During our basic type composition workshops one of the projects we do is a specimen card. This helps us put samples from our collection down on paper and gets our participants to really look at a job case. This past Sunday one of our participants was composing with Excelsior Script, originally from the McKellar, Smiths, & Jordan typefoundry in Philadelphia. I think the pin mark on these had an AT on it (I’ll go and look that back up). It was the first time we had used this type.

As it turned out it has quite an odd architecture to the sorts. We hope we can find someone that can explain the logic.

The type is an ornate face which requires a great deal of kerning, requiring many of the letters to overhang their neighbors. Normally when letters overhang like this the overhang is flat and physically rests on the shoulder of the adjacent sort. In the instance of Excelsior Script the bottoms of the overhang aren’t flat, but supported by a triangular buttress you can see below.

The obvious question is why have that angular support versus the flat overhang that would gain support from the adjacent letters? And why would they be at different angles? That seems like a lot of work to go to and also magnifies the potential for damage to the type.

We broke two Ts trying to do the specimen sheet and decided to quit before we completely ruined the font. We weren’t using much impression at all. Our font has no capital Ws to start. Anyone reading this have a W or maybe a whole font (especially if it is from McKellar, Smiths & Jordan) they would part with just so we have a complete version?

Anyone know of any other typefaces that use this kerning strategy?