Created for the monument industry for sandblast work, this alphabet has typically and correctly most often been used on monuments designed in a gothic style. The alphabet saw most of its usage from the mid 1930s until the 1950s while the gothic style was more commonplace than it is today. It has, however, always seen some usage due to its digitization in various monument software including Monu-Cad and Cochran’s Monumental Designer.
The designer has not been confirmed, but it is likely that the letters were drawn by memorial draftsman Timothy Jellow, one of the two original partners of the Spacerite Company, and the original patent holder for the Spacerite spacing system.
The Spacerite Old English alphabet was one of the first 4 monument fonts created by the Spacerite Company. The exact date of creation is unknown, but it was between 1927 and 1935. The name “Old English” is actually a misnomer, as there is nothing specifically english about the styles origins, but was used all over Western Europe. The correct term for the style of lettering is “blackletter”, which was often used for manuscripts with a broad nib pen using only two main angles–one around 45° and another entirely vertical for thin downstrokes on the capital letters and other small features.
The form of the letters in this alphabet are of a typical traditional blackletter style, which can be seen in many vintage lettering books. The numerals however, are quite unique, abandoning the more ridged vertical strokes typically kept by blackletter alphabets and adopting a more organic feel. The numerals are also smaller than the capital letters, about 85% of the cap-height.
The original metal alphabet contained no punctuation or dashes, though it is unknown if the Spacerite Company ever produced any. The MLC created punctional, dashes, and an ampersand for the font based on memorials found in the cemetery where the alphabet was used. An alternate ampersand is included in the font, which was created by vertically flipping and enlarging the ‘3’ and adding a small horizontal stroke. The MLC also included alternate versions of the numbers ‘1’, ‘6’, and ‘9’; which were sometimes flipped upside down, dropping them below the baseline due to the non-centered alignment on the metal plates. These alternates and dash ligatures have been included by the MLC as OpenType features when using software which supports them.