Auction Poster, Shakspeare’s House, 1847

We came by this poster for the 1847 sale of Shakspeare’s (sic) House at an auction in Ballarat in 2012. After a little on-line investigation, we found that a copy of the poster is also held by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust at The Shakespeare Centre, Henley Street, Stratford-on-Avon.

Shakspeare’s House Auction Poster, 1847

A veritable riot of fonts! 

True to the times, the poster uses a large number and variety of fonts. The use of ten different fonts for the one subject on a poster (measuring some 44cm x 56.5cm) is still surprising.

What is perhaps even more surprising is the “age” of the fonts used – from a very crude sans serif in the headline (no wonder the term “grotesque” took hold), to a beautifully resolved geometric that pre-dates Paul Renner’s Futura by over 75 years, through to precursors – coincidental or inspirational – of, amongst many others, Bertram G. Goodhue’s Cheltenham Old Style.

The printer 

The printer was Alfred Robins of 7 Southampton St., Strand – perhaps the same Mr. Robins who was “highly flattered” to have been chosen to present the Immortal Bard’s house for auction.

Font identification 

Using various resources (“The Encyclopaedia of Type Faces” by Jasper, Berry and Johnson and “An Atlas of Typeforms” by Sutton and Bartram for example), we’ve tried, to varying degrees of success, to identify the fonts used.

So, starting at the top and proceeding down, line by line, the fonts are:

1     unidentified Grotesque 1 (note the difference between the first and third ‘S’ and the second ‘S’)

2     unidentified Grotesque 2

3     a precursor / similar to Cheltenham Old Style – similar also to Gloucester (Monotype)

(also lines 6 & 7, 10, 12, 15-17, 19-28, 30 & 31 and 33-37)

4     a precursor / similar to Gothic Condensed No 25 (Linotype)

(also line 18)

5     a precursor / similar to Figaro (Monotype) – similar also to Playbill (Stephenson Blake)

8     unidentified slab serif or Egyptian – not unlike Rockwell (Monotype) and Serifa (Bauer)

(also lines 11 & 13)

9     a precursor / similar to Verona (Stephenson Blake)

14   a precursor / similar to Century Bold (ATF) or Modern Bold (Monotype)

29   a precursor / similar to Tempo Heavy (Ludlow) – similar also to Futura Bold (Bauer)

32   a precursor / similar to Parsons (ATF).

If anyone can provide more information to help accurately identify any of the fonts, please contact us – we’d be pleased to hear from you.