Dedicated to the legacy of Edward Stratemeyer, author & founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate

What the Font — Bright Days

Edward Stratemeyer’s first amateur printing in the mid-1870s attempted to replicate the larger story papers he read.  In the 1880s he returned to this field with a semi-professional story paper called Our American Boys that lasted for three issues at the beginning of 1883.

His first stories were published in story papers like Golden Days (James Elverson, Philadelphia), Argosy (Frank A. Munsey, New York), and Good News and New York Weekly (Street & Smith, New York).  On occasion he was an associate editor of some of these publications.

In 1896-1897 Stratemeyer had his own story paper called Bright Days that was issued monthly and later on a more frequent basis.  The story contained reprints or first-publications of several of his short stories and serial stories.

The typefaces used for the headings and story titles gave Bright Days a distinctive look.

The wide typeface used for many story titles and in some of the ads was called Unique Celtic and was designed for MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan Company of Philadelphia.  It was later distributed by the American Type Foundry, an amalgamation of several independent type foundries.


On many of the story titles and the ads there is a second narrower typeface that is used.  It is also used for the date and volume-issue information at the top of the cover.  This one was more elusive and a thanks must be extended to Sean O’Reilly of the Letterpress group on Facebook who provided a lead to specimen books by Palmer & Rey of San Francisco and Portland.

Several of these typefaces were used on the ads in the issue.

Another typeface used for headers is Rubens.  Visitors to the Haunted Mansion attractions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will recognize it as the main font used for the posters and signage.

The available computer fonts called either Rubens or Ravenscroft are close to the vintage design of the Rubens typeface but there are often small differences.  For example, Ravenscroft has the correct shape for the capital-M but the capital-W is merely an inversion of the shape rather than the shape of the original typeface design.

Most of the body text appears to be De Vinne, the same typeface used for older Nancy Drew books published by Grosset & Dunlap and discussed in this post.

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Keeline

James D. Keeline has been researching Edward Stratemeyer and the Stratemeyer Syndicate since 1988. He has written many dozens of articles and conference presentations on these topics and has several books in progress, including a Series Book Encyclopedia, a full biography of Edward Stratemeyer, and Stratemeyer Syndicate Ghostwriters. He has also edited and published several Stratemeyer texts in illustrated and annotated editions under the 24 Palmer Street Press imprint at Lulu.com.

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