News for January

Over the years we have received many inquiries as to the availability of Hebrew type. Matrices were made in this language for all the linecasting machines, and we have long been in search of some, but without success—except for one 12 point linotype font. Absent any other prospects, the decision was made to go ahead and cast this small size. So here is Mergenthaler Linotype’s No. 79 Hebrew. It consists of the full 22-character alphabet (or “alefbet“) along with a few alternate letterforms and nine additional accented or doubled letters.

Working with and understanding this unfamiliar alphabet was something of a challenge. To this gentile it looks like something from outer space! Some of the characters are extremely similar; and Hebrew is of course read and written right to left. These matrices are manufactured with the characters inverted such that a line could be composed in the right order, then the slug simply flipped over to reverse the direction. (For this reason the type casts with the nick on the opposite side of the body from its normal position.) The big question was what font scheme to use: how to proportion the quantities of the different letters. Fortunately a study was located in which character count was done on a diverse collection of Hebrew documents, containing almost a million letters, and this data fit the need perfectly.

Also new this month is Border No. 1538 in 18 point. This is one of about fifteen designs in the reverse style, white-on-black, issued by Monotype at a relatively late date (their consecutive design numbers peter out in the 1600s). We have also cast several others from this series.

Recast and back in stock: Border No. F-534, Border No. G-1 “Peapods & Greyhounds”, Border No. G-7, Collection No. 44 the Figgins Trains, and Collection No. 48 Decorative Dashes.

Near the end of a production day last month a young UPS driver came by to deliver a load of packaging materials. Wheeling the big cartons in, he immediately took notice of and expressed enthusiastic interest over the shop and its machinery. I gave him a whirlwind tour and explained the Thompson typecasters (patented 1907) and their product. All our equipment and furnishings are of course from the first half of the previous century (the proprietor, at 68, may well be the youngest artifact in the place!). The fellow found it all quite fascinating. He hurried on his way with this memorable comment: “Wow, it really smells old in here!”

Happy New Year to all our friends and customers, past, present and future.

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