- The possibility of setting up a letterpress shop for the printing of
limited editions, broadsides & ephemera using handset types is not
so difficult as it might seem; but you must know what types you will
want to work with, what sizes you will need, & you will need to be
prepared to spend what it takes to buy the types. A huge range of
material is still available.
I have recently discussed this with a young novice monk with a local
Franciscan community, & it seems likely after locating my copy of
Der Bieler's book on printing polymer on the cylinder press he de-
cided that that was the most efficient way to go.
I prefer handset type, not for antiquarian reasons, but because the
business of handsetting is frankly peaceful, calming & focused. I
may be in the minority here, but I find the fussing over this to be
even restful & the results of the entire process to be most reward-
ing. This is purely personal, & I do not do producton work or com-
mercial work, nor do I do runs greater than 25 copies.
I have about 75 lbs at least of 22 Centaur from M&H type; they also
were able to supply European accents, a few of which I bought for
them, & they kindly supplied cut-backs for closer fitting of a, o
& e lower case to use with W, Y, etc. I also have the companinon
Arrighi. I have a lot of miles on this stuff & it serves me well to
this day. I will probably replace all of it next year, because I
plan on using it until I drop the last sort into the stick. I also
have a similar amount of 16 point Poliphilus from M&H with accents.
The Bixler Foundry has one of the finest, intentionally conceived
type lists around. They also have some really rare stuff. I have a
really large amount of 16 point Eric Gill Sans from them, & they now
have one of only two sets of matrices ever made of Berthold Wolpe's
If you scour the lists of Don Black & visit Printers' Fairs & Wayz-
geese you will pick up treasures of display stuff & tools.
The Offizin Parnassia in Switzerland bought the tremendous Monotype
collection of Harold Berliner & they also offer for sale including
the fantastic Hermann Zapf Civilite which I fortunately bought in
quantity from Harold.
N. A. Graphics has numerous faces cast on Barth casters at Dale
Guild by Theo Rehak. If you want type to last forever this is the
place to look. They have a terrific 16 point Garamond in stock &
they also have Goudy Franciscan & Friar.
The Bauer Foundry still exisits in Barcelona. They cast only to
36 point, have a full range of Western European & Scandinavian
accents. I bought about 7 fonts each of Legend in 20 & 36 point
with sorts of the ligatures & all European accents. I also bought
Berthold Wolpe's beautiful Hyperion in 16, 24 & 36 point with the
Stempel still has some fonts left over from normal business hours,
Fruehling Fraktur, Present Script (the last metal typeface made) &
others. I recently bought 7 fonts of 20 point Fruehling for about
2000.00. They will cast book fonts or minimum orders in kilos as
will Bauer. The representative for both foundries is at:
Foundry type is always the same, because they maintained accurate
standards, highly trained personnel & needed to provide replace-
ment sorts to customers that would always line with previously
purchased types. Monotype orders should be accompanied by a lower
& upper case H or whatever they suggest so the caster can make
sure the alingment will be the same as what you already have.
So setting up a shop with handset type is actually relatively
easy. You just have to want it badly enought to pay for it, be
clear on your needs & go for it. The digital/polymer scenario will
become the standard for new printers, just because it is so much
easier. For the novice I mentioned above he may end up in the
Friary in New Jersey or remain in San Francisco. Either way his
move will be much easier for only having to pack his laptop & his
the reference library I am helping him to acquire. I on the other
hand am happily nailed to the spot with tons of metal.
I can supply web address for any of the suppliers I have mentioned,
but I did not have the time to include them here. Please ask off-