TYPE DESIGN INFORMATION PAGE last updated on Thu Nov 23 13:29:00 EST 2023






William Hugh Gordon

Together with Ross F. George, William Hugh Gordon invented the Speedball pens in 1914, the first of which was patented in 1916. Born in Canada in the 1860s of Scottish parents, he emigrated to the United States in the 1870s and lived in Colorado Springs, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle. He died in 1920.

To promote the pens, Gordon and George published an instructional book, Presenting the Speedball Pen with alphabets, drawings and designs produced with this wizard of lettercraft (1915).

Author of Lettering for Commercial Purposes, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1918 [Open Library link; local download]. He liked full round ovals, condensed vertical elements and a slightly broken alignment. He was one of the main American designers of commercial lettering during the early part of the 20th century. His students included Ross F. George. PDF of that book.

Digital typefaces based on his alphabets include Penina (2021, Mario Feliciano: a multi-contrast single weight delicate serif), Pen Elegant JNL (2018, by Jeff Levine; after an alphabet from a 1918 lettering instruction book by Gordon), Cowling Sans AOE (2017, Astigmatic), Gordoni (2016, James Greenwood), WHG Simpatico NF (2002, Nick Curtis), and Minstrel Poster NF (2002, Nick Curtis).

Additional link, where we find his Black Face Poster alphabet from 1918. Biographical research by Alex Jay.

William Hugh Gordon
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History of type ⦿ Books on type design ⦿ Type scene in Ohio ⦿ The Canadian type scene ⦿ Jeff Levine's typefaces. ⦿

file name: Jeff Levine Pen Elegant J N L 2018

file name: William Hugh Gordon Black Face Poster 1918

file name: Ross George W H Gordon Presenting The Speedball Pen Cover 1915

file name: Ross George W H Gordon Presenting The Speedball Pen Page33 1915

file name: Ross George W H Gordon Lettering Pen Patent1172785 1916

file name: Nick Curtis Minstrel Poster

file name: Nick Curtis W H G Simpatico N F 2002

file name: James Greenwood Gordoni 2016

file name: W H Gordon The Speedball Pen 1915

Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html