Washington Letter

I am preparing to print copies of a famous letter handwritten by George Washington about religious bigotry. The best image I can get of it is below. Can I please have suggestions as to what script like typeface might best fit the serious nature of the content? The letter was written in August of 1790.

I am not a historian and I am sure there are those who believe that such letters should not be reproduced in any format and I can understand that and I apologize.

Any help is greatly appreciated. Neil

image: Washington Letter.jpg

Washington Letter.jpg

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Hello Neil,
I may be in the minority, but I’ve always felt more confident knowing that my design scope was subject to the limitations of my type holdings.

What do you have that feels least wrong?

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY


I doubt any hot metal face would provide the character of the handwriting. The formal scripts are just too regular and other “scripty” faces are just not appropriate.

What about a face like Caslon which was in use at the time and would most likely have been used to reproduce the letter if it were reproduced in the time period. You could reproduce it as though it were a broadside to be distributed.

Jphn Henry

Perhaps Baskerville? Used for all sort of “federal” work in the US.


Are you setting this in lead or making photopolymer? If lead, I’d agree with the above posters about something along the lines of Baskerville or Caslon. If digital, perhaps something like Texas Hero or one of the Archive scripts would work.

Or if you have a larger high-res image of the handwritten text, maybe PhotoShop could help you clean it up, increase the contrast, sharpen it, and make a plate from which to print it in that form. I’ve had pretty good luck with starting by increasing the pixel count to make it not pixelate when the plate is made.


If you have it I always thought Cezanne was an interesting script and sort of mimics the nature of a nib pen.

Thanks to all and advice well taken. I think I’ll try Baskerville since that’s one I have. Best - Neil