01/10 Foundry Pressroom

Go [ back in time. | up the tree. | into the future! ]


When we're casting a font of type, we save an extra character to make a proof. Here are the types and resulting proof for 36 point Centaur (Bruce Rogers) and 18 point Goudy Old Style (Frederic Goudy).


We have six complete composition casters, each with its own quirks, each suited for a certain size. The farthest caster is connected via a serial box equipped with microswitches to a Macintosh Quadra, allowing us to feed text files to the caster.


We have six complete Thompson casters, one of which dates back to the beginning of Mackenzie & Harris (then known as the Monotype Composition Company) in 1915. The chart hanging from the pipe indicates point to inch conversions.


We have many many many cases of type, some of which came from the Grabhorn Press, others from Mackenzie & Harris. The trim saw, which we use to cut slugs and undercut (kern) characters, sits in the back.


Here is a composition caster, with used control tape a-plenty (note the tray and the bucket to the lower left), and a few fonts of 10 on 12 point Janson (Nicholas Kis). Note the can of mold oil on the galley.


We store our composition mat cases in custom-built (Lewis Mitchell) shelves. Searching can take some time.


This is my frame, or office, or cubicle, or whatever. Up top are leads, use for spacing between lines. Below that are space cases, holding quads and spaces, half-point to 2 ems, 6 to 36 point. At the bottom are more type cases. Note the string, which we use to tie up forms. Also note the magnets, which are a staple here.


This is the hallway that leads from the pressroom to the foundry (and vice-versa). The boxes on the right hold quads and spaces, and the shelves are full of type, ready for shipping. The ladder is fully functional. The green drawers to the left hold loose sorts.


Our Heidelberg cylinder press, from the fifties. A very interesting machine.


Here are some of the cabinets where mats are stored for use in the Thompson casters. There are 5 more cabinets.


Here is a mat case for 14 point Centaur (Bruce Rogers). This is loaded into the composition caster, which will move the mats above the mold according to the position indicated on the control tape. In smaller sizes, mat cases can often hold roman, italic, and small caps at the same time. This is an English mat case that requires caster modifications to work on our American equipment.


On the bottom left is a case and sample mat of American-type Thompson mats, these ones for 36 point Goudy Light Italic (Frederic Goudy). On the right is a case and sample mat of English-type Thompson mats, those for 36 point Centaur (Bruce Rogers). Sitting above the "E" is a mat holder, which is loaded into the caster and allows the casterman to properly align the mat on the body.


Our Miller TW, the largest press we have. Paradise Lost was printed on this. This is a two-color press, with two impression rollers, two beds, and two fountains. Note the Rube-Goldberg-style powder-spraying mechanism.


Here is a close up of the impression cylinder and inking rollers on the Miller. The yellow paper is tympan, and the amount of impression can be adjusted by adding or removing sheets under it.


The Monotype keyboard is the device that punches the paper control tape for use by the composition caster. The keys provide access to lower and upper case roman and italic, along with small caps, ligatures, special characters such as digraphs and much more. When setting in justified mode, the operator reads the drum to determine the appropriate word spacing to justify the line.


Here you can see the Victoria (smaller) and Laureate (bigger) platen presses in the foreground, the Miller TW in the background, and the Vandercook proofing presses in the far left. Also visible are the imposing stone, furniture rack, and Jerry's Desk of Mess.


Our main imposing stone. Before type is loaded in the press, it is made up on this stone, planed, and locked up in chases (steel frames, one is on the far end of the stone). Some stones are made from marble. This one is milled steel.


Here is a Thompson caster, mat holder in place, with freshly-made 36 point Goudy Light Italic (Frederic Goudy) cap sorts.


This Thompson caster is configured for casting 24 point type. The red lines are for water to cool the mold; The bare wire going into the pot is attached to a defunct thermocouple/thermostat assembly. Note the font character count chart on the wall.


This is a California job case. Lowercase characters and figures (numbers) occupy the left two thirds of the case, capitals the rest. Capitals are placed in (roughly) alphabetical order, lowercase in frequency of use. There are more "e"s than anything else. Dig it.


The Victoria, made in Germany by the Rockstroh Werke. A gem. Reciprocating rollers provide better ink distribution than an ink disc, and the platen approaches parallel to the type. Note the nearly new rollers. There is a auto-feeding mechanism stored away that is nearly as big as the rest of the machine.


After fonts are cast, they are made up into rows of 36 pica lines, tied up, cased by chipboard and foam, and wrapped for shelving or shipment. Here are capital fonts of 36 point Centaur (Bruce Rogers).

Go [ back in time. | up the tree. | into the future! ]

This page was brought to you by sh, sed, awk, find and convert.

Questions? Comments? Email Chris Chen.