With over 80 typefaces in more than 300 different sizes in his portfolio, Hermann Ihlenburg is perhaps the most prolific, underrated and rarely credited type designer and punch cutter in all of type history.
Born in Berlin in 1843, Ihlenburg showed interest in drawing and engraving early on in his childhood. But upon turning fourteen, he joined the Trowitzsch & Son (Berlin) type foundry as an apprentice. Shortly after serving his apprenticeship, he moved to Dresden to work as a seal engraver, then to Prague, where he worked as punch cutter for the G. Haase foundry (later Stock Company). A year later, he took temporary positions with three different foundries: the Flinsch foundry in Frankfurt, the Battenburg foundry (later Gustav Majeur) in Paris, and the Basle foundry in Berlin.
In 1866, Ihlenburg moved to Philadelphia to work for the L. Johnson & Co. foundry (later MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan Co.) where he would spend more than 30 years designing type and cutting punches. He cut more than 32,000 punches throughout his career. With his penchant for artistic flair in his designs, he also began a large revival of interest in border ornaments with his Drapery Borders, after which he designed over 30 ornament and border faces.
American Typefounders acquired MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan Co. in 1901. Hermann Ihlenburg continued working for ATF in Philadelphia, and designed 11 faces for them before his death in 1905.