This is a font I’ve been working on recently based loosely on the 8 line Gothic Extended featured on page 298 of Rob Roy Kelly’s American Wood Type. (If you don’t own a copy and you like type, do yourself a favour and buy the reprint.) I had been toying with the idea of modernising something from American Wood Type for some time and this gothic just jumped out at me. It’s so chunky and awkward, with its lopsided S and monolithic M. All the proportions seem at odds with one another but somehow fit together to make this clumsy but loveable oaf.
After doing a bit of research I found a scan of the lowercase (below) and some more information about the face. According to the Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type Collection, this is the Hamilton cut of the face, and was made sometime between 1889–1891. This was great fuel to further inform the direction of the lowercase but I felt the original design too disconnected to the beefy uppercase and decided to create my own take on it. I was surprised at how different the two cases were, they seemed a complete mismatch, completely contradictory. Although it was the eccentric details and idiosyncrasies of the type that drew me to this particular gothic in the first place, to make a usable typeface I knew some of the greater inconsistencies will have to be reigned into establish an even rhythm and colour.
My solution was to re-draw the lowercase in the same style and weight of the uppercase, but to take visual cues from the original. The double story g was a real feature and I had lots of fun playing with different versions. I also used the small tittles of the i and j and the spurred heal of the b, which I’ve carried through to some of the other glyphs, and inverted to form the angled terminal tips. The s takes more from the reworked S than the original, and the closed e has been opened up.
The uppercase have also been extensively reworked to improve consistency and pace. I had a real dilemma with the S, it’s so distinctive with it’s flat bowl, but when I tested a truer version it just didn’t look right with the rest of the glyphs. I’ve tried to integrate it a little more but was very wary of losing the charming off balance quality of the original.
I’m shelving this one for the time being in favour of more pressing projects. I’m quite happy with the direction it’s taking but think it would benefit with a bit of breathing space to work out the kinks.
Note: I would just like to point out that I am aware of the recent collaboration between the Hamilton Wood Type Museum and P22, who are digitising a large portion of the museum’s collection. Not wanting to step on anyone’s toes I did considered the implications, but as I’m now making something quite different from the original typeface (rather than a straight up, historically accurate revival) I have decided to continue development.