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In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, a group of English architects and sign writers employed sanserif letters, revived from earlier Roman inscriptional models, for inscriptions and signboards. These sanserifs were typically referred to as “Egyptian letters.” Stylistically, sanserif letters have no serifs, as the name suggests, and tend to have simple, low-contrast strokes.

The sanserif was first shown typographically by William Caslon IV in 1816, and named Egyptian. Vincent Figgins used the term Sans-serif when he first showed the style in 1830, and William Thorowgood introduced the term Grotesque when he first showed the style in 1832. In America the term used for sanserifs was Gothic.

The first Gothic produced as wood type was by Edwin Allen, shown in George Nesbitt’s 1838 First Premium Wood Types Cut by Machinery. Nesbitt also showed an extensive range of Allen’s ornamental Gothics, several of which were unique to wood type. The Gothic would be an important and popular style produced by all wood type manufacturers for the rest of the nineteenth century. Gothics gained importance in the twentieth century, becoming the dominant, and sometimes exclusive, style produced by the wood type manufacturers.

Gothic Light Face
Gothic Special
Gothic Extended
Gothic Condensed Outlined
Gothic Round
Ancient Gothic
No 133
Gothic Lineal