What typeface is this?

I looked for the typeface on the attached image on my “Metal Typefaces of the 20th Century” book and did not find it.

Can anyone identify it?


image: typeface_1.jpg


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Herein lies the tail. It is late nineteenth or very early twentieth century. I know of only less than half a dozen other existing fonts of this face. All of them are the 12 pt., size, which is what I assume this is as well?????

All the other fonts are on a body that shows only a plain “12” in the pinmark and they all have two nicks low on the front and one thin nick high on the back. This unique combination indicates that the fonts were cast by BB&S in Chicago.

This face has eluded a positive identification so far because it does not seem to have been shown or offered in any BB&S catalog.

Many years ago Dave Peat identified this face as “Buster Brown”, but was not able to verify that.

I have a rather large font of it, and my best “guess” is that this may have been a proprietary font to be exclusively used for the advertising of Buster Brown shoes, and was therefore never offered for sale to printers. It could well have been held in larger metropolitan centers to be used by the advertising agency(s?) responsible for producing Buster Brown advertisements around the country. This is purely conjecture on my part.

If anyone has any further information on this face, there are several of us who would be very interested in hearing more about it.

Thanks for the info so far. It is a 12pt font. I will check the nicks tomorrow when I’m at my studio and will let you know what I found out. How interesting that there are not many of these around… Talk to you soon.



This looks to be the same typeface. I saw an unlabeled galley containing it in 24pt. at Skyline Type Foundry.

image: BusterBrown24pt.jpg



This is indeed an epiphany. A few of us have been kicking this around for over a decade and up to this point the only known fonts have all been 12 pt. and were cast by BB&S in Chicago. The nicks on the type identified BB&S as the maker.

I’ll e-mail Sky and see what he can add to this discussion.

Bob’s images of Buster Brown advertising confirm its original usage.


Skyline does indeed have a galley full of this type, discovered in a large lot bought for scrap, and most of it has never been inked—but it’s 12pt, not 24pt. I have divided the 10-1/2 lbs into three good-sized fonts. I will likely be bringing one of them to the St. Louis APA Wayzgoose next month to sell. May put another on eBay in the near future. Anyone interested in acquiring a font may contact me and I’ll keep you in the loop.

TH Groves has been duly thrashed for posting the picture with the type nicks-down.

Sky Shipley
Skyline Type Foundry

Thanks for the confirmation of the 12 pt. size Sky. So the theory that his was the only size ever cast remains intact.My take on the whole thing is that this was cast exclusively to be used for Buster Brown Shoes ads and was probably controlled by an Ad agency (agencies?) in major metropolitan cities around the country. The nicks on both sides of the body are the giveaway that the type was cast at BB&S.

If you split your stash into three fonts, I think there will still be less than 10 folks that have any of this. I probably have something close to the size of your original find because I can set a fairly decent sized page with my font.

A really “funky” and unique face. Around 15 years ago, my stepson was getting married and he and his fiance wanted me to print their wedding invitations and collateral materials. I showed them samples of my work so they could get a feel for what typefaces I have. Believe it or not they choose the Buster Brown. On top of that, it was printed in purple ink on pearlescent stock. Sounds awful but it turned out to be stunning and at that point the ONLY wedding invitations in the world to use that typeface!

Rick von Holdt

I was unaware of 2-sided nicks for BB&S. I was looking at some 72 pt BB&S type I have earlier today and noted it has 2 pin marks, one on each side of the body which I had not noticed before—it was Munder Venezian.

Hi Fritz,

Just to clarify, BB&S cast smaller sizes of type using a scheme that incorporated nicks on both the front and the back of the body. We are talking about nicks here, not pinmarks on the side of the body.

The 12 pt. Buster Brown is cast with two nicks on the lower part of the front of the body. The lower of the two nicks is wider than the one just above it. The third nick is easy to miss because it is located high on the back of the body and appears almost to be a scratch because it is so narrow and not deep at all. Consistant on every piece of the type. Something unique to BB&S.

Rick von Holdt

Yes, I’m under control on nicks and pinmarks. What I don’t see on the small point sizes of BB&S type in my collection is the high nick on the back of the body. I have samples of 6 pt. Munder Venezian and 8 pt. Cooper Fullface at hand and there is no nick or scratch on the back of the type. Though I was puzzled by the double pinmarks, on the sides of the 72 pt. MV. It looks like type they cast on automatic casters as opposed to pivotals had a trim knife that cut down into the back of the body slightly, but that’s on much ATF type as well. Knife settings are controlled by the machine operator and are not part of the mold.

Hi Fritz,

I believe that the high (very thin) nick on the back of the body was only used early or pre-20th century at BB&S. There have been a few other folks that have confirmed that this appears on some BB&S small sizes of type.

The person that originally clued me in to the name of this type originally was Dave Peat. He had tentatively named it Buster Brown (because of the style of early Buster Brown ads) but was hesitant about it simply because he could not find ANY reference or foundry specimen of it anywhere. He also told me about the high nick on the back. Everyone else that has some of this type (that I know about) has confirmed the 12 pt. size and that there is indeed a high nick on the back of the body. Dave said that this feature definitely meant that it was cast at BB&S.

Rick von Holdt

I can confirm what Rick said, that my font of 12-point “Buster Brown,” which was obtained from Dave Peat, has that fine nick, high on the back side, but it also has a very identifiable “V” pin mark, which was attributed to BB&S. I think that the high-nick was plowed/cut into the type after casting.
Dave Greer

The recently-discussed font of ultra-rare Buster Brown type will be put up for sale in the APA St. Louis Wayzgoose Auction on Saturday, June 25. If you will not be in attendance, you may email me your proxy bid and I will be glad to handle it for you. Can ship securely anywhere in the US for $6.80.

The type is 12 point and weighs in at 3¾ lbs. There are 45 characters (oddly, the exclamation point does not seem to have been cut for this face). Scheme is a plentiful 45A and while it has the patina of age, most of the type appears never to have been inked.

Below is a photo reduced to 40% size. (Upon request the 100% pic will be sent for closer examination.) Any bids must be in before my departure on Sunday, June 19 for St. Louis, as I do not receive email when traveling.

Sky Shipley

image: Buster Brown

Buster Brown