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Emancipation Proclamation stamp

Contributed by Chris Purcell on Dec 14th, 2012. Artwork published in .
Source: ©USPS. License: All Rights Reserved.


This stamp, to be issued next month, commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

While most of the typefaces used are available in digital versions (like Playbill and DeVinne), the stamp was produced by Hatch Show Print in Memphis, and so the type and ornaments are all wood. Rob Roy Kelly’s book on wood type calls the face in line 2 “Gothic Tuscan”, and the one on line 3 “French Clarendon”.

The art director was Antonio Alcalá.

A 16″×23″ letterpress poster of this design is also available on the USPS website. (Gail Anderson will sign the first 1,000 of the run of 5,000 posters.)

Source: License: All Rights Reserved.






Artwork location

5 Comments on “Emancipation Proclamation stamp”

  1. From top to bottom:

    HENCEFORWARD – Gothic Condensed or Extra Condensed (depending on manufacturer)

    SHALL BE – Gothic Tuscan Condensed

    FREE – Antique Extra Condensed (the French Clarendons typically have bracketed serifs)


    ABRAHAM LINCOLN – Old Style Antique

    1863 – De Vinne Extended

    FOREVER – De Vinne Extended

    USA – One of the many bold Gothic variants. Note the acute terminals of the S and the low-waisted cross bar of A.

  2. Thanks for the typeface ID’s, David!

  3. I would offer up a correction, a clarification and some nerdy details:

    Hatch is in fact in Nashville, not Memphis (but you’re only off by about 200 miles…)

    the link to the Kelly Collection website is much appreciated, but while the Collection was the basis for Kelly’s 1969 book all the the information on the site has been thouroughly researched and updated (the info in Kelly’s book being close to 50 years without a factual correction).

    And Mr Wolske, just to add a bit of nerdy detail to your spot-on identifications…

    The Old Style Antique is more than likely the Heber Wells design/cut (renamed No 5137 by Hamilton after the buy-out in 1899)

    The Gothic Tuscan Condensed is more than likely the William Page design/cut—the smallish counters and the slight upward curve in the top of the crossbar of the 'E’—(this design was renamed No 4020 by Hamilton after the buy-out of 1891).

    The Star Boarder (I know this site is about type) set above and below 'EMANCIPATION PROCLOMATION’, was first shown by William Page in 1865 and very likely originated as wood type.


  4. Thanks, Prof. Shields, for your notes. I didn’t know there was a new edition of Kelly’s book — it’s now on my wish list. 

  5. I’ll add one more bit of info spurred on by a discussion on the letpress listserve regarding the originating dates of the types in the stamp. Good points were made that many of the type and borders shown in the stamp were in fact designed after the period of the civil war, some by several by decades, and many were not in common use.

    It was a good discussion about the difference between actually quoting the visual composition of a particular time and the pastiche of what is assumed the period looked like—what we think 1863 looked like is many times very different from what 1863 actually looked like.

    I thought I might offer up specific dates to add to the discussion. I’ve added dates for the wood type shown in the postage stamp for clarification.

    HENCEFORWARD—Gothic Condensed or Extra Condensed [1854]
    This face was first shown as wood type by Darius Wells and E.R. Webb in their 1854 Specimen of Wood Type.

    SHALL BE—Gothic Tuscan Condensed [1849]
    This face was first shown as wood type by Darius Wells and E.R. Webb in their 1849 Specimen of Plain and Ornamental Wood Type.

    FREE—Antique Extra Condensed
    “French Antiques” were first introduced as foundry type in 1856 by Robert Beasley in England. They made thier way to wood type by the mid-to-late1860s.


    ABRAHAM LINCOLN—Old Style Antique [1890]
    The Old Style Antique was first shown by Heber Wells in his 1890 Specimens of Wood Type.

    1863—De Vinne Extended [1895]
    This face was first shown as wood type by J.E. Hamilton in his 1895 DeVinne Series Wood Type Specimens. “…made in wood by permission of the Central Type Foundry of St. Louis, Mo.”

    FOREVER—De Vinne Extended [1895]

    USA—One of the many bold Gothic variants. [1838]
    This face was first shown as wood type by Edwin Allen in George Nesbitt’s 1838 First Premium Wood Types Cut by Machinery.

    The Star Boarder set above and below 'EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION’, was first shown by William Page in 1865 and very likely originated as wood type.

    The solid wood rule was most likely available earlier, but was first explicitly
    indicated for sale in Wells & Webb’s 1849 Specimens of Wood Type.

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