work blog about search

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
recommended reading

Ace Jet 170
One of the finest individual design blogs (it’s been going as long as I have!) from Irish designer Richard Weston. Covering found type, print and stuff.

Casual Optimist
If you want to know what’s happening in the world of book cover design, keep an eye on this excellent blog by Dan Wagstaff.

Design Declares
A growing group of designers, design studios, agencies and institutions who have declared a climate and ecological emergency. As part of the global declaration movement, we commit to harnessing the tools of our industry to reimagine, rebuild and heal our world.

Eye Magazine
The best graphic design magazine out there, from editor John L. Walters and art director Simon Esterson.

Flat File
A fantastic collection of online publications based on pieces from the Herb Lubalin Study Centre.

Justin’s Amazing World
Justin Hobson, of Fenner Paper, is a bona fide expert on paper & print, and a charming chap to boot. His blog features in-depth analysis of the projects he’s worked on, including a few of our own.
One of the oldest blogs on the web. And one of the best.

Spitalfields Life
The anonymous Gentle Author of this wonderful blog has promised to write 10,000 stories about the life & culture of Spitalfields in east London, writing one story each and every day.

St Bride Library
The St Bride Library houses one of the world’s finest collection of books (& related objects) about printing and design. It also hosts unmissable design talks and events.