1800s Ephemera

Written by Christian Palino on February 28, 2005

Mark Forder collects 19th-century ephemera — from broadsides and billheads to photographs. Especially lovely are the many hand writing samples to be seen throughout.

Christian Palino is a designer and educator living in San Francisco. He is currently a Product Design Manager at Facebook and teaches Interaction Design at CCA. He previously worked at OpenTable, IDEO and Adaptive Path.


  1. bola says:

    A lot of fonts can emerge from this collection

  2. Do you mean there are 19th-century fonts that remain unavailable because they have not been re-issued? All the type you see on the website from the 1800s (note: no apostrophe needed pace Mr. Forder) is available in metal or digital or both. However, Mr. Forder certainly has a lovely set of paper and he’s to be commended on it. We’re jealous here!
    http://www.writtenbyhand.com Manuscript Americana

  3. In fact, hundreds if not thousands of typefaces from the 19th century never really made it to the 20th century.

    For instance, in the US, American Type Founders was formed in the late 19th century as a consolidation of dozens of small foundries from around the country. Font libraries were consolidated and typefaces that were considered “obsolete” were dropped. Into the early 20th century ATF’s library was continually pared down partly to make room for new designs, but also so resources were not wasted on faces that had gone into disuse.

    It’s true that a great many typefaces from before the 20th century are currently available, but many–possibly the majority–are not.

  4. Also, there are even thousands of typefaces from the 20th century that have never been digitized.

  5. bola says:

    I was suggesting that people could make new fonts based in this samples

  6. Hrant says:

    > there are even thousands of typefaces
    > from the 20th century that have never
    > been digitized.

    Shshsh! :-/


  7. Gerald Lange says:

    Not to mention, shshsh, that many of the faces in the ephemera collection are not “fonts” at all, but hand drawn.

  8. >Shshsh! :-/

    I know, I know. Just saying…

  9. Barbara Jo Fleming says:

    Could you give me the name of a typeface in common use by Civil War era newspapers. If you happen to know one used by newspapers in Richmond, that would be terrific. I am writing an historical novel set in Virginia and I like to have my details as accurate as possible. Thank you ever so much.

  10. Michael says:

    I am having a stone wall constructed and intend to have bronze letters and numbers set into the mortar. Can anyone tell me what font style would have been used in the 1880’s to early 1900’s? The wall will be in Central Florida and I would would like to make it authentic for that period and geographic region if possible. Thanks

Post a Comment

Comments at Typographica are moderated and copyedited, just like newspaper “Letters to the Editor”. Abusive or off-topic comments are not published. We appreciate compliments, but don’t publish them unless they add to the dialog. Thank you!