80+ Free Wood Type Alphabets

Melody Weister By Melody Weister  |  Oct. 30, 2013

An absolute must-have for any typography buff, these wood type alphabets, available as a Flickr photoset from Patricia M, make up one of the most visually stunning collections of wood type currently available.

Each of these 84 unique alphabets has been scanned in by hand and is available as a high-resolution image under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Whether you choose to download and adapt them to your specific needs, or simply appreciate their historical value, you can’t go wrong by adding these images to your collection.


Wood type alphabets, used in letterpress printing in the 19th century, were originally developed as a cheaper alternative to metal type alphabets, because they cost manufacturers approximately half as much to produce. It was also preferable to metal type because of the tendency of large metal letters to develop uneven surfaces or crack as they were being cooled.


Though the most famous example of wood type are of course, the ‘Wanted’ posters of the 19th century that are highlighted in practically every Western film ever made, wood type alphabets were used for nearly every kind of printing done at that time.

Whether it was the sale of horses or land, political rallies, booklets, packaging or circus posters—wood type helped express the message of that day. — Historical Society board member Jim Van Lanen, via the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum website

This collection makes a beautiful visual display of the wide variety of wood type alphabets that existed during the years of letterpress printing.



What do you think of wood type alphabets? Have exciting plans for these images? Let us know in the comments.