Ever wonder what that marking on your wood vintage letterpress block means?  Hint…the markings can usually only be found on the letter A’s on any given set!


You might have just begun your interest in vintage letterpress or you may be on the other end of the spectrum- totally obsessed!  Either way, I think you’ll find this kinda interesting!

Do you have any letter A’s in your possession?  Go check them now- it’s where most wood letterpress sets (if not all) are marked IF they are marked.  Sadly, not all are marked.

You might see a marking carved into the side such as “Hamilton Two Rivers WI” or something more rare such as “DeLittle York” or “Vanderburgh Wells & Co”.  What does this marking tell you?



Hamilton is one of the most well known printing press establishments founded in 1880 by none other than J.E. Hamilton.

Wisconsin boasts a museum that you should definitely go visit if you ever find yourself in…where else…Two Rivers, Wisconsin.

The Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum is home to 1.5 million pieces of wood type and over 1000 sizes and pattern styles.  I like to think I have a nice collection myself, but their collection might be just a tad bit more robust than mine ;).

Did you know you can even tell how old your Hamilton font is by the marking?  Take a look at these photos to get an idea:

Five lines, top and bottom line curved. In use 1889–1891.

Above: Five lines, top and bottom line curved. In use 1889–1891.  Woodtyperesearch.com

Above: Two lines. Die-stamped, on shoulder. In use 1891–1906. Woodtyperesearch.com

Above: Two lines. In use 1891–1927.  Woodtyperesearch.com

Above: Three lines. In use 1927–1950s.  Woodtyperesearch.com



This type was made in York, England!  The company first called “The Eboracum Letter Factory​” and later renamed “Robert DeLittle Wood Printers Type Manufacturer​” was of course owned by Robert DeLittle.

If you find yourself lucky enough to own this type, it could be as old as 1888!  York type has been used all over the World, which explains why it can be found in the US (although I’ve only seen it personally, once).

The DeLittle company​ was the last wood type manufacturer in England and its content is now housed inside the Type Museum located in Stockwell, London.

Above: Grandson of Robert DeLittle making wood type on a router-pantograph. www.yorkpress.co.uk



Also very old, but not much history can be found on this type company that took on the stamp pictured below when it moved from Paterson to New York City in 1867 when the Paterson warehouse burned. 

The company was later bought by Heber Wells and then by Hamilton Manufacturing Co. of Two Rivers, Wisconsin​ when bankruptcy was filed in 1899.​  Recognize that name?

Above: In use 1867-1890.  Rustic Eye Collection.​​

Are you rushing to go see if you have one of these golden letter A’s in your possession?  I’m rooting for you!  Post below and let us know what you find!

-Traci XO

P.S. My personal Rustic Eye vintage letterpress collection for sale can be found by clicking here.

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