American Wood Type
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The die-cut method consisted of stamping a type-high block of hardwood with a thin steel punch fashioned to match the contour of the letter. Early versions of this method required the type be finished by hand, since it was necessary to remove the remaining wood left in the negative area around the contour. Later refinements finished the entire letter with one stamping.
The die-cut types were produced by the William H. Page Wood Type Co. Precursors to the die-cut method were
developed sometime after 1828. T.L. DeVinne recorded the improvements to the tools used by Wells in conjunction with the router, including the use of patterns made of brass sheet instead of hand-cut cardboard patterns and “cast-brass patterns, with elevated edges, which when pressed in the wood, both marked and engraved the outlines of each type.”† This seems to clearly describe the basic components of the die-cut method. In 1852, John McCreary filed for a patent on a die-cut process; the patent—U.S.
Letters Patent No 9,454, issued December 7, 1852—described many facets of the method later used by William Page in 1887.
George Setchell entered into business with William Page in 1881. Together they patented improvements to the die-cut production method between 1887 and 1889‡, largely to counter the price competition from Hamilton’s Holly Wood Type. In 1889, Setchell sold his interest in the William H. Page Wood Type Co. to Samuel Dauchy. Dauchy became president of the company and oversaw the
acquisition by Hamilton Mfg. Co. in 1891. After the acquisition of the William H. Page Wood Type Co. in 1891, Hamilton continued using this method until around 1906.
† Theodore Low DeVinne, Plain Printing Types, The Practice of Typography (New York: The Century Company, 1900), page 348.
‡ These patents included Patent 203,856 (March 21, 1887), Patent 374,993 & 375,008 (Dec. 20, 1887), Patent 389,112 & 389,113 (Sept. 14, 1888), Patent 402,850 & 402,851 & 402,863 (May 17, 1889).