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A: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Binny & Ronaldson Issue the First American Type Specimen


In 1809 Binny & Ronaldson, the first type foundry in the United States, issued the first type specimen published in the United States. Printed by Fry & Kammerer in Philadelphia, this pamphlet of 13 leaves was entitled A Specimen of Metal Ornaments cast at the Letter Foundery of Binny & Ronaldson. Only two copies survived, of which only the copy in the Typographic Library and Museum of the American Type Founders Company in Jersey City is complete. In 1924 the American Institute of Graphic Arts issued a facsimile of the unique complete copy with a brief afterward by Carl Purlington Rollins.  Peculiarly, the two double page fold-outs are single images of two different jockeys walking two different anatomically correct stallions.

Daniel B. Updike wrote of this specimen:

"It was not a printer' specimen of types, but a founder's specimen of ornaments. About one hundred ornamental cuts are shown. In appearance the designs seem largely inspired from French sources. A few of them are like those shown in Pierre's collection of 1785. The general type of decoration in others is similar to cuts in the Gillé specimen of 1808. A feature of the book is its versions of the arms of the United States. Ill-executed mechanically for the most part, from a decorative point of view the collection is respectable and has considerable style" (Updike, Printing Types: Their History, Forms, and Use II [1922] 153-4).

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