Visit the world’s largest collection of type, tour the type making equipment, take part in a class or event. Print from the museum’s vast collection. View the gallery’s current exhibit. Learn about typography and the rich history of American printing.
J. Edward Hamilton founded the original Hamilton factory, called J.E. Hamilton Holly Wood Type Company, in 1880, and within 20 years became the largest manufacturer of wood type in the United States. Hamilton's rapid growth is reflected in the ledgers and journals in the museum's collection dating back to 1880.
Wood has been used for letterforms and illustrations dating back to the first known Chinese wood block print from 868 CE. In Europe, large letters used in printing were carved out of wood because large metal type had a tendency to develop uneven surfaces, or crack, as it cooled. In America, with the expansion of the commercial printing industry in the first years of the 19th century, it was inevitable that someone would perfect a process for cheaply producing the large letters so in demand for broadsides. Wood was the logical material because of its lightness, availability, and known printing qualities.
Overview from museum website