The Fann Street Foundry was a type foundry (a company that designs or distributes typefaces) that was located on Fann Street, City of London.

Charles Reed's office at 33 Aldersgate Street



In 1794, Robert Thorne (1754-1820) acquired the type foundry of the late Thomas Cottrell based in Nevil's Court, and moved it to 11 Barbican, and then in 1802 to a former brewery in Fann Street, and renamed it the Fann Street Foundry. On his death in 1820, the business was bought by William Thorowgood with the help of money he had won in a lottery.[1][2] Thorowgood was the first to use the term "Grotesque" to describe a Sans-Serif typeface and the first to design one in lower case with his Seven Line Grotesque.[3]

Nineteenth-century heyday


In 1838, the typographer Robert Besley was taken into partnership by William Thorowgood at the Fann Street Foundry.[1] He created Clarendon in 1845, the first typeface to be registered under the Ornamental Designs Act of 1842, and retired from the business in 1861, becoming Lord Mayor of London in 1869.[4][2][5]

In 1842, Charles Reed co-founded the firm of Tyler & Reed, printers and typefounders. He became a partner in the Fann Street Foundry in 1861 (which thereafter became known as Reed & Fox). The Fann Street business formed the basis for his own typefounding business, Sir Charles Reed & Sons, which had an office at 33 Aldersgate Street.[6][7]

In 1881, following his father's death, the author and typefounder, Talbot Baines Reed became head of the Fann Street Foundry.[8] By then he had begun his monumental History of the Old English Letter Foundries, published in 1887, which was hailed as the standard work on the subject. Talbot Baines Reed died in 1893, aged only 41.[9]




Fann Street Foundry closed in 1906, after which its designs passed to the Sheffield-based Stephenson Blake.[10] Founded in 1818, Stephenson Blake was the last active type foundry in the UK at the time of its closure in 2005.[11]


  1. ^ a b Macmillan, Neil. (2006). An A–Z of type designers. New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 171–2. ISBN 9780300111514.
  2. ^ a b Lawson, Alexander S. (1990). Anatomy of a Typeface. Jaffrey, New Hampshire: David R. Godine. p. 314. ISBN 978-0-87923-333-4.
  3. ^ The First Sans Serif Graphic Design History, 2011. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  4. ^ Anthony Camp, On the city's edge: a history of Fann Street (2016) 24-31.
  5. ^ besley & copp's Lord Mayor of London Archived 2014-07-25 at the Wayback Machine Besley & Copp Print Solutions, 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  6. ^ Thomas Cottrell, later Fann Street Foundry, 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  7. ^ G.C. Boase, "Reed, Sir Charles (1819–1881)", rev. M.C. Curthoys, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. Retrieved 17 July 2014. (subscription required)
  8. ^ Talbot Baines Reed On Snot and Fonts, Luc Devroye, 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  9. ^ Jeffrey Richards, "Reed, Talbot Baines (1852–1893)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. Retrieved 17 July 2014. (subscription required)
  10. ^ "Fann Street Foundry". My Fonts. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  11. ^ Stephenson, Blake British Letterpress. Retrieved 17 July 2014.

Further reading


51°31′19″N 0°05′49″W / 51.522°N 0.0969°W / 51.522; -0.0969