Welcome to Arizona’s Premier Type Foundry!
Our Mission Statement
“To preserve and perpetuate the ancient and esoteric craft of typefounding,
and to make new type available to the Letterpress Community at the lowest
reasonable cost consistent with a sustainable operation.”
A Passion for Type.
The very word is enough to put a smile on the face of any letterpress printer. Ever since Johann Gutenberg and his associates began hand-casting individual metal letters half a millennium ago, the craft of typefounding has gone hand-in-hand with the Black Art of printing. With letterpress now enjoying an exuberant revival among fine printers, artists, and hobbyists, where can a printer go to get type? Where is the corresponding revival in typecasting? It’s here at Skyline Type Foundry, LLC. We know type, we use type, and we love type. All on the Skyline crew are competent letterpress printers, with combined experience of over 63 years, and together we own some 28 presses (11 of which are in the Skyline pressroom) and several thousand fonts of type.
Skyline opened in June, 2004, and is proudly carrying forward the ancient and esoteric craft of making metal printing type. We are both proud and humbled to be the de facto successors to multiple type foundries of historic note: included in our matrix library are fonts made and/or previously owned by American Type Founders, Perfection, Triangle, Neon, Empire, King, Stephenson-Blake, Detroit, Barco, Castcraft, Missouri-Central, Quaker City, and Los Angeles Type Foundries. And in 2010 we were fortunate enough to acquire the complete matrix collection of the late Charles Broad’s famous Typefounders of Phoenix, consisting of over 50 revivals of 19th century type faces.
Skyline now offers for sale many type and border fonts, with new additions each month. You will find our type to be reasonably priced, because we want to preserve and promote letterpress printing, and keep new type within the reach of all printers.
We are fortunate to have brought together over 3,000 fonts of matrices from which to cast type, ranging from 6 to 48 point, and matrices for some 3,500 different borders and ornaments. Our holdings include almost all well-known faces and a good many antique and uncommon ones. You will find a downloadable inventory of these in The Matrix Vault. Selected fonts and borders will be cast and promoted with specimens here on this website, and by notices posted to various Letterpress Printing online forums, Briar Press, and in the monthly bundle of the Amalgamated Printers Association.
Is it Monotype or “Real Type?”
This question comes our way regularly from customers. The Monotype Company designed and built its machines (Composition Caster and Sorts Caster) to produce type that was intended to be used once, and then remelted, and the specified metal alloy is a softer one than that used for true foundry type. The Thompson Type Casters in service at Skyline were engineered to produce durable type to be laid in cases and used many times. In his book Practical Typecasting (Oak Knoll, 1993) Theo Rehak states, “There are many who consider the Thompson machine a very close second to the foundry automatics.” Mr. Rehak was a casterman at American Type Founders until its end, and subsequently proprietor of The Dale Guild Type Foundry, using former ATF equipment.
How Much Type is in a Font?
Using this chart, you can see the exact quantity of every character in each of our fonts.
Available Type and Custom Castings
Fonts and borders that we have already cast, and are on the shelf for immediate shipping, are shown in our Products Catalog on the menu above. New items are steadily added as more castings are done. On-request (commissioned) castings can sometimes be worked into our schedule, depending on several variables and with a certain minimum purchase. Email your request and we’ll certainly give it serious consideration.
Special Custom Casting: Sorts
“Sorts” is the old-time term for type of one or a few specific characters in a small quantity, over and above what comes in a standard font. In addition to over 3,000 type fonts and an estimated 3,500 border and ornament elements, the Skyline matrix vault also has a large collection of symbols, typographic accessories and other characters (such as fractions) not normally included in a font. We can cast most any of these upon request. Sorts are traditionally furnished in 36-pica lines—that is, as many pieces of any one specified character as will fit in 36 picas.
Sorts pricing is $15.00 for one line, $10.00 each for 2-5 additional lines of the same character, and $7.00 per line beyond that.
Will Skyline Type work for Hot Foil Stamping?
The short answer is, “Yes, but.” It is not represented or sold as stamping type. Physically it will work—that is, it will fit and function in your foil stamping machine. However, true foil stamping type is necessarily made of a harder substance (brass or zinc) to resist the heat and pressure inherent in that process. Lead alloy printing type will smash down and deform over time and use. Another possible issue is the “depth of drive”, which is the dimension that the face of the type is raised above the body. This dimension is normally larger in stamping type to prevent interference of the body when stamping soft materials such as leather. Although there is some variation depending on the size and source, printing type typically has a depth of 0.050″ (1/20 inch). All of that said, a regular font of printing type contains many of each character (see the Font Scheme Chart) and it would certainly be possible to replace type with fresh pieces from the font as necessary when they wear out. Sources for brass type are Fine Cut in England and Durable Technologies in the USA.
We Buy Type Metal
Skyline produces about 10,000 lbs of type per year. Our primary raw material is new metal from a commercial smelter, custom-formulated to our specified alloy of 70% Lead, 10% Tin, 20% Antimony (nominal Brinell hardness, 30.0). We also purchase and use old scrap type. If you can deliver it to us, either at the foundry or at one of the annual Printers’ Fairs, we’ll pay $1.50 per pound in cash or foundry credit. Preferred container is gallon plastic jugs (no cardboard boxes please; they’re slippery and the bottom falls out). Drop us an email if you have metal to ship and we’ll coordinate it.
Here’s an 18-minute
video tour of the Skyline
Foundry and Pressroom.
Who’s Behind Skyline?
That’s me, Schuyler (Sky) Shipley, Proprietor. I collect, restore and operate antique presses. I’ve been involved with type and letterpress printing since 1962, at the age of 8. Skyline Type Foundry LLC was formed in 2004. It is very rewarding to preserve and perpetuate this ancient and esoteric craft, and to put shiny new type into the hands of letterpress printers worldwide. By lifestyle choice I do not Zoom, text, or use social media—but you can always reach me by email on my desk computer. In this shop, the digital tools are servants of the hot metal process.
American Typecasting Fellowship
Amalgamated Printers Association (#578)
St. Louis Letterpress Society (Founder Emeritus)
Society of Quasi-United Itinerant Repair and Restoration Engineers for LinecasterS
Southwest Letterpress Users Guild
Printers Initiative of Central Arizona
Since opening in 2004,
Skyline Type Foundry has produced:
15,288 Type Fonts
6,672 Border Fonts
1,450 Initial Fonts
5,681 Ornament Collections
Type in Stock and Ready for Shipment at the beginning of this Quarter:
Visitors Always Welcome!
We like company here. It’s always a pleasure to roll out the red carpet for past, present and future type customers; printers, engineers, historians, friends of letterpress printing, and camp followers.
Send an email if you’ll be in central Arizona, and we’ll put your visit on the calendar.
Our mailing address: P.O. Box 12816, Prescott AZ 86304.