Cemetery Serifs


In honor of Halloween, I bring you a bone-chilling tale that takes place in a cemetery! My wife and I recently enjoyed an outing to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY. It is a beautiful, sprawling place full of flora and fauna, as well as peace and quiet, that’s sometimes hard to find in the city. A perfect place for a leisurely stroll on a morning off. While “hiking” through the many trails, finding hidden groves and glens, I found myself admiring the wide range of typefaces used on the headstones and mausoleums. While many appeared to be unique creations of the artisan who carved the stone with elaborate decorative flourishes and letter forms creatively altered to fit the available space, I did see a few that looked familiar. “I think I have that typeface in my library!”

Here are a few samples I was able to identify…


Some liberties were taken with this one: the wider “H”, the smaller counter in the “A”s, and the straightening of the “R”s leg.


This one is a bit of a stretch, but I couldn’t find a modern typeface with the right combination of the unique features. The straightened “R” leg, the smaller upper counter of the “B” and the longer bottom arm of the “E” makes this typeface quite unusual.


I was amazed to see this typeface among the seemingly ancient stones since I had only recently discovered it when it was retooled and released in 2004. It’s one of my current favorite sans-serifs.


Obviously, the “O” and “S” have been altered significantly, and the “N” has lost it’s pointy-ness, but the other letters are fairly spot on.

Here are a few that I was unable to ID…


It seems like it should be a proper typeface, but I looked high and low and couldn’t find it.


Identifying a Blackletter font is extremely difficult!


Carving directly into a boulder instead of a prepared stone undoubtedly makes this a one-of-kind.

So…maybe it was such a bone-chilling tale, but, being the typography nerd I am, I enjoying seeing the different typefaces all around the cemetery.

2 Responses to “Cemetery Serifs”

  1. Brandon

    Great finds! Though, likely all but maybe the Johnston are hand created and carved, based loosely on other lettering styles from old lettering books and monument industry journals. The Hammond is a variation of a style simply called “Round Raised” letters, and the ROHR a variation of a common style from the 1880’s through maybe the 1920’s called “Rustic”.

  2. kevin

    Good information. Thanks for letting us know! You know your way around monument lettering 🙂


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