I recently purchased some 6 line (72 pt) Hamilton type. i can’t find it in the Rob Roy Kelly wood type book and its obviously not in the McGrew metal type book.

I have both upper and lower case.

Can anyone tell what it is?


image: Hamilton Type June 9 2013.jpg

Hamilton Type June 9 2013.jpg

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Cooper Black

I don’t know what Hamilton called it but it’s very similar to Cooper Black in metal. Since Cooper Black was probably still in copyright, Hamilton probably had to change it a little.


Hamilton did make Cooper Black and advertised it in their catalogs under that name. They most likely purchased the rights from BB&S to market it as wood type. Generally, when Hamilton wood typefaces had a name rather than a number, it was a copy of a metal typeface made by a type foundry.
—Bob M.

Or they just stole it. I know everyone is so enamored with them now, now that they are the museum, but they were ruthless in their day and age.

One of the reasons it is so difficult for historians to identify wood type is that when Hamilton bought out a company, and they bought out a lot of them, they destroyed the records.

And note that the next time you hold one of those pieces of Hamilton wood type in your hand, that the “bounty of Wisconsin hardwood” used in its production was clearcut to near extinction. That doesn’t seem to appear anymore in the literature (though it is out there if you search hard enough). Apparently though, there is still enough of it sunk in the Great Lakes to make retrieving it a viable industry. A century under water, still good.

Sorry, it’s true. I was born and raised forty miles away from Two Rivers. I know the place. Yeah, the water in the Great Lakes is cold, very cold. Fall off a sailboat on Lake Superior in the summer and you have just minutes. All kinds of stuff on the bottoms of those stormy lakes, ships, ships, ships, tons and tons of iron ore pellets, timber lost in the shipping lanes (I did make an error though, some of those cut logs are over 150 years old), even cars with folks in them (perfectly preserved). I spent a Christmas in a cottage on Lake Superior. Man, the ice piled up (high and temple-like) along the shore line was other worldly. I pulled out the rear axle of a Model-T from one of the flows!

Typefaces are not protected by copyright in the United States and never have been.

However odd it may seem, modern typefaces are only protected by the copyright that exists on the programming (or, “font software”) that makes them function. If you read a font-license today, this is why the legal text always refers to “the font software”.

One could say that fonts are protected, typefaces are not.

It is in fact perfectly legal under current US copyright laws to copy or trace the design of just about any typeface and resell it as a font, as long as the code involved in its rendering is not copied.

It would also be perfectly legal for me to manufacture wood type today from a modern or old typeface I didn’t design, as long as I wasn’t using its code to generate toolpaths or its name to market my product.

So, back when foundries stole typeface designs from other foundries they would’ve been legally in the clear (in the US) even under modern copyright laws. They did use different names to avoid trademark issues, as the names of typefaces could certainly have been protected by trademarks from the 1880s onwards.

Many European countries do give typeface designs copyright protection, but the US does not, yet.

It certainly is possible that the design was stolen by Hamilton. It was common practice by all of the metal type foundries to steal or slightly alter designs, but they gave them a new name. There needs to be more research to prove whether the design was copied with or without consent of BB&S. However, because Cooper Black and other designs in wood had the same names as those faces made by metal type founders (BB&S, Inland, ATF, Keystone), it suggests that there was some communication between the companies. There is no proof of either claim that I know of.
As to Wisconsin’s forests being clear cut, that is certainly true. Little was left of the state’s virgin timber by 1910. Hamilton could hardly be criticized as the cause of this, however, as the bulk of the forests were floated down the Mississippi River or along the Great Lakes to large cities where the lumber was used for construction of homes, factories, etc. Hamilton’s use of wood was an infinitesimal part of that.
The knavery of the lumber barons in my hometown in Wisconsin was far more devastating than the wrong-doings that the Hamilton company may have perpetrated.
—Bob M.


Your information is about as succinct and correct as it gets.


As kimaboe states…
“Typefaces are not protected by copyright in the United States and never have been.”
That (I believe) is correct because…
A COPYRIGHT is the right of an author or those who acquire authority from him to the exclusive publication of a LITERARY work.
A PATENT is a writing securing for a term of years the exclusive right to make, use, or sell an INVENTION.
Therefore typefaces have been and are protected by PATENTS, not copyrights!
St. Louis Type Foundry, Barnhart Brothers and Spindler, American Type Founders, among others, in their specimen books and other advertising, ALL used the words: U. S Patent No. 000000, Patent Applied For, Patent Pending.
I don’t recall any type foundry using the word COPYRIGHT in reference to a type face.
And a question:
Did the EMPIRE TYPE FOUNDRY, of N.Y. violate patent laws by changing (mainly the cap R) a character in a patented font and renaming it to a name very similar to the original?

First of all, it is worth nothing that copyright does not only apply to literary works, but any original intellectual property from the moment of creation excluding utilitarian designs.

Secondly, typefaces could *theoretically* be protected by design patents, however I am not sure if anyone has ever tried applying for a design patent to a typeface in the US in recent memory. That is not surprising.

While typefaces are considered industrial designs (or a utilitarian design) and not as intellectual property in the eyes of the law, it is unlikely that a design patent on one would be awarded today.

The non-protection of typeface designs is a conscious decision, upheld in the US for many reasons. Copyright or patent protection of a design would open a huge can of worms, enabling claims by typeface-designers to ownership of independently arrived at designs or works created using their typefaces. This would have potentially catastrophic impacts across all types of media. The justification for exception from copyright is that the utility of typefaces far outweighs the benefits of extending protection to their creative elements.

In countries with copyright protection on typeface designs, the use of the designs is also protected from such claims, as long as the correct font software license was held by the creator.

Another reason is that design patents have very strict requirements and few typeface designs would qualify for them due to the requirements of being a “novel and not obvious” design.

I would think that it would be difficult to claim a typeface based on normal alphanumeric characters as satisfying either of those, especially when considering any similarity at all to existing typeface styles which would further take away from such a claim.

Personally, I am having a hard time coming up with a typeface that *would* qualify for a design patent, while I could rattle of a significant list of ones in which the software application would certainly be eligible for utility patents.

Design patents on anything can cause a lot of conflict due to their nature, see Apple vs Samsung for a recent high-profile example.