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Typographic Liberty Bell

April 2024
1min read


On the last page of our April, 1974, issue we ran the Declaration of Independence set in type in the shape of the Liberty Bell, which we came across in an 1876 issue of The Illustrated Christian Weekly . Since this estimable publication is no longer in business, we were not able to pursue our typographic curiosity any further. However, W. J. Hildebrandt, a student of printing history and proprietor of the Cellar Press in West Simsbury, Connecticut, was able to tell us of the genesis of this electrifying example of the typesetter’s art: This typographic gem was not originated by The Illustrated Christian Weekly but was a stock electrotype offered by one of our great type foundries, MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan of Sansom Street, Philadelphia. This piece was set by hand in “Brilliant” or four-point type by their skillful compositors and then electrotyped for quantity distribution. According to MacKellar’s literature, Typographic Advertiser , this matter would be equivalent to three and a half pages duodecimo (5 x 7¾ inches) set in solid six-point type. They said of their creation, “It will not ring, dear reader, but if your eyes are good enough, it will through them reach your heart and enable you to rejoice anew over its unique and undying verities.”

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