Early 1900s Serif

tylor.reimer's picture

I found this old oil can in a local museum and had to take a photo. I'm trying to identify the typeface used for "PRAIRIE CITY OIL CO." It looks similar to Copperplate in many ways but a bit more condensed with some curled 'C's. Anyone might know where I can find a digital version of this font or trace down a better specimen that'd be great.

prairiecityoilco-type.jpg89.89 KB
DSCN22801.jpg207.41 KB


donshottype's picture

I love the character of these old labels. This design seems to date from about 19oo. Hand-lettering -- note the variation in letters such as C -- but some features are familiar. The "Detroit" angled serifs are used in fonts like Brothers http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/emigre/brothers-ot/ but here the letter-forms are rounded instead of angled.

Ryuk's picture

MANUFACTURED ONLY BY THE PRAIRIE CITY OIL CO.: I guess you could easily combine Billhead 1890 /C and 1900 style.
WINNIPEG LIMITED: some kind of hand-drawn Gotham, Garner or Egyptian may do the job.
UFFALO: concur with Don on 'Detroit serif' style; Fairplex might work as well;
OIL: same 'Detroit serif' style but /O reminds me of something... Should check the rest of Letterhead Fonts...

Birdseeding's picture

Yeah, I was going to say, Fairplex is the Emigre "Detroit serif" font, Brothers is more of a Latin-meets-Grecian. Easily confused though, Emigre fonts with similar expressions and evocations. :)

donshottype's picture

MANUFACTURED ONLY BY THE PRAIRIE CITY OIL CO: I agree with Ryuk that Billhead 1900 is a good starting point for duplicating most of the letters, modified by adapting the top half of Billhead 1890 for the _C_. You have to do a fair amount of clipping of some but not all mini-serifs, flatten the dished ends of the strokes, and do various adjustments to get it right. I would use the lowercase version of the letters:

The source of the curls on Billhead 1890 is unknown, but I suggest that it might be Art Gothic http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/hihretrofonts/art-gothic-hih/

tylor.reimer's picture

Great finds. Billhead looks like a great starting point. I thought about recreating the letters myself in Illustrator but was having trouble seeing the detailing on the serif style in my sample. Does anyone have access to some early 1900 type specimens? Any online resources.

donshottype's picture

Archive org has some excellent quality scans of specimen Books from the era, for example Amercian Type Founders 1912 http://www.archive.org/details/americanspecimen00amerrich
Keystone 1906 https://archive.org/details/abridgedspecimen00keysrich Inland 1907 https://archive.org/details/specimenbookcata00inla Barnhart&Spindler1907

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