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Early Type Specimens from St Bride Library

I’ve been having a bit of a dig around in the early type specimens which St Bride Library posted onto earlier in the year, and there’s a heap of lovely stuff there – both in terms of letterforms, and the choice of words. Here are just a few pages from a selection of the specimens (all English ones) in chronological order – these ones date from 1798 through to 1830. (I’m assuming Yam Man was an early precursor of Banana Man?)

1798: Specimens of Types by Fry and Steele:

1819: A specimen of printing types, etc. by Blake, Garnett and Co:

1824: Specimen of Modern Printing Types by Edmund Fry:

1825: New specimen of printing types from the Fann Street letter foundry by W. Thorowgood and Company:

1827: Specimen of printing types by Blake, Garnett & Company:

First ever use of the term ‘man magnet’?

1828: Specimen of printing types by Vincent Figgins:

1830: Bower and Bacon’s improved specimen of printing types:

1830: Specimen of printing types by Caslon, Son & Livermore:

Check out St Bride’s full set of Early Type Specimens on And if you want to skip forward a couple of hundred years, check out my specimens for Hawkland and De Worde, and my sampler for Jeremy Tankard Typography (which features a gentle reference to the Edmund Fry specimen).

posted: 19 October 2023
categories: Typography
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