Wood Type Identification/Question

Howdy all and a Merry Christmas to you and yours.

See below what came out of several bags which I came across. 1) What is the face? It is marked Hamilton Two Rivers.
2) It is all 72 point but there is a mixture of regular and extended, or regular and condensed (see detail of the cap Ts), is this actually two sets combined or a single set with variations of each letter?


image: Detail_7799.JPG


image: UpperCase_7797.JPG


image: LowerCase_7798.JPG


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It does appear, to me, that you have a mixture of De Vinne (Hamilton No. 627) and De Vinne Condensed (Hamilton No. 634). Other makers cut two styles of M & S, but Hamilton may not have done this.
Try separating the two fonts, by width of letters, and compare.
Dave Greer

Thank you Mr. Lyons, and as a follow up, and because I know you will know, what are the capital Zs cut short? see attached sir:

image: DeVinne_CapZs.jpg


sorry, the question should be:

Why are the capital Zs cut under the face height?

I suspect, looking at your example, it is because their serifs extend significantly above and below the top and bottom of the horizontal strokes and need to be supported, but the rest of the characters do not have such extensions so the body can be smaller. Are the “Z” bodies smaller than the rest of the font?


ahhh, I see now, the bodies are all consistent

thank you Bob


It was not just the “Z” that had a slightly extended body.

Look at the first photo - The “R” has been severely trimmed, and you can see the tops of the “T”s are different - one has slight serif style bumps on the top tips of the two arms - the others are straight along the top edge - presumably because the serifs were accidentally knocked off, or intentionally trimmed.

The letter “Z” being rarely used, is still in original state.


Philip is correct. I always considered Hamilton’s De Vinne a “problem” font because of the undercut serifs. I obtained a font of Hamilton capitals, of 6-Line De Vinne, after selling my collection to John Horn. The following letters are undercut (overhanging serifs); E, F, L, R, T, Z. It, also, has alternate characters; M, S.and R (the R is missing from my font). My font had a M & W lower case, which was a smaller size on a 6-Line body, so I don’t think that their capital letters had that problem. Undercutting any end-grain wood is just asking for trouble, yet many printers seemed to do it, from my observations.
Dave Greer

After looking at my five wood fonts of DeVinne in 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 lines, I wanted to share some additional information.
These fonts are all Hamilton, probably originally purchased about 1905 by printer A.A. Liesenfeld of La Crosse, WI. Every font has the undercut edges on the cap E, F, L, T, and Z, as well as the lower case z, to capture DeVinne’s distinctive serifs. The cap R is not undercut, but has an over-size body, as does the Q and all of the lower case letters with descenders. Each font has the alternate M, S and s, but no alternate R, and these are large, extensive, complete fonts.

I don’t know if Hamilton ever made the alternate R for DeVinne, but a few typefounders did. My DeVinne in metal (also purchased about 1905 by Liesenfeld—I am the third owner of this type) includes about 30 fonts. They are also large and complete fonts, with pin marks from ATF (American Line, circa 1905), BB&S, Central, and Boston. None of the standard DeVinne has an alternate R with the truncated leg; they only have the long, pointed leg that is kerned. DeVinne Condensed, Extended, and Italic do have an alternate R (a truncated leg with a small serif) and the Extended also has an alternate M.

DeVinne was introduced in metal type in April of 1891 by the Central Type Foundry of St. Louis, with the Condensed and Italic versions coming out in 1892, and the Extended in 1896. I don’t have the Hamilton catalogs to determine when DeVinne was first made into wood, but it was probably within three or four years, as the face was very popular and was quickly copied by most of the foundries after it was introduced. The face was still being cast, and presumably cut at Hamilton, too, in the early 1920s. With such a long life, there may have been variations in the manufacturing of the wood body. I believe some of the alternate characters were discontinued, too.

I never considered the slightly undercut body an issue. Old Liesenfeld took good care of his type, as I don’t believe there are any shortages of letters, nor are there any broken pieces among the undercut characters in my collection.


Bob Mullen,
Thanks for your input. Old Liesenfeld could be considered a careful printer and you were lucky. Many of my fonts had either broken, cracked, or removed serifs. I only have that one font of 6-Line De Vinne caps, now, so I hope that John Horn will check those fonts that he has and offers his input. I just noticed that my font does have one R, cut on a 7-Line block (the Q is cut on an 8-Line block), and one R that looks the same as the one in the above photo—it appears to have been undercut, but it is difficult to say. I don’t have a Hamilton lower-case, so I could not comment on the lower z. I tend to think that you are correct about Hamilton omitting some characters, in the 20th-century. I was comparing my font to the showing in their Catalog No.14 (1899/1900), which only shows the long R. Comparing the two Rs that I have, shows that they have different widths, without any alterations, other than possibly having the tail trimmed on the smaller block..
Dave Greer

Yes, DeVinne (correctly pronounced Da Vinney for anyone that cares) in all of its iterations was one of the most popular designs of its time. I have several old rubber stamping kits (I’m attracted to anything typographical) and they were almost always some variation of DeVinne.