Robert Wiebking

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Robert Wiebking around 1920

Robert Wiebking (born November 25, 1870 in Schwelm , Westphalia province , † June 25, 1927 in Illinois ) was an American type designer and engraver .


Robert came to Chicago in 1881 at the age of eleven with his father and siblings Adolf, John and Hedwig. His father, Hermann Wiebking, was a wood engraver and copperplate engraver. His father had been using an engraving machine since Robert was born. He created the first die from which the font was cut in 1882 for Marder, Luse & Company in Chicago, while Robert successfully engraved his first die in 1894. Robert secured a job as a basket weaver, but soon found a job at HC Hanson, where he worked as an engraver from 1884 to 1892.


In 1893 he started his own company after making connections with the Crescent Type Foundry and the Independent Type Foundry. From 1900 to 1914, in partnership with Henry H. Hardinge, operated the "Advance Type Foundry" font foundry. Hardinge had ten years of experience in the manufacture of precision tools for the watch industry. Together they developed a machine that worked with air pressure and did not have a single "cam". (US Patent 092674 of July 6, 1909) This automatic type-casting machine enabled Wiebking to cut 400 pound types from the matrices for Frederic Goudy's 14 point font "Kennerly" in a record time of 41 hours - without a test print. Hardinge left the company shortly afterwards.

The “Craftsman” font produced by Wiebking in 1912 - later renamed Artcraft - was used in the advertisement for “Advance Type Foundry”.

In 1914 the company was merged as the "Western Type Foundry of St. Louis and Chicago". The improved machines were transferred to the company's factory in St. Louis. When the latter was made a branch of "Barnhart Brothers & Spindler" in 1919, Wiebking worked as a freelance engraver.

He made dies for Frederic Goudy and for the companies Barnhart Brothers, American, Inland, and Keystone type foundries, as well as the Ludlow Typograph Company. He also worked for John Haddon and Company of London and Blake and Company of Sheffield. He was in a relationship with the Ludlow company all his life. She bought a machine and other equipment for him.

When Robert Hunter Middleton (1898–1985) was appointed type director at Ludlow in 1933, it was Wiebking (then in the 1950s) who was his mentor and taught both Robert Hunter Middleton and Frederic W. Goudy die cutting.

He died in Chicago at the age of 57.


In 1891 Robert Wiebking and Barbara Spahr married. They had three sons: Robert P. * July 24, 1892, William H. * 1895, and Frances C., who also all learned the profession of engraver.


Robert Wiebking invented the following fonts:

  • Artcraft - in italics and bold
  • Caslon Clearface - in italics and bold
  • Engravers' Litho - bold and condensed
  • Invitation text
  • Gothic family
  • The Munder Venerzian family
  • Caslon Catalog (or Caslon Antique)
  • Engraver's novel
  • (the last three were cast by the Western Type Foundry) with a series of Gothic steel plates (light, heavy, slightly compacted, heavily compacted, italic, outline, extra heavily shaded, slightly widened, and heavily widened spaces)

Wiebking matrices for other font designers:

  • • Centaur (Bruce Rogers)
  • • Pabst & Pabst Italic (ATF)
  • • Village type (FW Goudy)
  • • Boston News Letter type (Barron's)
  • • Norman capitals (NTA Munder)
  • • Kennerley & Italic (FW Goudy)
  • • Sherman (FF Sherman)
  • • Goudy Lanston (FW Goudy)
  • • Goudy Roman (FW Goudy)
  • • Klaxon (Lovell & McConnell)
  • • Hadriano (FW Goudy)
  • • Goudy Open (FW Goudy)
  • • Goudy Modern & Italic (FW Goudy)
  • • Old Style necklace (Procter & Collier)
  • • Nabisco (National Biscuit Co.)
  • • Goudy Newstyle (FW Goudy)
  • • Marlboro (FW Goudy)


  • Source: Robert Wiebking 1870-1927 in Spurius Press
  • NJ Werner: Wiebking Created Popular Faces in Chicago, Friend Discloses. In: “The Inland Printer” for November 1932

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Marder, Luse and Company (or: Chicago Type Foundry)
  2. HC Hanson ( Memento of the original from January 22nd, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. ^ Henry H. Hardinge
  4. ^ Hardinge's Typecaster and US Patents
  5. The Ludlow Typographer
  6. Robert Wiebking in identifont
  7. 7 font families by Robert Wiebking
  8. Robert Wiebking 1870-1927 in Spurius Press