The Tribby Tribune

Number 61     *     March 2000

Typecasting Update

Tribby Tribune number 60 (December 1999) presented information gathered from United States type foundries during 1999. Here is the promised follow-up article that reports responses from foundries and readers.


M & H Type (Mackenzie & Harris)

Efforts continue to save the letterpress facilities shared by Arion Press and M & H Type. Through January, they collected letters of support to send to the National Trust for Historic Preservation asking for inclusion in "11 Most Endangered Historic Places 2000." According to their Web site (, they are considering putting part of their operation on non-profit status with possible links to local universities. They are working to extend the June 30 deadline for leaving their current facility.

M & H increased their type prices by about 20% in January. For example, the cost of sort lines changed from $15 to $18 per pound. This is their first increase since 1994.

Harold Berliner, Typefounder

Harold Berliner was so enthusiastic about AAPA's "Typefaces Available from U.S. Foundries" Web page (http://foundry.html) that he assisted in updating his listings. He noted that the minimum order of $250 covers any characters in the same mat case, which includes both bold and medium for Sans Serif fonts. Often accents are also available. He pointed out "Price is still $14 a pound, which is the ATF cost of 1913 plus inflation. . . . $250 buys 18 pounds of type which is 72 square inches." He also noted an advantage of the Monotype matrices he uses: "The virtue of British mats is that they have a .50 depth of drive, while Americans have only .30. A big help for amateurs using small presses."

Swamp Press

Ed Rayher noted two recent changes. First, his typemetal mixture is now 10% tin and 16% antimony (rather than 6.58% and 15.9%). Second, the volume discount for 4 or more fonts is 15% instead of 20%.

Sterling Type Foundry

Dave Churchman enjoyed the article, but had several additions:

"We DO cast fonts, most of which are re-pops of old time foundry faces (Belgian, Glyptic, etc.). It is our intent to bring new (for us) old time faces out once or twice a year. We are currently at work on an early Boston T. F. display face: 22 pt. Mystic, which should be on offer in February or March of 2000. In addition to these floradora faces, we also stock both 24 and 30 point Monotype #100 (German `Heintzemann').

"Our dingbat/border/logo inventory is over 3000 and new items are being added almost weekly. We also sell both new and used spacing material, including oddball sizes and have on hand an excellent inventory of leads, slugs, and various type-high rules.

"To date we have had no hassles from EPA folks and it is our intent to continue the business well into the 21st long as there are customers for our products.

"Lastly, there is hard metal and hard metal but we try for something between ATF hardness (14-24) and Government Standard for Monotype (9-19)."

John Hern Printing and Type Foundry

John Hern noted: "I try to keep in stock everything I advertise. I have only had to backorder one or two people to date, and the wait wasn't too long in either case. I usually have half a dozen minimum of everything in stock." He still has 18 point DeVinne on hand: "collector fonts" (3A-5a) for $20, as well as 7A-14a and 15A-32a fonts.

Michael and Winifred Bixler Press & Letterfoundry

Michael Bixler sent his 1995 specimen book (an updated one is in the works) and some comments:

"In your research, please consider the `depth of drive' for Monotype composition typefaces: most are only .030 inch because American shops bought only American/Lanston mats. All of my type is cast from .050 drive English Monotype matrices--for two reasons: 1) the deeper drive lends a greater strength to type enduring the letterpress `punch,' particularly necessary for well kerned italic characters, and 2) buying type is an investment, and anything less than the best, both technically and aesthetically, is a waste of time, money, space, and artistic potential."


M&H and Swamp price increases change the examples published earlier:

Example 1: Several pages of 10 point Garamond

  Foundry Roman SC Italic Cost
  M & H 52A 364a 28A 28A 112 $390.00
  Swamp 48A 360a 16A 16A 72a $193.80
  Quaker 48A 360a 24A 24A 72a $230.20
  Berliner 45A 360a 15A 15A 90a $391.50

Example 2: Several pages of 12 point Bembo

  M & H 48A 336a 24A 25A 96a $430.00
  Swamp 48A 360a 16A 16A 72a $280.50
  Berliner 45A 330a 15A 15A 90a $427.25

Example 3: A single font of 18 point Garamond Bold

  M & H 13A 26a $89.50
  Swamp 16A 36a $80.00
  Quaker   4A  6a $18.80
  Barco 12A 20a $80.85

Example 4: A single font of 24 point Brush

  M & H   6A 15a $139.00
  Swamp 10A 18a $100.00
  Quaker   4A   6a $  24.50
  Barco   8A 14a $138.80


Rich Hopkins, who offers "Typefounders University" classes at his West Virginia shop and edits/prints American Typecasting Fellowship Newsletter, had several comments:

"When you speak of cast fonts on the shelf, I think your listing probably is a bit over-stated. Bill Riess is probably the only one who makes a valiant effort to keep his fonts in stock today. Most of the others wait for orders before they cast anything. If you happen to ask for something they have on the shelf, the service is instant. Otherwise, you have to wait.

"Does that mean that typefounding is at an end? Probably some things are more available now than they were in yesteryear. The trick is to partner with a typefounder and get him hot on the same idea you're hot on. There is a good listing of people making type on the typecasting page that Tom Conlon has put together ( Dan Jones in Canada makes a bunch of fonts and then sells them. He doesn't stock them. Rich Hopkins does the same thing . . . when he does anything of that nature. But if you approach me with a project, maybe setting up a 16-page booklet in 12 pt. Baskerville, then I am far more prone to do the type for you than if you simply wrote me and asked for my list of stock fonts. Casting and stocking fonts simply is not a viable alternative for anyone casting type today. There are too many faces out there and there is a very fragile and fickle buying market. I feel the great majority of people on Tom's list would likely `partner' with someone if they had a clear view of what they want.

"I personally am excited about casting composition for people doing small journals. After printing the journal I composed, they then could distribute the type for use in hand-setting future issues. That's facilitated by the Monroe Postman interface which is allowing me to drive my Monotype with a Macintosh, which means no re-typing of the manuscript (providing the text is available on a disk, e-mail, etc.)."


Even though Mike Anderson (At Random Press) can cast his own, he purchases type from Bill Reiss, Theo Rehak, and Harold Berliner. "I hope many of our members take heed to what your paper is saying and try to keep the craft alive."


Dr. Leland G. Whitson, a member of American Typecasting Fellowship, related his experiences purchasing type: "I've ordered type from most of the foundries you list. I agree with you that Quaker City and M & H have been the most prompt. I enjoy being able to call Bill Weiss (Quaker City) personally and discuss my order. Then two days later my order arrives without fail."


NAPA member Richard Orr also shared experiences purchasing type:

"A number of years ago I ordered a bunch of type from F&S. It was good type, and I made the acquaintance of Sy (Petal?) when I visited Bensenville to turn in some old metal and pick up my order. He's a friendly fellow and showed me around his shop. I have since ordered sorts. A few lines came with errors, which he quickly corrected.

"A couple of years ago I ordered some 6 pt. Baskerville from Quaker City. Bill Reiss told me that he has been filling F&S orders for smaller sizes because Sy no longer makes anything smaller than about 12 or 14 point now.

"When in Pennsylvania I stopped in Honey Brook to pick up my Baskerville, met Bill, and toured his little shop. Bill, too, is friendly and a pleasure to do business with. He seems to go out of his way to please customers."

All amateur journalists and hobby printers are invited to attend

AAPA Convention 2000

June 16 - 18, 2000

at the Executive Inn Hotel

20777 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward, California

Closest airport: Oakland International. Other nearby airports are in
San Francisco and San Jose. For further information, contact

Convention Chairman Barry Schrader

1220 Hillcrest Avenue, Livermore, CA 94550

Phone (925) 449-7888; E-mail:

THE TRIBBY TRIBUNE is published by Dave Tribby, 1529 Fantail Court, Sunnyvale, CA 94087; e-mail: This issue (as well as number 60) was laid out in California and electronically transmitted to Linda Donaldson in Ohio for printing.