Parsons was designed by Will Ransom for Barnhart Brothers and Spindler in 1917 where it was described as a “meteoric” success for the Chicago foundry. Ransom based the Parsons design on a style of hand-lettering he had been using for the Chicago advertisers, I.R. Parsons, owner of a department store in the city is who the type was named after.
The long ascenders and descenders (twice the body size of the face in sizes under 72 pt.) is one of the more unique elements of Parsons, Ransom was hesitant about releasing the long characters fearing that designers would use them without discretion. Ultimately BB&S released the long character with a caveat by Ransom stating that use of the long characters should be limited to one per line in most occasions. This suggestion was largely ignored, but the type was a tremendous success for BB&S, so much so that American Type Founders added it to their catalog when they officially absorbed BB&S.