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Fontz Meenz Biz

So, I should set this up... but this is going to sound a lot like an article on packs... and perhaps it can double for that! Either way, put up with it and I'll get to the "fonts" bit...

At the time of writing this, I am (mostly) at the mercy of public transport. This is okay, except once you're at an event, you now have your civilian gear to cope with... in my case, not just street clothes, but the enormous black duffel bag and gosh knows what else won't fit into my haversack (and often, what things I don't want to drag around in my haversack,) and tent space can be at a premium.  So, what to do?

Originally, and honestly still, I am looking for a wee sea chest... something small that could sit outside (be covered in the rain) that wouldn't look too out of place or anachronistic to passer's by... for those not in the know, think small blanket box. Something that could both stow stuff, travel relatively easily, and perhaps act even as a small bench to sit on.

Small Sea Chest 

Trouble is, I have yet to find one that's a good size and in my budget range... and before anyone peeps, I don't have my own workshop... yet...

ANYWAY, so what to do?

SUE TO THE RESCUE!

During a mass pre-Christmas clean-up, Sue found something I thought I'd long ago thrown away... I had two, one bigger than this one, and I know it met an untimely end, but none-the-less, this one popped back up...

It's a pack

To the trained eye, it's a Trotter pack (named after the company that made them in England). A rectangular backpack with more straps and stuff than one could shake a stick at, with an effective box inside. Like I said, I once had two of them, but one fell completely apart... and this one survived with just some leather work needed badly.

Either way, a Trotter pack, to my younger mind, was an essential to any good 1812 soldier thanks to them always being worn in and around the historic forts I'd visit.

CREDIT: WikiCommonsAbove: Really old photo of the Fort York Guard in Belgic Shakos and Trotter Packs - Not 1812ish at all! {Via Wikicommons}

I bought both of mine used (obviously one more than the other,) well over a decade ago and as I've covered in my "About Me" page, they sat dormant here at home patiently waiting for when I'd end up in the field...

...except, to most hard-core participant's standards in today's reenacting, they're not acceptable.

The "board/box" Trotter's packs were pretty much in wide distribution in 1812... well, starting in mid-1811... in England... with fresh troops only... not so much here... which means, in Upper Canada, you weren't very likely to run across one as the soldiers at the early part of the war would have worn a similar pack, but without the boards... basically, a leather envelope.

You can see an example of that type here: http://www.militaryheritage.com/knapsack.htm

...and here: http://pceleatherworks.webs.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=196804258

...so despite these being a ubiquitous part of a soldier's kit at the forts for many years, they might draw a gentle ire of the stitch counters in a camp... potentially rightfully so.

THIS SAID, however, who says I need to wear it?

The pack, as is, laying about the encampment even in view would not be an incredible pain in the anachronismeter for most, so it's a perfect fit and would do a lot of my needed job nicely! A functional prop, so to speak!

Now, this old pack belonged to someone previously, who obviously painted a crest or company/regimental thing on the centre-back. It's been covered up, but you can still kind-of see the outline... for me, it's bothersome... and also, I would actually like to make this new "prop" mine... so I want to regimentalise it for me!

No problem then, a lick of white paint with the appropriate number/letters and voila!

...except...

I have all the drawing skills of a jackhammer operator... on drugs... and loads of caffeine... while in a canoe... in choppy waters... while an Irish Wolf hound is trying to mate with his (or her) leg. (In short, I have always suffered from dysgraphia.)

So, a stencil is needed...

...but, (and here's the font part,) what font would one use for this task?

Being a complete nerd, and liking to back up choices with actual evidence and data, here's what I did...

I Googled samples of official British documents, stamps, and lettering on equipment.  I saved these items as images to my computer.

I removed any or all colour, straightened/positioned the letters in an image, then I uploaded them to two "Guess the Font" sites.

First was What's The Font... then I used Identifont.

These returned pretty much the same answers...

For almost all printed text, it was Baskerville...

Baskerville

...although for some of the numbering, they favoured mostly Modern No.20...

Modern No.20

...and occasionally, Bodoni Regular...

Bodoni

Oh, and for kicks, using Gen. Brocks appointment to George Ridout letter, I found that Edwardian Script is pretty damned close to the cleaner official handwriting of the day...

Edwardian Script

...which is handy because I also have a small pine box I will be toting that needed some dressing up of a more personal nature! (Not done yet, but now I have a plan!)

ANYWAY, after spending almost a full day of Photoshop, crop, adjust, copy, upload, check, reference, check, repeat... it was safe to say that the most LIKELY used font for official documents and stamps in Britain and Upper Canada was indeed, Baskerville! GOOD WORK ME! FULL DAY NOT WASTED!

Baskerville Winner!Yup, a whole day, but I was satisfied...

Then, while bragging about my accomplishments, I wanted to find out if Baskerville was available for free. (As a former web developer and graphics dude, I have tonnes of fonts installed that I bought over the years in packages and even more downloaded when available for free!)

Well, that whole day... could have been a few seconds on Wikipedia.

Oh well, it's nice to be proven right... and I supposed it COULD have been Mrs. Eaves font, but it isn't... the "below the line" lower case Gs and Js kinda lock it...

As for the Modern No.20 numbering?  That seems to be a thing... and the numbers MIGHT have been more or less freehand... or who knows... but indeed, it does seem to stand despite No.20 not exactly having the same lineage and history as Baskerville.

Choose Wisely

The lower font of the above image is Casablanca Antique under Baskerville... I only used it to make the point.

One of the smartest things I remember hearing from a props man at a movie set was how it annoyed him that historic films were set in "grungey grey stone buildings and weather-worn wood shelters"... because, of course, historically at the time the movies are set in, these places would be brand spanking new and not show such wear and tear.  The same, I would reckon, is true of fonts and writing... so don't "stain" paper to make it look old and use "antiqued" letters... because in a reenactment, it IS that time and although some wear might show, things we use and take to events would be new and shiny... or damned close to for the most part!

Maybe Soon!