We’ve been standing down from foundry operations for a couple of weeks now, due to unrelenting heat. Prescott is in Arizona’s central highlands, and at 5400 ft elevation, we don’t often get temps over 90. But there’s been a record string of 100+ degree days, and that ain’t no kinda weather for typecasting! Then the Goodwin Fire struck 25 miles south of here. Our casterman T.H. lives down that way and was ordered to evacuate. As of today it’s still burning, but the army of firefighters has mostly gained control and it should all be over pretty soon.
We were able to complete one new project before all of the above; an example of the “Egyptian” faces that enjoyed great popularity in the mid-19th century. It’s cast from matrices in the Charlie Broad collection. He called it Egyptian Shaded Extended, but you won’t find it in any old specimen books. In researching it, the trail ultimately led to Dan Solo, who in the late 20th century created popular optical fonts from a multitude of type faces old and new. The evidence indicates that these mats were cut from Solo’s face named Galena. A lowercase is shown for it, but those mats were not cut, so we’re calling it Galena Title (24pt).
We’ll be back in production when conditions permit, and keep on delivering
the good stuff. Meanwhile, come July 20, Pack Your Box With Five Dozen Liquor Jugs and head to California for the 2017 APA Wayzgoose at the International Printing Museum! It’s open to all friends of letterpress. Skyline will be there presenting a hands-on Typecasting Seminar and of course peddling all manner of shiny new type at the Swap Meet. Everything you need to know is online at www.apawayzgoose.com. (BTW we have an extra bunk at Motel 6 available—send an email if you’d like to roomshare.) See you there!
It seems like we spend half our time doing maintenance, repairs and problem-solving to keep these venerable old casters running—but every month we manage to have something worthwhile to show for it. So let’s go railroadin’!
In Collection No. 44 we present that famous old Figgins train, as shown in the 1887 specimen of England’s type foundry by that name. There are two sizes of it (24 & 30pt) in the Collection. They are identical in design except that in the smaller size the locomotive has been reversed and is now westbound. Lots of multiples for each piece.
On the next track we find Collection No. 45: eight different locomotives, all 19th century, and again plenty of multiples.
For printing your tickets and timetables, here’s 18 point Pacific, a delightful Victorian released by American Type Founders in 1892, their first year in existence as an amalgamation of numerous regional foundries.
At Skyline we have never linked or endorsed any other business on our web site. But there’s a first time for everything, and Josef Beery’s little Book Beetle is so
—uh,—impressive, that we can’t help but urge you to check it out. It’s a neat little tabletop wooden hand press that he has designed, put into production, and is selling quite reasonably. (This was brought to our attention by a customer who pointed out that he was recommending Skyline type in the Book Beetle instruction manual.) When you have a minute, take a look at his cool web site, www.bookbeetlepress.com, and we’ll see you next month.
This month we took a diversion from our usual obsession with antique revivals and made a foray into the typographically fertile land of pre-Nazi Germany—and came back with Homewood in 36pt for your printing pleasure. This unique face originated as a variant of Metropolis, which is a classic example of the forward-looking and rapidly-changing design styles happening in Germany at that time. The matrices used for this casting are those of the recutting of Metropolis Lined done by Baltotype in the 1940s.
Back in stock by popular demand: Keynote in 24 pt and Della Robbia 18pt.
Times being what they are, it seems only appropriate for us to offer something peculiarly suited to all our left-leaning printer friends. Behold: 24pt Delraye, a face that goes all the way back to the days of Whigs and Mugwumps (the philosophies of which could also be viewed as strangely apropos these days!). This backslanted, oblique, shadowed face actually originated with the Figgins type foundry in England. You can use it to print titles on manifestos, petitions, and propaganda leaflets. Tories be warned—don’t stare at it too long or you might start listing to port.
Moreover, furthermore, and withal, say hello to another 19th century face, Thunderbird Extra Condensed in 48pt. This being the largest size we are able to produce at Skyline, it complements our previous casting of T-bird XC in 36. Plenty of both are in stock.
Our third new item this month is Collection No. 42. It’s an array of stuff specific to the printing craft, including a gaggle of those cute little colonial printers. And there are a couple of things in here just for our Canadian friends.
Happy Spring—the days are growing longer, and time is running out on your excuse that it’s too cold in the shop to print!
Last month’s Border No. U-6 has been positively identified by one of our sharp customers as Element #26 of the Central Type Foundry’s spectacular Floriated Border, as shown in their 1892 specimen. Thanks, Laura.
For this month’s new font we present Figaro in 36pt. Better known in the U.S. as “Old Towne”, it was a 1940 design from British Monotype. The face is one more version of French Clarendon Condensed which was enormously popular in the mid-19th century—and now for us in America, it’s strongly reminiscent
of the old west.
Back in stock: Cloister Old Style 18pt and Arboret No. 2, 24pt.
Fun with Explosives! That’s what we’re calling Collection No. 40, new this month for your convenience in blowing things up. And we’ve done three more new borders in the Floor-Sweepings-From-The-Matrix-Vault Series: Border No. U-6, a single-element antique floral (there’s undoubtedly a story behind this; perhaps it’s one piece of an elaborate 19th-century ornamental set). Border No. U-15 is a dainty little thing that looks delicate but is a single element, 6 x 36 points, easy to compose. And then there’s the heavy-handed Border No. U-16 in 36pt, also one element. Attila the Hun used this one on his wedding invitation.
Back in stock after too long an absence is the favorite antique Tuscan Graille. Press on, and have a fine Ground Hog Day!
We’re calling this month’s new stuff “Floor Sweepings from the Matrix Vault”. Collections No. 37, 38, 39, and 41 all consist of single-element ornaments, oddballs, orphans, and designs that just don’t fit in with anything else we have. No. 37 was done from four matrices we got from a defunct foundry in India, including a lotus blossom, their version of a hippie-flower, and Ganesha, the Hindu elephant-god who is revered as the remover of obstacles and patron of new beginnings, and of letters and learning. The three calligraphic flourishes in No. 38 are actually ATF designs. The other ornate decorators probably originated with 19th-century type faces, and that sine wave is likely a chemical or mathematical symbol. The special-occasion goodies in No. 39 are matrices from Barco Type, which Skyline bought out some years ago. In No. 41 you can figure out for yourself what they are and what to do with them. The two martinis could be overprinted chromatically. Here’s your chance to get creative!
Back in stock now is the very popular Tuscan Floral in 36 point. (That ornate end-bracket in Collection No. 38 would go beautifully with it.)
From the beginning, our philosophy at Skyline has been to preserve and perpetuate the ancient and esoteric craft of typefounding, and to keep new type within reach of all in the letterpress community. In general our prices have been about half of those of our friends at M&H Type, the country’s oldest and largest foundry. As 2016 draws to a close, however, the numbers reveal that our costs have exceeded revenue for the year. Therefore the current revision of our online Specimen Book & Catalog reflects an incremental price increase. We sincerely thank all our customers for your continued friendship and loyalty.
And so commences another loop around the sun in our Spaceship Earth, the 2017th since counting began. May it be a journey of fellowship, successes and our best printing ever!