é, but I don’t seem to have any. Anyone else out there have Pencraft?

Following is some of the information contributed on Briar Press.

“The face, I suppose, could antedate the purview of McGrew’s book. It appears that the face was cast on a pivotal caster and hand-dressed, rather than a later Barth-style machine, though I have never operated either,” - DBurnette

“According to Annenberg’s Type Foundries of America and Their Catalogues, MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan only operated from 1867-1892 (and then became part of ATF), so that would explain why this font doesn’t appear in McGrew.” - Gamewell Press

Now I’m excited about both this font and MS&J so I’m going to start doing some of my own digging. Special Collections in the University of Delaware Library seems to have a pretty nice selection of MS&J specimen books.

A nice history of MacKellar, Smiths & Jordon by Luc Devroye.

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