Cool Never Fades At The Hamilton Wood Type And Printing Museum

  • Fonts in Use
Fonts in Use | Yves Peters | July 2, 2011

For its Fall Collection Target, the American retailing company headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, found its inspiration in vintage wood type. Their Vintage Varsity line was created in partnership with the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum, where the Target Design Team found antique woodblocks definitely worthy of dusting off. Featuring the images from Hamilton’s Globe Printing Plate collection this assortment of shirts, sweatshirts and more will be featured as part of Target’s Cool Never Fades campaign. This collection of clothing and accessories will be available in stores July 11th. The short promotional video after the jump shows a little bit how that collaboration took form, and gives a sneak peek of the results of this marriage between wood type and fashion.

Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum

The Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum is the only museum dedicated to the preservation, study, production and printing of wood type. With 1.5 million pieces of wood type and more than 1,000 styles and sizes of patterns, Hamilton’s collection is one of the premier wood type collections in the world. In addition to wood type, the Museum is home to an amazing array of advertising cuts from the 1930s through the 1970s, and all of the equipment necessary to make wood type and print with it, as well as equipment used in the production of hot metal type, tools of the craft and rare type specimen catalogues.

Located between the East and West Twin Rivers on Lake Michigan, the Hamilton Type Foundry was the largest wood type producer in the country, when virtually everything was letterpress printed. The company was founded in 1880, and in addition to wood type, the company has manufactured medical office furniture, light tables, the first gas powered clothes dryer (really!) and more; now in its 130th year, the company produces steel lab equipment.

Volunteers

Established and managed by the Two Rivers Historical Society, the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum is in its twelfth year as a living museum. The Museum is operated by volunteers of the Two Rivers Historical Society, many of whom are part of the history of Hamilton, as former employees. They consider themselves quite lucky to have among them former type cutters, trimmers, and sales staff, who are helping us tell the story!

Hamilton volunteers host educational demonstrations, field trips, workshops and offer opportunities for artists, printers, historians and other scholars to experiment with this vast wood type collection.

Jim Van Lanen, Sr., the founder of the Museum, explains:

We have benefited from the life experiences of the many people who actually made the exquisitely detailed wood type and who still reside in Two Rivers. These people are in their 70s and 80s. They show us, from memory, how the type workshop really operated – the old secrets that make these extraordinarily beautiful and distinctively American alphabets.

A Working Museum

The Museum, at 40,000 square feet, is no doubt one of the largest fully functional workshops in the world. Not only do the thousands of visitors who come through every year get to see how wood type was made at the foundry, students, artists, typographers and designers visit to take workshops and actually put their hands on and use the collection to create works of art and scholarship in our pressroom at the Museum. To be able to use the type and cuts and a press to make a print can broaden a design student’s understanding of typography and colour and layout, and artists make work with wood type that would have surprised and delighted Ed Hamilton, the company’s founder.

The museum housed in an original Hamilton building that dates from 1927.

FontShop has several FontLists with wood type, both clean and weathered.

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3 Comments:

  1. Did you know that Mark Simonson (www.marksimonson.com) was art director for the Target company? There is a strong typographic influence during the last 20 years, I think.

    Posted by Henk Gianotten on Jul. 2, 2011
  2. Oh I so fancy a trip out there for a workshop. Thanks for the post :-)

    Posted by Robert Newman on Jul. 2, 2011
  3. I have been to the museum a few times, it is in my home town, and am so impressed with it. I remember when my dad worked there, as well as a lot of other relatives over the years, starting in the very beginning of Hamilton’s. I would like more information about the workshops, and hope to find the details about the one coming up for November 4 and 5. I may be able to check that out with a visit this weekend.

    Posted by Gloria Koeser Laundrie on Aug. 17, 2011

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