Font dates, ID, and request to digitize a font

A Briar Press member has sold his shop but would like to have some dates and ID for some fonts he had. I pieced together the file below from some scans he printed 40 years ago. Number 1 & 2 he called Cadillac and Sterling for lack of any better ID. Number 4 is a German font.

The best I can do is suggest that #2 is possibly Solar, made by Pavyer (Pavyer and Bullen?) but this is questionable, so I am hoping that the type experts can fill in the missing names, dates, foundry etc.

Also, anyone out there who can digitize #2? The member is fond of the font and wants to preserve it for computer use. We have discussed the options and possible variations in costs vs quality, but I really have no firm information and thought I’d throw it out to you. I know a lot depends on the proof and he will make a new one.

Hopefully when I send this url, he will chime in himself.

image: type.gif


Log in to reply   11 replies so far

No. 1 is Drew, cast by Barnhart Bros. & Spindler in Chicago, Il. It is shown in their 1898 catalog with a note that the patent is pending. They also cast a condensed version of this face under the name Opaque.

No. 2 is Climax, also from BB&S and shown in the same catalog. The same design is also offered with little ringlets sprinkled throughout, under the name Solar. The two versions of this face appear side-by-side on opposing pages in the catalog. I have a font of 24 pt. Solar, but the pinmark indicates that my font was cast by the City Type Foundry in London, who pirated the face!

I believe No. 3 is correct.

The scan of No. 4 is too blurry for me to get a handle on.


I should have slowed down a bit. In reference to the Climax (and Solar) face, it was designed by C.E. Heyer for BB&S and patented on January 24, 1888. Another similar face with MOST of the same characters is Dearborn.

I had mentioned above that Solar had been pirated and cast by the City Type Foundry in London. Now I am very curious to find out who Payver (or Payver & Bullen) might be. That name(s) aren’t ringing any bells at all with me.

Card Mercantile was produced by the Dickenson Type Foundry in the 1890’s or earlier.

I should also mention that the scan of the faces shown in the querry appear much more condensed than the actual proofs of the faces themselves.


OK, now I know what the formal name of the font is. It is good to know. But, is there any simple way to convert this to be used on computer? I am especially interested in converting the No. 2 Climax.
Ben Redman

I know nothing about what it takes to convert scans of your font to make it useable on a computer. I am sure that it is not a quick and easy proposition. It can be done, but someone more knowledgeable than me will have to address this for you.

What I can tell you is that the largest/cleanest/sharpest proof of the original font is what you want to base it on. My 1898 BB&S catalog displays a page of Climax in 18 through 48 pt. It also shows all the figures, but no punctuation. The old boys were clever and even if you pick and chose from line to line, they do not show a complete alphabet on this display page.

Most of these century-old fonts in our posessions have been used, and the degree to which they have been worn or nicked-up depends on the individual font and its history of use. I can tell you that Climax had dissappeared by the time BB&S issued their 1907 catalog, so your font is indeed a century old.

Depending on your skills, you can pull as clean a proof as possible of your 18 pt. font, enlarge the proof and choose the best example of each character as a starting point. You can then tinker with the enlarged proof to clean them up as much as possible to get back to the original sharpness and then start the scanning process to digitize the font, using your best characters.

A quick example of usage wear would be to compare an E to a Z. The Z should have had little or no useage at all while the E would be a character subject to a lot of usage.

Hope this helps for starters.


Hello Elizabeth,
I’d be willing to do it if I can keep the type! Does it have a lowercase?

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Daniel - I think this font only came with uppercase letters, and the whole shop has been sold including the type. Ask Redman Printing, above.

Pavyers and Bullen were an English firm. They went out of business just before WW2 but had quite a long history…will find out more.

So far I have seen references to Pavyer; Benjamin Pavyer & Son, 1900; and Pavyers and Bullen. No other dates given.

A prolific partner of the Type Heritage Project has expressed interest in digitizing revivals of Solar, Climax and the [fabulous!] Dearborn Initials:

Daniel, do you still intend to digitize it/them? If so, I have some pretty good specimens of the full alphanumeric sets. Maybe you should join us [LOL!].

BTW Elizabeth is quite correct—there was no LC for them.

Cheers, Anna

Type Historian.

What can I say? I have browsed the typehertiage site a few times and have not been impressed with the actual knowledge of type history displayed there.

When I alluded to Climax, Solar and Dearborn in the above thread, I was not in any way referring to Dearborn Initials. They truly are fabulous, but there was also a face simply named Dearborn that also used a majority of the characters found in Climax and Solar.

I laud your enthusiasm to save and digitize many of these great old faces. But it would be so much better if a bit more research, or at least passing this stuff by some sort of ‘panel’ knowledgeable about antique type,to get the basic facts straight instead of having to read and cringe at some of the “info” being offered.

I have a lot of knowledge about old faces, but still consider myself to be in the learning mode. In fact the more you know, the more you realize that you don’t know. Gleaning and capturing little tidbits and details is an enjoyable and ongoing exercise.

Rick shows Pavyer starting casting type in the 1820s; Bullen starting around 1840; them amalgamating around 1905, and ceasing judt before WW2.

Here is the fascinating text (well, I found it fascinating!) of a trial in 1846 in which Pavyer was accused of receiving stolen type moulds: