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Razing Kane

Wednesday, March 24th, 1999 | 2 comments

As typographic legend has it: In 1900 Frederic W. Goudy was commissioned by W.W. Denslow to letter his edition of Mother Goose stories for the McClure, Phillips Co. of New York. (Denslow was the Illustrator of the original Wizard of Oz and also an occasional Roycroft illustrator.) The lettering that Goudy designed featured short ascenders and descenders, as well as a tall x-height. Shortly thereafter the Inland type foundry of St. Louis released a typeface that was a direct copy of Goudy's lettering.

Goudy seemed to be more offended that the font was named "Hearst" after the notorious newspaper mogul, than by the fact that they copied his designs. As Goudy had put it: "To my surprise, a little later on, the Inland Type foundry of St. Louis, without consultation with me, brought out a new type copied--not inspired--from my Denslow lettering, and added insult to injury by naming it "Hearst."

Goudy's reaction was create his own type face for release. The result of Goudy's attempt to outdo a copy of his design evolved into the "Pabst" type face. Created for the Pabst Brewing Company, this type design has some similarities to Hearst, but is clearly its own unique face. The ascenders are much taller than Hearst and the x-height is reduced. The distressed edging of the letters and the caps bear a similarity, but clearly these are two distinct faces. Five years later in 1907, Goudy's "Powell" face was created for the Mandel Brother department store in Chicago. This "Powell" face bears a closer similarity to "Hearst."

In tribute to this tale, we have digitized a version of Hearst and named it "Kane". Although not as epic as the Orson Wells adaptation, we like our Kane just fine.



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