Wood has been used in typography, letterforms, and illustrations since the first Chinese woodblock print from 868 CE. The wooden stamp was present as the forerunner of the block printing tradition. The Buddha was the first known image to be used on these stamps.
In Europe, letters were used in printing and were carved out of wood due to metal type having the issue of developing uneven surfaces and cracked as the heat cooled down after the process.
In America, Wood Type was also used as the logical material for typography as it was light, easily available, and known for possessing great printing qualities. The use of wood proceeded with the expansion of the commercial printing industry in America in the early years of the 19th century.
In 1827 Darius Wells invented a new way of producing letters in New York and published the first known wood type catalogue in 1828. Wood type was used for its many benefits against using metal. Wood type was half the cost of using metal and had the capability of being processed with a smooth finish and even surface.
William Leavenworth made a large contribution to the wood type industry with the creation of the pantograph in the manufacturing process of printing in 1834. The pantograph was adapted to the wells router and created a basic machinery piece which was required for making wood type on a larger and more productive scale.
Although wood type is not used in any professional large business format in today’s world, wood is still used for many advanced and skilled ways of creating beautiful pieces of art and as a hobby in woodworking. Wood is a widely used material for artistic purposes in typography and creating inlays of different exotic wood types with joinery and luthiers.
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