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.
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, 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 on this website, by internet notices posted to the Letterpress Forum, 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. 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.
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. 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.
We Buy Type Metal
Skyline produces about 10,000 lbs of type per year. Our raw material is old scrap type. The day will come when supplies dry up, but for now our needs are being met by obtaining old type metal whenever and wherever we can. At present it’s not economical ship it, but if you can deliver it to us, either at the foundry or at one of the annual Printers’ Fairs, we’ll pay $1.00 per pound in cash or foundry credit. All type metal is accepted, including foundry, monotype, linotype, and strip material, and need not be sorted out. (Preferred container is gallon plastic jugs—no cardboard boxes please; they’re slippery and the bottom falls out.)
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.
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:
8,744 Type Fonts
3,785 Border Fonts
667 Initial Fonts
For you — our customers and friends!
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.