News for December

Here at Skyline we have an affinity for the rare, the antique, and the unusual, even bizarre. You can get Garamond and Caslon (ho-hum) from other sources, but most of our fonts and specialties can’t be obtained anywhere else on the planet. That said, get a load of this happy-bomb: Smiley in 24 point!

You can’t be serious! Not with this type face, anyway. Smiley may rate a “WTF” or two, but it’s for real. (One of our regular customers, when this project was leaked on social media, declared he would buy a font just so he could smash it up!) The face was acquired in Skyline’s 2010 buyout of Barcotype, Chicago’s last operating type foundry, and nothing else is known about it. So rare it’s not listed in McGrew’s American Metal Type Faces. The matrices are a peculiar style, and the type casts nicks-down.

While producing Smiley, it occurred to our casterman, T.H., that a type face this goofy needs a companion border just as ridiculous. So we pulled out the cap O, which is simply a smiley-face, threw in some hippie flowers for corners, and backed it all up with solid dots for a two-color design. We’re calling it Border No. U-28, in 24 point. Are you brave enough??

On a more sane level, we’re pleased to introduce Border No. 1628 in 18 point. This eye-grabbing Border was a tough one to do. Using our standard precision-alignment procedures, the design just didn’t prove out—those little white lines gotta match up. The 30-font initial casting was reluctantly dumped in the hellbox and we went back to the drawing board to develop an alignment technique specific to this Border. That worked better; the proof from the second casting passed Quality Control and it is hereby proffered to you for your printing pleasure.

November was an uphill month in other ways, too. In a two-week restock project of Della Robbia in 14 point, we experienced an inordinate number of failed matrices, necessitating mucho recasting. Fortunately we had a second font of matrices but even some of them failed, threatening to eighty-six the whole effort. Miraculously, a third font was found in the Reserve Matrix Library and we narrowly dodged the bullet—but there will be no more castings done for that size of Della unless we luck into more matrices.

Last month we launched a new page on our site called Best Practices (found in the About Skyline menu), and published an illustrated essay about handling type. Here’s a fresh presentation for this month, entitled Type Case Vandalism: A Moral Tale. Check it out, and your feedback is invited. Twenty-two new listings were posted in The Junk Bin for November.

It is said that there’s nothing finer than printing on a rainy or snowy day. So throw another log on the fire and do up something beautiful—with or without Smiley.

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