Typeface Index: Faegre's Cherokee Type

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Faegre's Cherokee Syllabary Type

1962. Cut by Walker Malowski at Triangle Type Foundry to a design by Torvald Faegre under the supervision of John K. White.

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John K. White, who was responsible for the creation of this type, describes its creation in this way:

"With encouragement and assistance from the editor of Current Anthropology [Sol Tax], by June of 1962 enough money had been accumulated through donations from Cherokees and a generous grant from the American Council of Learned Societies to pay for a new font of Cherokee Type. It was probably the fourth time in history - and the first time in nearly 100 years - that Cherokee type was cast. Using sketches and an Italic type face by Eric Gill as a model, Torvald Faegre, a student at Roosevelt University in Chicago, designed the type face. I had chosen an italic type face for 2 [sic, figure '2'] reasons: Cherokee handwriting is frequently written in a slanted fashion and compared with the style of the Cherokee type found in all the old books, it would indicate that a new start was being made.

"Using enlarged drawings prepared by the designer, the matrices were engraved by Walker [sic] Malowski of the Triangle Type Foundry, Chicago, who gave invaluable assistance in the form of technical advice and criticism based on his years of experience. I also appreciated his numerous personal favors, of a sort not often rendered in our highly competitive world."

(This text, and the specimen of the Cherokee Syllabary Type shown above, are both from White's article "On the Revival of Printing in the Cherokee Langauge" in Current Anthropology (see below), pp. 512-513.)

The cataloging material accompanying an example font of this type given to the Smithsonian by White (see below) indicates that a total casting of 16,000 pieces was proposed.

The dispositions of the matrices for this type, and of fonts cast (excepting the sample font given to the Smithsonian) are unknown. In 1971, White published a volume entitled Cherokee Hymns, and while I presume that he must have used this type for that volume I have not examined it and do not know for certain.

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White. "On the Revival..." (1962)

White, John K. "On the Revival of Printing in the Cherokee Language." Current Anthropology: A World Journal of the Science of Man. Vol. 3, No. 5 (December, 1962): 511-514. (Note: on the cover of the journal, the title is given as "On the Revival of Printing the Cherokee Language." The form adopted here ("... in the Cherokee Language") is that of the paper as it appears.) This is the paper in which White describes the creation of this type.

(See the fine print at the end of this page for an analysis of the copyright status of this work; it is my belief that it has lapsed into the public domain.)

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Specimen (full size scan)

The large image of the specimen above, from White's 1962 paper, links to a 2048 pixel wide JPEG version suitable for viewing online. In the interest of scholarship, the small icon at left here links to a full-resolution (1200dpi RGB) version of the scan saved losslessly as a PNG file (45 Megabytes, 5840 x 6256 pixels).

Below is a sample of the Faegre/White type, from White's paper. (It is translated in his paper.)

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This sample as presented above links to a 2048 pixel wide JPEG. Here is the full-resolution (1200dpi PNG) scan (44 Megabytes, 8720 x 3965 pixels): white-printing-cherokee-type-current-anthropology-v3n5-1962-12-1200rgb-513-sample.png

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Smithsonian "Block"

The Smithsonian Institution's online collection catalog lists an item, USNM No. 400096 (accession number 242882) which is a "block" of type for a Cherokee syllabary script. It is "a sample of the first proofs of a 16,000 piece font of a new type face for printing of Cherokee". Its dimensions are listed as "5.3 cmm. L." and "3.3 cm. W." The Smithsonian acquired this item in 1962-09-11, donated by John White.

The "Remarks" on this catalog card note: "Cost of whole job about $175.00" (which is remarkable indeed).

Note that this catalog entry gives the name of the engraver, Malowski, as "Walter" Malowski; in White's 1962 paper, he says "Walker."

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Thomas, William Joseph. "Creating Cherokee Print: Samuel Austin Worcester's Impact on the Syllabary." Media History Monograpphs. Vol. 10, No. 2 (2007-2008). Online at http://facstaff.elon.edu/dcopeland/mhm/mhmjour10-2.pdf. The Faegre Cherokee type is shown in p. 6, where its design is attributed, mistakenly, to John K. White. The specimen shown is identical to the one in White's article

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