Help confirming type ID: label says “American Bank,” unusual pinmark

I’m helping Jessica Spring at Pacific Lutheran University with their newly acquired Thorniley Collection of type. This font has a case label that says “American Bank” but I haven’t been able to confirm it with my usual sources.

It’s a 36pt metal streamer font. Label shown was printed with the type. The end caps shown in the one photo may not be part of the actual font, so ignore those.

The pinmark is unusual. I believe it doesn’t match any on David MacMillan’s site. I need to bring my actual camera, instead of phone, to get a better photo (for my use, and will send image to David). But even as such, you can see the pinmark looks like 3 or 4 characters in a vertical pyramid, with the bottom character maybe being an “M.”

Does anyone recognize this type or pinmark?

image: PLU_American_Bank-3.jpg


image: PLU_American_Bank-2.jpg


image: PLU_American_Bank-1.jpg


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“American Bank Note,” by John G. Mengel & Co., “Monumental Type Foundry.” Advertised in the June 1885 Inland Printer; ad reproduced on p. 56 of Annenberg’s Typographical Journey through the Inland Printer. I’ll post an image of the showing shortly.

David M.

Here (I hope, if it shows up) is tiny version of a scan of the June 1885 showing of Mengel/Monumental’s “American Bank Note,” done from the original Inland Printer (not Annenberg’s reprint of the page).

This won’t show up very well in a tiny inline BriarPress image, so here’s a link to the original scan:

With apologies to future readers of this thread, right now that image is only up in temporary space and will disappear. Also (with apologies) when I scanned it I was still scanning greyscale, having not yet come to realize that all printing is color printing because no ink is truly black and no paper truly white. It’s a 16 Meg PNG format image.

BTW, I cannot exaggerate the importance of Maurice Annenberg’s “A Typographical Journey through the Inland Printer: 1883-1900.” (Baltimore: Maran Press, 1977). It’s getting harder to find, but is well worth it. It’s a secret weapon of sorts, with which I can pretend to know vastly more about type than I really do. All I did was pull it off the shelf, open it to its index. and look up “American Bank [Note].” So easy it feels like cheating. :-)

And, yes, a Mengel/Monumental TF pinmark would be a splendid addition! BTW, there is no relationship between this 19th c. “Monumental T. F.” and Bob Magill’s Monumental Press and Typefoundry (which is now conducting its typefounding operations as Sterling T.F.) Bob named his Monumental Press and Typefoundry after the name of his first printing press.

David M.

image: inl-prt-v2n9-1885june-megel-amer-bank-note.jpg


A couple of further notes (sorry to go on about this - but, hey, it’s a neat typeface)…

Lasko’s article on pinmarks in the short-lived journal Festina Lente shows two pinmarks for Mengel/Monumental, but they are both large stylized versions of the letter ‘M’, not the “stacked” version you have here. So your pinmark is an addition to the literature.

Mengel/Monumental was one of four Baltimore foundries which were a part of the original formation of ATF in early 1892. The other three were John Ryan & Co. (which was the biggest of them), Charles J. Cary & Co., and Hooper, Wilson & Co. The early ATF corporate annual reports list various consolidations of the foundries, but make no mention of nine of them which were shut down almost immediately (by July 1893). Mengel/Monumental was one of those nine.

The Ryan foundry was the largest in Baltimore, and it became the ATF Baltimore branch / manufacturing foundry before the later consolidation into the Central Plant in NJ in the first years of the 20th century.

The 1895/6 ATF “collective specimen book” does show “American Banknote” (p. 506). It says “Originated by the John Ryan Foundry,” which isn’t quite true. But whoever set the showing knew where it came from, because its text reads: “Monumental National Bank of Wilmington.”

David M.

Wonderful! Thank you David.

I just yesterday ordered the Annenburg book you mentioned (thanks to you recommending it in another post in this discussion group). It sounds like an enjoyable as well as resourceful book. I really like seeing how these typefaces were introduced to the market.

Laura Bentley

And hey… those end caps are original. Nice!

Lastly David, will work on getting a proper photo of that pin mark to you.

First of all, the “end caps” shown in your photo do belong to the American Bank Note font.They are shown in the John G. Mengel & Co. ad shown in th June 1885 issue of the Inland Printer. This ad also states that this face was patented by the Mengel Co. on December 30, 1884.

It is extremely interesting that the ATF collective specimen book of 1895/6 would state that this face originated by the John Ryan Foundry. Maurice Annenberg states that “The story of the John G. Mengel & Co. type foundry is so interlocked with that of the John Ryan & Co. type foundry that many people believed it was the same organization.”

This may help to explain the ATF annotation.

Rick von Holdt

I’m just guessing here, but it might be that the pinmark shown above might be an attempt to represent the monument that gave the foundry its name. Baltimore was the first city to erect a monument to Washington, and was given the sobriquet “The Monumental City” as a result - and that’s why the Mengel foundry took the same name.

image: Monument.jpg


That is gorgeous and needs a complete, high-quality specimen very carefully printed of it. This could be scanned for storage on sites like David’s or the Internet Archive to record it for posterity and give the possibility of a revival some day. If you print it, I’ll happily scan it and pay shipping costs.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

This deserves a recasting!