Pete Smith has a question for E-Sylum readers. Can anyone help?
During the period of 1968 to 1971, I worked as a cartographer. That is a person who draws maps. For some maps the lettering was added with strips of tape that contained lettering. Some lettering was done with dry transfer lettering. Some were lettered by hand in ink.
The ink lettering was done with a template and a stylus that followed the form of letters in the template. Various typefaces were available in various sizes.
I have ordered awards that have engraved plates. I pick the style I want from printed samples of the available type faces. I believe that the engraving is then done by a tool that follows the letters in a template, much like the lettering that we did on maps. The text on a plate that I order in Minneapolis might appear identical to another produced by a similar machine anywhere in the country.
At the recent Central States show, I talked with Mike Bean, former plate engraver with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. He showed me an example of very small printing done from an engraved steel plate. I suspect that steel plate engravers used some type of similar guides.
I am not familiar with the history of such engraving. There may have been a time when letter engraving was done by hand with no guide. I suspect there was a period of time and transition between early guides to whatever system is used today. When did these changes occur?
I wonder if anyone has attempted a study of the engraving on coins, medals or love tokens. If it hasn't been done, perhaps somebody could write a book with examples of engraving that will identify the period when engraving was done and the method that was used.
Is there a way to tell if engraving was done free-hand or done with the assistance of a template? Can a style of lettering be used to date the item that is engraved? Can the style of lettering identify where or how the engraver was trained? Perhaps some reader of The E-Sylum can provide this information.
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
ON COMPARING HAND-ENGRAVING STYLES
LINCOLN CENT TYPOGRAPHY DESIGN HISTORY
Wayne Homren, Editor
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