|Founder(s)||William Garnett, John Stephenson, James Blake|
Stephenson Blake is an engineering company based in Sheffield. The company was active from the early 19th century as a type founder, remaining until the 1990s as the last active type foundry in Britain, after which it has diversified into specialist engineering.
The type foundry began operations in July 1818 by silversmith and mechanic William Garnett and toolmaker John Stephenson, financially supported by James Blake. That November, news came that the breakaway Caslon foundry (formed when William Caslon III left the original Caslon foundry in 1792) was put up for sale by William Caslon IV. In 1819 the deal was concluded and Blake, Garnett & Co. were suddenly in charge of one of England’s most prestigious typefoundries. In 1829 Garnett left to become a farmer. The company was renamed Blake & Stephenson in 1830, but Blake died soon after. It became Stephenson, Blake & Co. in 1841. John Stephenson died in 1864, the year after he handed control to his son Henry. By the early 1900s the foundry had ventured into steel making and tool production, which would prove to be the core business of the current firm.
Mergers and acquisitions
- Fann Street Foundry (1906)
- Fry’s Type Street Letter Foundry
- H.W. Caslon & Sons (1937)
- Miller & Richard (1952)
While the foundry was still producing some type in zinc as late as 2001, the foundry had shut down by 2005 when the matrices and other typographic equipment, by then of little commercial value (but of great historical value), were passed to Monotype, becoming a key part of the Type Museum, London. There are plans to turn the former premises into an apartment complex.
The foundry types produced by Stephenson Blake fall into three categories: those designed in-house, those designed by firms subsequently merged into Stephenson Blake, and those designs licensed from other foundries.
- Algerian (1908)
- Athenian (1889, William Kirkwood)
- Antique Nos. 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 (1904, William Kirkwood)
- Arabian (1904)
- Britannic (1906), derived from Rothbury.
- Chatsworth (1921)
- Chisel (1935, Robert Harling), also sold by Enschedé as Bavo.
- Consort (1956), a re-issue of the original Clarendon, with new weights added.
- Coronation (1937), a knock-off of Corvinus.
- Dominus (1925), also known as Clearface Open and Handtooled
- Elongated Roman (1955), a revival of a nineteenth-century face.
- Ganton (1927)
- June (1927)
- Keyboard (1951, Robert Harling)
- Kingston (1924)
- Playbill (1938, Robert Harling), an updating of a nineteenth-century French Clarendon face.
- Windsor (1905, Elisha Pechey), punches by William Kirkwood.
Designs of predecessor corporations
- Alexandra (SB 1911), from matrices acquired from the Reed Foundry.
- Ancient Black (1582, SB 1904) from original matrices acquired by the Reed Foundry. Originally English No. 2 from the stock of Wolf, a London printer, passed to John James Foundry, then to Fry.
- Baskerville (1795, SB 1906, Isaac Morre) from original matrices acquired by the Reed Foundry from the Fry Foundry.
- Clarendon (1845), cast by R. Besley & Co. (Fann Street Foundry), subsequently re-issued as Consort.
- Doric 12 (1816, SB 1870), originally cast by the Caslon foundry.
- Fry's Canon (1808, Fry Foundry), privately case for use by Kynoch Press and Curwen Press.
- Fry's Ornamented (1796, SB 1907, Richard Austin), from matrices acquired by the Reed Foundry from the Fry Foundry.
- Georgian (c. 1790, SB 1909), perhaps from matrices acquired from the Fry Foundry.
- Abbey Text (SB 1919), a knock-off of Bradley Text by A.D. Farmer & Son.
- Adonis (1961, André Cretton), originally produced for photocomposition by the Amsterdam Type foundry.
- Albion (1910, SB 1919), originally made for machine composition by Lanston Monotype.
- Amanda (1939), also known as Amanda Ronde, an outside design originally known as Undine Ronde.
- Antique Old Style No. 2 (SB 1869), purchased from Aubert Freres, Paris.
- Art and Craft, perhaps Robert Wiebking's Artcraft?
- Bologna (1946), originally cast by ATF.
- Doric 1 Italic (1892, John Hambury), from a foundry in Hamburg, Germany.
- Doric 12 (1816), originally cast by Caslon foundry
- Egyptian Expanded (1950), originally cast by the Miller & Richardson Foundry
- Goudy Modern (1918, SB 1929, Frederic Goudy), originally made for machine composition by Lanston Monotype.
- Klang (1955, Will Carter), originally made for machine composition by Monotype, SB later added a bold.
- Madonna Ronde (1925, Lucian Bernhard) a re-casting of Bauer's Bernhard Cursive.
- Mazarin (1921, Robert Girard), a re-casting of Deberny & Peignot's Astree
- Mercury Script (1936, SB 1950, Erich Mollowitz), acquired from Stevens, Shanks, originally cast by Trennert as Rheingold. Also copied by Weber Typefoundry as Forelle.
- Spartan, a knock-off of Copperplate Gothic, originally cast by Western Type Foundry.
Stephenson & Blake is now a company which specializes in High Frequency Welding brass electrodes and CNC machining for all types of brass welding/cutting dies and has a huge collection of samples and products which are machined to order.
Their in-house machining/engineering department make tooling for any kind of plastic welding, and because of the CNC machining department, can make extraordinary dies which are impossible to make out of tooling rule.
In December 2007, Stephenson & Blake acquired Nu-Gauge engineering, who are a major manufacturer to the glass gauge industry in the United Kingdom. Nu-Gauge engineering has been merged to within Stephenson & Blake, and will make any type of gauge to order with extremely tight tolerances.
In December 2009, Stephenson & Blake acquired the steel rule tooling business from DR Tooling Ltd; They now design and manufacture steel cutting tools alongside their High Frequency Welding tools.
In 2010 Stephenson & Blake acquired the Brass Welding/High Frequency Welding rule business from Caslon. Stephenson & Blake now manufacture the whole of Caslon's High Frequency Welding Rule range alongside their own inventory.
- List based upon the following sources: • Jaspert, W. Pincus, W. Turner Berry and A.F. Johnson. The Encyclopedia of Type Faces. Blandford Press Lts.: 1953, 1983, ISBN 0-7137-1347-X. • Millingoton, Roy Stephenson Blake: The Last of the Old English Typefounders Oak Knoll Press, New Castle Delaware, 2002, ISBN 1-58456-086-X.
- The Penrose Annual, Vol. 56 (1962), p19
- Possibly both Jaspert and Millingoton have this face confused with Bernhar's Bernhard Cursive which was also sold by SB as Madonna Ronde.