First Known Woman Type Designer?

Does anyone know of any women type designers prior to Bertha Goudy 1869-1935 or Elizabeth Friedlander 1903-1984 or can you point me to a source? If you don't know specific names do you have any literature that mentions women designing type? (I know they were compositors and sometimes printers and type finishers, I am looking for the earliest woman who designed type). Thanks.

Leopard1968's picture

The first Typedesign made by a woman, is Belladonna from Hildegard Henning, 1912 for the Typefoundry Julius Klinkhardt in Leipzig, Germany (later the Foundry was aquired by the H. Berthold AG).

John Hudson's picture

From the Klingspor Museum specimen:

lafemmesoixante's picture

Thank you for the information on Hildegard Henning, someone that I had not heard of before.It was very helpful.

In digging further I have found the name of Elisha Pechey .. designer of several faces for Stephenson Blake...her first font dating from the 1860's. I was able to find her as part of an online listing of the fonts by that foundry.
Do you know of other online listings of early foundries? or suggestions of a place that holds a library of old specimen books I could peruse for other names? Thank you.

Nick Shinn's picture

El[e]isha is a man's name. From biblical times.

lafemmesoixante's picture

It did seem too good to be true so thank you for the correction. It is spelled as Elisha at my first source, but I now see it as you wrote, Eleisha on another, and there seems to be plenty about that person in Roy Millington's book about the foundry.
So for now the record goes back to Hildegard ...

blank's picture

Henning seems to be the likely candidate, but you should ask James Mosley and Johanna Drucker if they know of earlier women type designers.

nina's picture

.

blank's picture

And now I’m wondering if there were any women working with type in Asia earlier than in the rest of the world. It’s a good thing I don’t know Korean or I’d have to start doing some research…

Leopard1968's picture

The earliest woman in Typedesign in America was Elizabeth M. Collwell.
She designed the Typeface Colwell Handlettter with Italic in 1916 for American Type Founders.

blank's picture

You should read Mac McGrew's entry on Colwell Handletter before you run with that information.

lafemmesoixante's picture

Thank you for your continued help, I really appreciate it.

Can anyone clarify the American woman's name? Is it Elizabeth M. Collwell or is it M. Elizabeth Colwell? I have found it several ways... and read several different versions of who and how on the face in question.

dezcom's picture

There were plenty of uncredited women who worked in type houses early on making drawings but few are credited with the design

lafemmesoixante's picture

Although instinctively I agree with your statement I am trying to compile a documented history. If you have a written source that verifies your statement,"There were plenty of uncredited women who worked in type houses early on making drawings" could you please name it? Thank you for your help.

dezcom's picture

Mostly, I know from seeing original drawings at the Type Museum in Boston. There were numerous women's names on the drawings.

lafemmesoixante's picture

Road trip!

lafemmesoixante's picture

Before I start driving...is the museum you visited the Museum of Printing in Andover? If not can you post the link? Thanks

blank's picture

If you’re interested in drawing credits you should also contact Paul Shaw who has examined the ATF drawings in the Smithsonian.

dezcom's picture

Yes. We were there about 5 years ago as part of a TypeCon Boston conference and were given a special tour and lecture and got to see hundreds of drawings. It was a great experience.

kentlew's picture

Nancy — Call in advance to make an appointment. Hours are currently limited.

I’m sure you can get access to the Mergenthaler drawings for research, but they are not on display or generally available to the public.

There are literally tens of thousands of drawings, and searching all of them for female employees will be tedious and time-consuming, if that becomes your goal. (Some of the signatures are not so easy to decipher, nor to tell gender.)

But here, for example, you can see that Dorothy Arbogast did the drawing for the 12-pt Caledonia italic p on July 22, 1937.

kentlew's picture

P.S. — I doubt you will find any drawing, by man or woman, earlier than about 1915 when C.H. Griffith overhauled the drawing office and implemented this kind of systematic and documented approach.

And I believe that the Mergenthaler Linotype Co. office documentation (employment records, correspondence, etc.) went elsewhere or was probably destroyed.

lafemmesoixante's picture

Kent,
What a nice little gem of information--If you don't mind I'll contact you via your website to find out where you found Dorothy's drawings, etc. And I will take your advice to set up in advance. Thank you for the visual and the info.

kentlew's picture

Nancy — That image is an example of a typical working drawing from Mergenthaler Linotype Co. The entire collection of these is now archived at the Museum of Printing in North Andover and is what Chris (dezcom) was referring to above.

Feel free to contact me offline.

gillo's picture

Women in the printing trades, a sociological study

I don't know that this book includes anything on design specifically, but it does have a section about girls working in typefoundries (and I do mean girls here), and there are various charts describing early census records of males and females employed in such fields as "type cutting and founding," which might include designing. It also provides a nice perspective on gender politics in the industry around the turn of the century.

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