patent database expanded - with images

Last week David MacMillan and I announced the online posting of a database of nineteenth-century American typeface patents at

Since then, Lars Schwarz, a typographer and web developer in Oldenburg, Germany, has expanded the original database to include thumbnails of all the Patent Office images. There is a link to his webpage showing them all, at the Circuitousroot page linked above. You can also go directly to Lars’ webpage here:

Clicking on any of the thumbnails will bring up the full patent drawing of the typeface, so you will not have to do a patent search or even type in a patent number.
N.B. This is an ongoing project, and there are a few typos and errors here and there, but we hope to get to them all eventually.

-Steve Saxe

image: Herriet patent.jpg

Herriet patent.jpg

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I realize that there are likely only a handful of people out here who really find this a big deal, but it is a big deal to have this patent information available with the click of a mouse. This is hard-won documentation of the history and heritage of early American type design that is now in easy grasp of anyone on a computer. The hours of time and effort to dig out the information in Steve’s and Jane’s database and to download the hundreds of primary documents pictured in Lars’ Patent Office images is unimaginable. I have bookmarked these pages and will reference them frequently. It is a tremendous resource to the type historian and to any serious student of letterpress and type design. Kudos to Jane Roberts, Steve Saxe, and Lars Schwarz for their efforts and to David MacMillan for making them easily available on-line. Particularly to Jane, who passed away earlier this year; she was a stalwart letterpress printer, who for many years was glad to share her knowledge of printing with younger generations. We’ll miss you.
—Bob M.


it’s hard to make people understand what it takes. They have Cell Phones and Ipads and grew up that the World is at their Fingertips. Little do they understand that only 5% of the knowledge tucked away in books is digitized as of yet.
I have a host of 19 th century working Equipment on my Floor and full, original Documentation with each piece.
And yes, in the last several years digitization opened up sources for my research which before there hard to come by or only at great expense.

But digital Knowledge is fiction, or how many people can read a Syquest Disk or a 9 inch Floppy. Once it’s printed, it tends to hang around.

You all have my Thanks,