books to identify type

I want to buy a book to help me identify my typefaces. Is “American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century” the best recommendation? Thanks.

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It is if you have American metal typefaces of the twentieth century. There is a European counterpart, and others.



I have the following books:
1923 ATF Type Specimen Book
1912 ATF American Specimen Book of Type Styles
Book #10 “Preferred Type Faces” by BB&S
1907 Type Book by BB&S

All of these books can help greatly with indentifying types. Any interest, please email.

Thanks Sal and Bielerpr. I’m going to take pictures and post it here, maybe you can help me identify some fonts.


The top four books for metal typeface identification that I can think of are:

American Metal Typefaces of the 20th Century by Mac McGrew. Exactly what the title says and the most comprehensive and informative book to date.

The Encyclopedia of Typefaces by Jaspert, Berry & Johnson. Published in England so naturally is more heavily skewed towards European faces. Lots of minor factual errors, but all-in-all a great reference book with lots of detailed information about the faces.

A.T.A. Type Comparison Book by Frank Merriman. Published by the Advertising Typographers Association of America in 1965. A fantastic reference book to quickly determine the name of a face based on it’s design/style. No individual information about the faces, as in the first two books, but this will be the fastest way to zero-in on the actual name of a face.

All of those books basically deal with contemporary 20th Century faces, with maybe a sprinkling of antique faces included. There is no comprehensive reference book for antique faces (yet), but one of the closest things to it would be the book: A Typographical Journey through the Inland Printer, compiled by Maurice Annenberg.

Look for these titles on sites such as or or other new&used book dealer sites.

Happy hunting!

Awesome, Foolproof546. That’s exactly what I was looking for. I acquired a McGrew, it’s on its way.