Here is a photo of some of the Playbill patterns. They are 27 picas tall and are varnished pine plywood tacked to pine blocks. These patterns are one sided and some of the letters have been removed from their original backing and put onto “new” blocks. That was probably some time ago.These patterns seem to have been around for a long time and a few of the letters were recut somewhere along the line. Most of the square serifs are rounded from years of use. Here is a detail of the capital X. You can see where the counters are very worn especially in the thin channels between the serifs.The man that I purchased the patterns from had this to say about the entire collection. Max and Rube Mandel were the brothers who owned American Wood Type Mfg. Co.
(Tall) Type-Tales about the patterns
Max’s somewhat hazy recollection of the patterns is that Rube bought them from a Belgium fellow named Rotsart (or some such spelling) whom Max remembers as a scoundrel (why I don’t know(. He thinks that this guy was either acting on his own or may have been associated with a wood type company named Allied or Empire, Max recalls. It turns out to be Empire that Rube bought out in 1936 according to some additional research.
Anyway, Max’s story goes that the Scoundrel contended these old patterns were used to make wood type for the early Pioneers in Covered Wagons to print signs and posters on their way West. I’ll admit that that’s a stretch. The only thing I’m sure of though, is that most of them could be that old.
Here is a link to David Shield’s timeline that shows what is known about wood type companies in the United States.
Max’s somewhat hazy recollection of the patterns is that Rube