(New Castle): Oak Knoll Press, 2008,
First Edition. quarto, (176) pp. Oak Knoll Press, New. Item #18179
This is the first full-length study of the leading American type foundry of the nineteenth century. It is an interesting history of the foundry from both a business and a design point of view. The emphasis is on the design of the hundreds of typefaces that were produced by the foundry, from its inception in the 1860s until its merger with most other American foundries at the end of the century. The author describes (with many detailed photographic illustrations) how changing business conditions and technical improvements in typefounding interacted with changes in public taste to modify, over the decades, the appearance of the typefaces that Americans found in their publications. While this is a study of only one of many American foundries, in many ways MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan can stand as an exemplar of all the rest. It was the descendant of the first successful American type foundry, Binny and Ronaldson, started in Philadelphia in 1796. Extensive business records of the firm exist, as do scores of type specimen books and promotional publications of the foundry. All of these have been used extensively by the author. The scores of typefaces illustrated and described are considered as the ever-changing output of a corporation, with lesser emphasis on the individual creators of each typeface. At the turn of the twentieth century, taste turned away from the florid, ornamented style of the earlier decades. Mr. Clouse has shown in this well-written study that the earlier styles were very successful in their own time and should be judged on that basis. A completely illustrated appendix showing MS&J's patented typefaces is extremely helpful. Very fine.