December 16, 2002

Hansen Type Foundry


The H.C. Hansen Type Foundry was located in Boston and existed from 1872 until about 1922. Hansen was born in Norway in 1845, went through a mechanical schooling in Norway, Denmark, Germany and England, before arriving in Boston in 1868 to work for the Dickinson Type Foundry. He remained there until 1872, the date of the big Boston fire, when Dickinson and all other foundries of Boston were destroyed. Hansen worked very hard and his mechanical training and sharp mind allowed him to start a foundry by the end of 1872.

When the American Type Founders consolidation was organized in 1892, there were five type foundries in Boston, the Dickinson Type Founders, Boston Type Foundry, New England Type Foundry, Curtis & Mitchell Type Foundry, and the H. C. Hansen Type Foundry. The New England and Curtis & Mitchell foundries soon disappeared. The Dickinson and Boston foundries were absorbed by ATF. And that left just one independent foundry, H.C. Hansen. H.C. Hansen brought his two sons, L. A. and H. Alfred Hansen, into the business.

They published many catalogs and specimen books, the main one being "A book of types, borders, ornaments, brass rule, printing materials and the like for printerdom" (1909). Maurice Annenberg writes about it: "Their type catalog of 1909 is rated one of the best that has ever been produced, comparable to the American Type Founders Company and Barnhart Brothers & Spindler." Unfortunately, H.C. Hansen was dismantled around 1922.

Hansen OldStyle

The Hansen catalogs have most of the standard typefaces, and quite a few original faces. With a few exceptions, these faces are small modifications of existing typefaces. We will list a few of them on this page. The only face with their name explicitly attached to it is Hansen Oldstyle. Mac McGrew writes about this: "Hansen Old Style No. 30 was basically the same as Jenson, but had pointed serifs instead of square ones. The roman appeared early in the century, the italic about 1909. Hansen Old Style No. 40 is a duplicate of Jenson." Some samples of that family are shown here.

Hansen Old Style.

Hansen Old Style.

Hansen Old Style Initials.


Buffalo has wood type influences. Citing Mac McGrew: "Buffalo was the Hansen Type Foundry's answer to such popular boldface types with irregular edges as Blanchard, Post, and Roycroft, introduced in 1902 or earlier, including an Outline version. Buffalo Italic was shown in 1903; it is quite similar to Blanchard Italic, especially in the lowercase. The specimen shows an apparent duplicate cast by Kelsey when that supplier had its own typefoundry."

Buffalo Italic. McGrew writes: "Buffalo Italic was shown in 1903; it is quite similar to Blanchard Italic, especially in the lowercase. The specimen shows an apparent duplicate cast by Kelsey when that supplier had its own typefoundry."

Buffalo Condensed.

Buffalo Outline.

Poster Buffalo

Boston Gothic

Boston Gothic. McGrew writes: "Boston Gothic is an inline version of Medium Gothic No.7, which was produced by Hansen in 1903 or earlier as a copy of Mid-Gothic. The solid form is reasonably good in a commonplace sort of way but the inline is awkward in places."

Boston Italic. According to McGrew, Boston Italic is an inline version, produced by Hansen in 1909, of Gothic Italic, which Hansen copied earlier from Doric Italic.

Boston Gothic in action.


McGrew writes: "Cambridge was Hansen Type Foundry's copy of Windsor Condensed, drawn early in the century by Elisha Pechey for the Stephenson, Blake foundry in England."

McGrew's comments on New Cambridge: "New Cambridge, cut in 1909, was an inline version of the same face, apparently originated by Hansen. Some other versions of Windsor are shown under Popular Imports in the Appendix."


McGrew writes: "Congress is a fancy face shown by Hansen in 1909 or earlier. It was sold as fonts of initials, caps only, for which it seems more suited, or as complete fonts with lowercase, figures and points."

In 2007, a digital version of Congress was crafted by Nick Curtis: Filibuster NF (2007).

Copperplate Roman

An interesting case, this Copperplate Roman. It is very different from any other Copperplate Roman, and is a true Hansen original.

Fourteenth Century

Fourteenth Century is a one-weight typeface produced around 1909.


Hampton (ca. 1908) is similar to John Hancock but it has pointed instead of square serifs.


Heading and Heading Outline.


Hunnewell was produced by Hansen Type Foundry in 1907 or earlier. According to McGrew, it is very similar to Cushing No.2, but the roman lowercase is a little narrower.

Lafayette Text

McGrew writes: "Lafayette Text was shown by Hansen in 1908. It is very similar to Engravers Old English, differing most noticeably in the fine vertical line that drops below the base line in some of the capitals. Engravers Old English is a plain, sturdy rendition of the Blackletter style, commonly known as Old English. It was designed in 1901 by Morris Benton and another person identified by A TF only as Cowan, but has also been ascribed to Joseph W. Phinney. It is a modernization of Caslon Text, and has been widely used. Engravers Old English Open was produced by ATF in 1902. Sidney Gaunt designed Engravers Old Black, very similar to Engravers Old English, for BB&S in 1910, but BB&S later produced Engravers English, a copy of Engravers Old English. It has also been copied by Intertype, and by Ludlow as Old English. Hansen's Lafayette Text (q.v.) was very similar. Engravers Old English Bold was designed by Morris Benton for ATF in 1910. The unfamiliar characters of Old English types are often misused, and the alternate forms of some letters add to the confusion. I and J are particularly subject to mix-up, because they were originally the same letter, and never developed as definite a distinction in these styles as in roman letters. In Ludlow Old English, cap I is comparable to the one in the Bold weight, but this style has not been found elsewhere in the regular weight. Curiously, in the Engravers Old English Bold specimen shown [in McGrew's book], the letters appear as the Monotype copy presents them; however, Monotype's I and J are respectively the second and first forms of I as originally designed, while the specimen here [in McGrew's book] shows separately the original foundry J, which Monotype does not make, along with the alternate H. Compare Wedding Text, a similar design in lighter weight; also Cloister Black; Shaw Text; Lafayette Text."


According to McGrew agin: "Masterman was put on Monotype in 1909, but it originated with Hansen some time before that. It is a modification of earlier faces known generally as Title before type names as we know them became common, and is similar to some of the faces in the Engravers and Litho families (q. v.). The characters have high contrast, and lowercase has fairly long ascenders. The basic character is a plain, severe roman shape. It was popular as an early advertising display face.


This seems to be a Hansen original.

Stratford Old Style

Stratford Old Style is Hansen's version of the Old Style Antique face which was the predecessor of Bookman, but has different swash characters from other versions. McGrew writes: "Bookman Old Style has become a lastingly popular "workhorse" design for plain, easy-to-read text, and to some extent for display as well. It is derived from an oldstyle antique face designed by A. C. Phemister about 1860 for the Scottish foundry of Miller & Richard, by thickening the strokes of an oldstyle series. This face was copied by Bruce Type Foundry in this country as Antique No. 310, by MacKellar, Keystone and others as Oldstyle Antique (q.v.), and by Hansen as Stratford Old Style (q.v.). In 1901 Bruce brought out Bartlet Oldstyle, based on the small sizes of their older face, refitted and otherwIse Improved. In that year Bruce was taken over by ATF, which thought well of Bartlett but changed the name to Bookman Oldstyle; it was cast at the Bruce foundry under both names until the plants were actually combined in 1906."

Stratford Old Style in action.


McGrew mentions that Tokio was copied as Romantic by the Universal Typefoundry in Hong Kong. The specimen shown here is Romantic.

University Old Style

McGrew: "University Old Style was issued by Hansen in the early to mid-1910s. It is very similar to ATF's Century Oldstyle, differing most apparently in the serif treatments of CEFG and details of ags in the roman and CGg in the italic."

Vertical Script

McGrew: "Vertical Script is a simple-almost childish-monotone upright script design, produced by Hansen in 1897. Although letters connect, they are widely spaced. The Boston foundry of ATF introduced a similar Vertical Writing, shown in 1897 and patented in 1898 by Joseph W. Phinney. Both are oversize for the body, with kerned descenders."

Victoria Italic

McGrew writes: "Victoria Italic is a nineteenth-century design that retained its popularity for many years, and has been made under several names by a number sources. ATF's Central Type Foundry branch showed it as early as 1893, in usual form without lowercase, but with several sizes on each of several bodies in the manner of Copperplate Gothic. In 1898 the Pacific States Type Foundry in San Francisco showed the face with lowercase as Pacific Victoria Italic, and about the same time ATF showed Regal Italic with essentially the same lowercase. Victoria Italic without lowercase has also been shown by Keystone and Hansen, as well as Monotype and Ludlow. It is a wide, monotone design with thin, pointed serifs, and was popular for a time for business forms and stationery as well as general printing. Compare Paragon Plate talic. Keystone also had Keystone Victoria, a similar upright design, without lowercase."


McGrew: "Viking was cut by John F. Cumming for Hansen in 1899. It is a medium-weight roman in a popular style of the day, with filleted curves within the letters where strokes meet. Compare Mission."


Obvious copies

Among the faces that Mac McGrew calls blatant copies, he cites:

  • Graphic Arts (which is Artcraft, a face by Robert Wiebking, 1912).
  • Gothic Italic (which is Doric Italic, ATF, 1890s).
  • Card Gothic No. 2 (which is Blair, an Inland Type Foundry face from 1900).
  • Beacon (which copies most characters, but not all, from Forum).
  • Extended Lining Gothic (which is Philadelphia Lining Gothic No. 14 designed by McKellar, Smiths and Jordan).
  • Puritan: according to McGrew, Adcraft Medium was formerly known as Rugged Medium or Alfred [Medium]. It was originated by Inland Type Foundry and patented by William A. Schraubstadter in 1910. Adcraft Lightface originated with Western Type Foundry in 1911 as Carlton and was taken over by BB&S as Rugged Lightface. It was also made under the name Puritan by Hansen.
  • Plate Roman (this is Brandon, a title face similar to Engravers Roman, designed by Nicholas J. Werner and introduced by Inland Type Foundry in 1898).
  • Winchendon (which is BB&S's Clarendon No. 51).
  • Medium Gothic No.7 (which is Mid-Gothic, designed by Nicholas J. Werner for Central Type Foundry, probably just before that St. Louis foundry joined the merger that formed American Type Founders in 1892, according to McGrew). The inline version is Hansen's Boston Gothic.
  • Crawford (which is a lookalike of MacFarland, which in turn was cut in 1899 by Inland Type Foundry, adapted from Romische Antiqua of Genzsch & Heyse in Germany).
  • Title Condensed No. 75 (which is basically a copy of BB&S's Modern Roman Bold Condensed).

Copyright © 2002 Luc Devroye
School of Computer Science
McGill University
Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6