Goudy, Frederic W. (Frederic William), 1865-1947

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1865-03-08
Death 1947-05-11
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Frederic William Goudy was an American type designer. After a career in real estate, he began his career as a type designer at 40 and created over 120 type styles including University of California Oldstyle, exclusively for the University of California Press, and Goudy Old Style. Goudy founded the Village Press with Will H. Ransom and was the Art Director for the Lanston Monotype Machine Company from 1920 until his death in 1947.

From the description of Frederic W. Goudy collection, 1925-1971. (University of California, Los Angeles). WorldCat record id: 505860987

Frederic Goudy was one of the foremost American type designers; his fonts include Copperplate Gothic, Kennerley, and Goudy Old Style. The Typophiles is a not-for-profit educational association that encourages the appreciation and production of fine typography and bookmaking.

From the description of The Typophiles : their book, 1934-1942. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 234362048

Frederic W. Goudy, world renowned type designer, was born March 8, 1865, in Bloomington, Illinois.

From the description of Frederic W. Goudy collection, 1922-1969 (bulk 1930-1950). (University of Delaware Library). WorldCat record id: 657754319

Frederic William Goudy is celebrated as one of the finest and most prolific type designers in history. In 1905, Goudy established his first press, which he moved to New York City the next year. His wife, Bertha M. Sprinks Goudy, acted as typesetter. Kennerley, Deepdene, Garamont, and Forum are a few of his more than 100 typefaces. About seventy-five of his designs were destroyed when his plant burned down in 1939.

From the description of The craft of the printer : manuscript, [1900-1947?] (Princeton University Library). WorldCat record id: 213343274

Printer, type designer and typefounder.

From the description of Frederic W. Goudy typographical collection, 1915-1938. (Scottsdale Public Library). WorldCat record id: 28127325

From the description of Letters : Marlborough, N.Y., to Mary Alexander, Chicago, Ill., 1942 July 30-1943 Dec. 10. (Newberry Library). WorldCat record id: 36107435

From the description of Original drawing for an unnamed type design, designated no. 31A, [1917]. (Newberry Library). WorldCat record id: 38016161

American type designer and graphic designer.

From the description of Frederic Goudy collection, 1933-1978. (Mclean County Historical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 276876248

Frederic W. Goudy, world renowned type designer, was born March 8, 1865, in Bloomington, Illinois.

Raised in the small prairie town of Shelbyville, Illinois, in his youth Goudy worked as the high school janitor and as an assistant to Shelbyville’s leading paperhanger. During this time, guided by an old worn copy of a Bruce Foundry specimen book, Goudy cut his first type face from a roll of flowered wall paper.

Graduating from Shelbyville High School in 1883, Goudy became a bookkeeper. When his father was appointed Federal probate judge in Hyde County in the frontier territory of South Dakota, Goudy worked as a clerk and bookkeeper in his father’s real estate office. He continued bookkeeping after he moved to Minnesota in 1887 and later moved on to Chicago to work as a clerk in a bookstore. While examining the books he sold, he determined that they were not printed as well as they might be. He began to read every available book on typography and made visits to veteran printers for a hands-on education.

In 1895, with Lauren C. Hooper, a Chicago English instructor, Goudy established the Camelot Press and for a time printed a magazine called Chapbook. Due to financial difficulties, the magazine and the press lasted less than a year. Mr. Goudy resumed working as a bookkeeper, and in 1897 married a fellow bookkeeper, Miss Bertha M. Sprinks. Goudy continued in a variety of jobs, but on the side he designed and sold his first alphabet of letters to the Dickinson Type Foundry for $10, which proved to be a good investment since the type, known as Camelot, remains popular today. In 1903 Mr. Goudy acquired a partner, $300 in capital, 150 pounds of type, and he set up the Village Press in Park Ridge, Illinois. An essay by William Morris was the first book he printed. The press was moved a number of times, from Illinois to Hingham, Massachusetts, to New York City. Mrs. Goudy eventually took the partner’s place and learned to set type by hand. By the time of her death in 1935 she was an expert typesetter.

The Goudys faced continual financial difficulties even though Goudy won the bronze medal given at the St. Louis World’s Fair for book printing in 1904. Fire destroyed the Parker Building and the Village Press in 1908. The Village Press was rebuilt in Forest Hills, Queens, on Deepdene Road where it remained until 1924, when Goudy moved it to Marlboro, New York. While at Forest Hills, Goudy earned his world-wide reputation as a type designer. During this period he sold eight new type faces to the famous Caslon Foundry in England. He also designed two of his greatest types for Mitchell Kennerley: Kennerley and Forum Title. The increase in advertising during the early twentieth century provided much business for Goudy. He sold type faces to such firms as the National Biscuit Company and the Procter and Gamble Manufacturing Company. In 1920 Mr. Goudy became art director for the Lanston Monotype Company. After moving to Marlboro, the Village Press was established in an old mill built in 1790 near the waterfall of Jew’s Creek and his home, named Deepdene. Here the Goudy family, including their son, Frederic T. Goudy, worked in the manner of the artisan families of the sixteenth century.

A fire in 1939 completely destroyed the Village Press for a second time, with the incalculable loss of original designs of a number of type faces, among them, Medieval, Tory, Village Text, and Bertham. Goudy did not try to re-establish the press but did continue designing type faces. In 1940, on his seventy-fifth birthday, he was appointed a lecturer in type design at the school of journalism at Syracuse University. Goudy won a number of honors for his fine books, including the gold medal of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Friedsam gold medal of the Architectural League of New York, and the medal of honor of the Ulster-Irish Society of New York. Goudy was the author of a number of books, including: Elements of Lettering, The Alphabet, Capitals From the Trajan Column, and Typologia . Mr. Goudy was a member of the Grolier Club, Typophiles, and the Stowaways Club of New York.

MacKay, Milton. Glorifier of the Alphabet. Press of The Good Mountain, n.d. Reprinted from The New Yorker, January 14, 1933. Page Proofs for the New York Herald Tribune obituary. n.d. See Box 3, F25.

From the guide to the Frederic W. Goudy collection, 1922–1969, 1930–1950, (University of Delaware Library - Special Collections)

Biography

Frederic William Goudy was an American type designer. After a career in real estate, he began his career as a type designer at 40 and created over 120 type styles including University of California Oldstyle, exclusively for the University of California Press, and Goudy Old Style. Goudy founded the Village Press with Will H. Ransom and was the Art Director for the Lanston Monotype Machine Company from 1920 until his death in 1947.

From the guide to the Frederic W. Goudy Collection, 1925-1971, (University of California, Los Angeles. William Andrews Clark Memorial Library)

Printer, type designer, and typefounder Frederic W. Goudy (1865-1947) designed more than 100 alphabets of letters for printing types. His impact on American printing has been as an artist and a craftsman. Many of his typeface designs were created for such major firms as Lanston Monotype Machine Company, where Goudy served as art director from 1920 to 1940.

Goudy established the Camelot Press in Chicago in 1895 but soon sold out his share. In 1903 he set up the Village Press, a hand-craftsman’s enterprise, in his barn in Park Ridge, Illinois. Goudy settled the press in Marlborough, New York in 1923. His property, called Deepdene included a colonial house and an old mill that he made into the home of the Village Press and Village Letter Foundry.

From the guide to the Frederic W. Goudy Typographical Collection, 1915-1938, (Arizona State University Libraries Special Collections)

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Subjects:

  • Small presses--UnitedStates--20th century
  • Type and type-founding
  • Printing--History--20th century--Sources
  • Type designers--History--Sources
  • Type designers--20th century
  • Type designers
  • Type and type-founding--History--20th century
  • Printing--20th century
  • Type designers--Personal narratives
  • Printing
  • Small presses--20th century
  • Printers--History--Sources
  • Type designers--UnitedStates--20th century
  • Printers
  • Guest books
  • Typography--UnitedStates--20th century
  • Printing--History

Occupations:

  • Printer

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • McLean County (Ill.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • New York (State) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)