Something is wrong with Page 205 of Nicolette Gray’s definitive history of 19th-century type trends in Great Britain. Surrounded by designs of the 1870s, the sophisticated styling of Rococo (No. 224) looks very “out of place”—because it is out of place! She documents this face as “Shanks, c. 1874 (from U.S.A.).”

•This attribution contradicts her conviction as stated in the book Introduction, where she acknowledges “the beginning of American influence in the eighties.”¹
•Everyone makes typographic errors: The year was 1884, not 1874. Gray would NOT have made a mistake that refutes the major premise of her meticulous research.

•In Appendix II, she lists the 1800–1890 specimen books she consulted at St. Bride’s Library (London) and the ATF Library (Columbia University, New York). All were issued by TFs in Great Britain.
•Only two published by Shanks are listed; she reckons their dates as c1872 and c1874.¹ Perhaps a loose specimen of Rococo was “stuck in” the later one, as she so carefully notes in other discussions?

The Spring 1883 edition of Hailing’s Circular features Central TF’s Geometric; the specimen text reads, “We have been appointed Agents for the sale of the productions of the Central Type Foundry.” Rococo is listed among the faces available. It tops six specimens of Central designs advertised by Hailing in Spring 1884.

Robert Mullen’s extensive study of St. Louis type foundries accounts that Rococo was introduced by the Central TF in 1883 and hints that it was “possibly designed by C.E. Heyer.”²

Heyer [1841–1897], a German immigrant then associated with Barnhart Brothers & Spindler (Chicago),³ was a super-star designer (50 design patents plus multiple attributions) and key “dot” in a network connecting Central, Inland, BBS and three TFs in Boston.

Application for a patent of Rococo was filed by Central partner James A. St. John, Inventor of Record, in November 1882 and approved in March 1883 [USPTO D13729].

This letterpress typeface has been digitally archived for posterity.

More THP revival projects:
More cool undigitized fonts:

More updates of Nicolette Gray's research of 19th-century type trends in Great Britain:

¹Gray, N. (1938): XIXth Century Ornamented Types and Title Pages (pages 17, 107, 146 and 205). Faber and Faber Limited, London.
²Mullen, R.A. (2005): Recasting A Craft|St. Louis Typefounders Respond to Industrialization (page 136). Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale.
³Loy, W.E. (1898–1900): Designers and Engravers of Type. In The Inland Printer, January 1900.
6 photos · 34 views