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American Type Founders

Indices : Foundries : American Type Founders

American typefounding agglomeration formed in 1892, eventually containing most of the American typefounding industry. In the 1890s, sorting through the libraries that were merged in and deciding what to keep and what to get rid of was handled by Joseph W. Phinney. ATF’s early success owed quite a bit to the technical genius of Linn Boyd Benton, inventor of the pantographic engraver. Ultimately, ATF owned the rights to one of the world’s greatest libraries of original typefaces, with many of the ATF-era designs created by Linn Boyd Benton’s son, Morris Fuller Benton.

Foundries that were incorporated into ATF include: Barnhart Brothers & Spindler (1911); Binny & Ronaldson (1892); Boston Type Foundry (1892); Bruce Type Foundry (1901); Central Type Foundry (1893); Dickinson Type Foundry (1892); Farmer, Little & Co. (1892); Inland Type Foundry (1912).

By the 1920s ATF was the dominant player in the world’s printing equipment market. Not just fonts, but entire printing plants were on offer. This strong position did not continue, due to the ever-changing nature of the printing industry. In 1934 ATF reorganized under bankruptcy protection, and never regained its former glory. The company failed to keep up in the phototype era, and failed completely in the digital era.

Kingsley, a manufacturer of imprinting and marking equipment, acquired ATF in 1986, and the type division became Kingsley/ATF Type Corporation. The foundry closed in 1993 with an ingnominious backruptcy auction. These days the only sign of ATF fonts is in licensing deals with experienced digital foundries such as Bitstream and Adobe.