The Hamilton Wood Type Legacy Project is a collaboration between the museum and designers to make contemporary type designs for Hamilton’s use in the production of new wood types. Using antique tools and methods along with newer technologies the museum makes original work, blending 19th-century technologies with 21st century design. The project exemplifies Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum’s commitment to the principle of preservation-through-use. The active and exacting craft needed to produce new wood type deepens our understanding of this historic process, and shows its capacity to enrich the contemporary design community.
The designs are also digitized making them available to a wider audience. Our partners at P22 Type Foundry offer these fonts in digital format in their Hamilton Wood Type Collection. Most of the types in this series are named in honor of Hamilton luminaries. The type and graphic designers who have contributed to the project are Marian Bantjes, Matthew Carter, Louise Fili, Juliet Shen, Nick Sherman, Erik Spiekermann, Lynne Yun and Craig Welsh with Elaine Lustig Cohen.
The Etta typeface, named for Hamilton Manufacturing's first bookkeeper, Etta Shove Hamilton, was designed by Lynne Yun. Born in Manitowoc, Wisconsin in 1859, Etta graduated from Lawrence College and worked as a school teacher before marrying J.E. Hamilton. Hamilton Manufacturing was founded in 1880 in Two Rivers and is the namesake of the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum.
Etta is a display typeface that has two styles: East and West. Its two variations can be combined or used as a chromatic font. The typeface takes a cue from the design experimentation happening in the heyday of mid 19th Century wood type—but filtered through 1960s photo-type sensibilities.
LYNNE YUN AND ETTA SHOVE HAMILTON
The Konop typeface, named for retired Hamilton Manufacturing employee and Museum board member Don Konop, was designed by Mark Simonson. Don was hired at Hamilton Manufacturing in January of 1959 as a machine hand, working on various types of equipment. After being promoted from Cabinet Maker to General Supervisor, he became Plant Manager for Hamilton's wood working division.
Konop is a monospaced (fixed-width) typeface where each character fills a square. Created by Mark Simonson (Proxima Nova, Marker Felt and others) as characters that can be arranged vertically or horizontally and in any orientation. The bold sans serif style is reminiscent of gothic wood types but more geometric.
MARK SIMONSON AND DON KONOP
Type designer Nick Sherman created this typeface in honor of the late type cutter and museum volunteer Norbert Brylski, who worked at Hamilton from 1962 until his retirement in 1985. Having worked his entire career with Hamilton doing wood preparation, he brought decades of experience as a wood worker, passing down this knowledge to others including his daughter, Georgianne Liesch who currently manages the museum’s wood type production. Nick created this typeface in the Italian style which typically features heavy terminals and serifs while having relatively thin stokes in the body of the letter.
NICK SHERMAN AND NORBERT BRYLSKI
Vancouver-based designer Marian Bantjes named her border design for the late retired type trimmer Bernice Schwahert. Bernice was the first woman hired by Hamilton Manufacturing to work in the type shop. She began at Hamilton in 1962 and worked solely as a type trimmer until 1983.
Marian is a designer, typographer, writer, illustrator and a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI). She drew inspiration for her border pattern from Hamilton's border stamping machine, which relies on creative combinations and rotations of a few geometric shapes.
MARIAN BANTJES AND BERNICE SCHWAHERT
New York-based designer Louise Fili drew upon her love of Futurist typography for this typeface called Mardell. Named after retired type cutter Mardell Doubek who worked at Hamilton Manufacturing from 1968 until 1995 first as an upholsterer, then type cutter. She began volunteering at the museum shortly after it opened in 1999, demonstrating the operation of Hamilton's original pantographs. She has passed on her knowledge of this craft to the next generation of type cutters.
Louise is an internationally celebrated creative director, graphic designer, type designer, and author. Formerly senior designer for Herb Lubalin, Fili was art director of Pantheon Books from 1978 to 1989.
LOUISE FILI AND MARDELL DOUBEK
Designers Craig Welsh and Elaine Lustig-Cohen collaborated to revive a typeface originally designed by Alvin Lustig in the 1930s. The typeface is named after the Lustigs and an 1847 book, The First Six Books of the Elements of Euclid, which served as a source of inspiration. All letters of the typeface are made with combinations of four geometric shapes.
Type designer and educator Craig Welsh initiated the project relying on only 6 letters originally drawn by Alvin Lustig. Working with Lustig's widow, Elaine, they jointly drew the missing characters which make up this typeface.
CRAIG WELSH AND ELAINE LUSTIG COHEN
Berlin-based type designer and letterpress printer Erik Spiekermann created and named this typeface for type cutter Dave Artz who worked as a type trimmer from 1976 to 1993. Dave started at Hamilton Manufacturing in the specialty shop then moved to the type cutting area. He mostly trimmed wood type, but also cut wood to the correct size, ran the pantograph, and operated the carriage saw, planer and sander.
Erik is an information architect, type designer (FF Meta, ITC Officina, Berliner Grotesk and many corporate typefaces) and author of books and articles on type and typography.
ERIK SPIEKERMANN AND DAVID ARTZ
The Van Lanen typeface is named for museum founder and Two Rivers Historical Society member Jim Van Lanen who owns and operates the Light House Inn in Two Rivers. Jim was an early champion of having a museum dedicated to the making of wood type and secured the acquisition of Hamilton Manufacturing's original pantographs and other type making equipment.
Type designer Matthew Carter drew his inspiration from a chromatic Latin style font which is characterized by its triangular serifs. Matthew is internationally recognized as a type designer having worked in all forms of type making. His most popular fonts include Verdana, Georgia, and Galliard.
MATTHEW CARTER AND JIM VAN LANEN
The Lushootseed typeface was created for the Tulalip Tribe of Washington State by designer Juliet Shen. She drew inspiration from traditional Salish art created in the 18th and 19th centuries. The typeface is used by the tribe for educational purposes and tribal signage as a way of preserving the severely endangered Tulalip language which has only a few remaining original speakers.
The character set has unique features that most digital fonts can’t easily accommodate. The museum cut the wood type for use in the tribal school and is printed by young learners on a printing press. You can learn more about the language and typeface here.