• Steven Heller

The Daily Heller: An Ornament Named Bernice

My mom’s name was Bernice, and like this decorative border font she was often decked out in colorful baubles and balls. Now the Hamilton Wood Type’s Type Legacy Project and P22 Type Foundry have immortalized the name with HWT Bernice. The basic shapes were designed by Marian Bantjes as a contemporary application for the museum’s 150-year-old border stamping machine, which punches shapes into end-grain wood to form continuous patterns. The digital version expands a bit beyond the punch machine and allows designers to assemble a multitude of options using flipped and rotated variations of these six basic shape sets using simple keystrokes. Bantjes named her border design for the late retired type trimmer Bernice Schwahert, the first woman hired to work in the type shop of Hamilton Manufacturing. Schwahert began in 1962 and worked as a type trimmer until 1983. She’s not, however, the first female employee to have a legacy font named for her. Louise Fili drew upon her passion for Futurist typography to design the Mardell typeface, named after retired type cutter Mardell Doubek, who worked at Hamilton from 1968 until 1995, first as an upholsterer, and then a type cutter.

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