Runic Expanded 8-line

by Jon on December 12, 2011

Today’s typeface is officially known as Hamilton No. 289. I bought this as part of my big shop purchase last year. Along with the two printing presses came a treasure trove of wood type. Every drawer had something more beautiful than the last. I think even if I didn’t want the presses, I would have bought the shop just for the type! I basically doubled the size of my collection in one fell swoop. It was certainly easier than trolling eBay, hoping to get lucky.

This particular font is a complete uppercase set with some punctuation and, of course, the magical ampersand. No numbers, though. It was made by Hamilton sometime after 1891. By Greg Ruffa’s book, this maker’s stamp (which was almost always stamped on each cap A in a set) was used starting around then. The Runic style was first shown as a condensed face by the William Page company in the mid-1800′s. Expanded was released around 1872, according to Kelly. Neither Kelly nor Ruffa show a specimen on Runic Expanded (or No. 289), but it is shown on page 64 of Hamilton #14.

As with a lot of my type, this needed some good cleaning with mineral spirits to wipe away 100 years of dust. This pangram is the first time I’ve printed any of the type. (A pangram, in case you don’t know, is a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet at least once.) As you can tell, I ran out of Os, so I borrowed one from Runic Condensed. I had to be careful with the impression strength, as some of the characters are slightly warped. I didn’t want to risk cracking the letters in half. That would be bad. The print is on 12×19 Mohawk Superfine. This is a photo as I couldn’t fit it all on my scanner.

Another fun discovery in my collection was a set of 8- and 6-line Runic Condensed. I’ll feature it in another post down the road, but you can see a comparison photo of the 8-line Condensed next to the 8-line Expanded. The condensed version was made by the Tubbs Mfg. Co., not Hamilton. Their version had much sharper points than Hamilton’s.


The Hamilton maker’s stamp on the side of the cap A.