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The Black Cat (March 1896) poster

Contributed by Martin Silvertant on Nov 19th, 2021. Artwork published in
circa March 1896
.
    The Black Cat poster (March 1896). Forms part (No. 6) of the Artist poster filing series (Library of Congress).
    Source: www.loc.gov The Shortstory Publishing Co. License: All Rights Reserved.

    The Black Cat poster (March 1896). Forms part (No. 6) of the Artist poster filing series (Library of Congress).

    A 23×15 cm color poster for The Black Cat (March, 1896), illustrated by Nelly Littlehale Murphy (1867–1941). Forms part of the Artist poster filing series (Library of Congress).

    The title “The Black Cat” may be lettering rather than a typeface, but its skeleton is strongly reminiscent of – and probably based on – Columbia Old Style (from around 1893).

    The book titles on the lower left (Eleanor Stevens’ Will, etc.) seem to be set in one of the commercial copies of William Morris’ custom typeface for the Kelmscott Press – known as the Golden Type (1890), based on Nicolas Jenson’s Roman from 1470 – possibly Jenson Old Style by Joseph W. Phinney (1848–1934). In terms of digital fonts, P22 Morris Golden (2002) by Richard Kegler, and Phinney Jenson (2007) by Tom Wallace seem to be the closest matches.

    The names (“Isabel Scott Stone” etc.) appear to be set in Cushing, later also known as Cushing No. 2. Mac McGrew writes that this face was “cut about 1897 by ATF” – if the ID is correct, Cushing was around at least a year earlier, and this poster would present an early use of it. In 2020, Font Bureau released Custer, which is a digital interpretation by David Berlow, reviving the name that Barnhart Brothers & Spindler had used for their copy of Cushing.

    The other text elements are probably lettering, not type. “March 1896.” is in a thin and wide style with spur serifs. Some details like the high center in M and the sloping stem in a are a bit similar to Della Robbia, designed by Thomas Maitland Cleland based on 15th-century Florentine inscriptional capitals and released around 1902 (and hence after this poster was printed). The last line with the sender information (“The Shortstory Publishing Co.”) is rendered in a monolinear slab serif. Small differences in the repeating letters (see especially the spine of S) suggest that it’s hand drawn.

    Typefaces

    • Jenson Old Style
    • Cushing
    • unidentified typeface

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