Born in Schweim, Germany in 1870, Robert Wiebking was the oldest son of Herman Wiebking, an engraver. In 1881 the family moved to Chicago, USA. Robert started work as a basket weaver, but in 1884, aged 14, he went to work for C. H. Hanson, an engraving company. By 1893, he was running his own engraving business, cutting matrices for the Crescent and Independent Type foundries.
In 1900, together with H. H. Hardinge he formed the Advance Type Foundry. Hardinge succeeded in making the manufacturing process more efficient, enabling Weibking to cut the matrices for the 14 point version of Goudy's Kennerly in record time. Hardinge left the partnership soon after.Wiebking's 1912 typeface, Craftsman (later renamed Artcraft), featured in an advertisement for Advance Type. In 1914, Advance Type merged with the Western Type Foundry. Five years later, it merged again, this time with Barnhart Brothers & Spindler.
Wiebking went independent again, cutting matrices for Goudy as well as Barnhart, Keystone Type, and Ludlow. He was to continue to be associated with Ludlow throughout his life. When Robert Hunter Middleton joined Ludlow, it was Wiebking (then in his 50s) who mentored him, and he taught both Robert Hunter Middleton and Frederic W. Goudy to cut matrices. He died in Chicago, aged 57.
[LC, December 2009]