Crayonette or Cranston Ornamented?

Hello All,

I acquired a lot of old type and ornaments some years ago from a chap who was selling off a deceased friend’s collection. There’s a whole essay in this story which I will get around to writing one day, so I won’t get into it all here, but one of the founts I got was something which looks like Crayonette, but is shaded and heavily ornamented. I’ve looked in several books without being able to identify it, but I found it by chance today online, on a website of digital fonts, as far as I can tell. The address is:

What is displayed on this site as ‘Cranston Ornamented’ is, as far as I can tell, what I have in metal, in two or three sizes. The pinmark on the one or two sorts where I’ve been able to make it out seems to be a cap ‘R’, with perhaps a lower case ‘o’ beside it, and below that is a number, ‘33830’ … I think. (Even under a loupe this is hard to read.)

I’m curious to know what the foundry might have been, and where this “Cranston Ornamented’ came from. To me it looks like Crayonette dressed to go to the ball. I assume this is a digital resurrection and the Cranston name has been given to it by the resurrection man — as grave robbers used to be called!

I’m sorry I can’t post an image, but anyone who looks at the web page I’ve noted might be able to give me some information.

Thanks for whatever anyone can do. Best wishes to all,

Crispin Elsted
Barbarian Press

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The “Cranston” that you linked to would seem to be a version of Crayon (Ihlenburg, 1886, for MSJ) rather than Crayonette (Brehmer, 1890, Keystone; revived in the 20th century in metal - Skyline Type Foundry cast it in 12 point recently, but is now sold out).

For more on Crayon, see:

For more on both, see the Stephen O. Saxe / Alastair M. Johnston edition of Loy, published by Oak Knoll as “Nineteenth-Century American Designers and Engravers of Type.” I will never tire of repeating that this marvelous book is one that everyone should have.

David M.

Mackellar, Smiths & Jordan occasionally used the pinmark you described—I have several examples of this in my collection. The R stands for Registered, and if you look closely at the last type specimen that David posted, the registration number near the top of the ad matches the number you saw on the pinmark.

When people take old metal typefaces and digitize them, I wish they would have the decency to retain the old names. Calling Crayon “Cranston” simply confuses everything.

It’s not as if MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan are going to rise out of the grave to sue the person who digitized their typeface and dared to keep the original name.

I am with you on that one Steve, but even more offending to me is the fact that whoever digitizes the face then claims to be the “designer”. That is the ultimate insult.

Rick von Holdt

Many thanks to all of you for the information. I shall do some further sleuthing and see what I can find. Clearly I must get a copy of 19th Century American Designers and Engravers of Type. That’s on my list. I couldn’t find the type in Mac McGrew’s book, but perhaps it was too early.

Thanks again for all your help,

and warm regards to all,

Crispin Elsted