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News for June

Things are hoppin’ here at Skyline!  Three weeks ago we took on a full-time intern—Michael L, a grad student in art at Arizona State U—and this has upped our game considerably.  (And the boss is that much busier now trying to keep ahead of the crew.)  New this month: Staccato in 24pt.  This robust face has its origins in early 19th century wood type, variously named Tuscan Extended or Expanded.  The first appearance in metal that we found was in 1867. When and how it acquired the name remains a mystery, but the matrices (milled) are from the Chas. Broad collection and were probably made by his Japanese source.  At least two of CB’s faces are known to have been cut from optical fonts.  Staccato, identical in every detail, appears among the numerous 19th century revival optical fonts published by Dan X. Solo.  But Solo’s work was mostly released in the 1970s and Charlie died in 1965, so the shroud of mystery remains.

Also new: Border No. U-18  in 18pt.  What is it??  We don’t know!  But if your initials are H. H., you need this.  (I’m talkin’ to you, Zip Code 05672!)

Back in stock:  Iroquois Condensed,  Border No. 27,  Border No. 179,  Border No. 313  (the 6-element ribbon design) and the much-in-demand Bruce Rogers Combination Ornaments, both Solid and Inlined, Collections 13 and 14.  Our new product category  The Junk Bin  continues to enjoy popularity and we keep throwing more stuff into it, with about 100 used and surplus items currently for sale there.

A certain fine printer in California has been pleading with Skyline for years to cast Deepdene in 16 point, and possibly the companion Italic as well.  The roman alone would be at least two solid weeks of casting, and we’re just not sure the demand is there to justify the project.  But we promised him we’d run it up the flagpole and see who salutes.  Would you buy 16 point Deepdene?  If so, drop a line.  If the demand warrants, we’ll just have to knuckle under and do it.

Here in the Kingdom of Skyline we maintain strict political neutrality, but an issue has arisen of late that could really screw things up for us selling type to you.  Clouds are gathering in D.C. to enable state taxation of artisans, entrepreneurs and small businesses who sell their work online.  A petition is being promoted by eBay to oppose this.  Check it out and sign if you will. ‘Nuff said.

The APA Denver Wayzgoose is this month, yahoo!  All the big names in letterpress will be there, and you’re invited—you don’t have to be an APA member.  Everything you need to know is here:

One last thing: you gotta see this 3-minute video, titled Inkiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Art, featuring Graham Judd, one of Skyline’s good customers down under in New Zealand:  If that doesn’t get a smile out of you, then you’d better check to make sure you have a pulse!

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News for May

On August 23, 2016, we began the casting of a certain decorative type face.  Before the project was completed, that caster went down with mechanical trouble.  (Technically, the Choker Bushing became so worn that the Choker Valve was not seating properly, and the liquid metal under pressure of the Pump Piston was bypassing the Choker Valve back into the main part of the pot, resulting in poorly-cast type.)  The machine was dismantled and the offending part taken to a machine shop, where the Choker Bushing was experimentally counterbored and sleeved, with the intent of restoring the integrity of the valve seat.  This all seemed to go well, but upon reassembling the machine it was found that for reasons incomprehensible the Choker Valve now did not align properly with the Nozzle orifice, causing it to leak molten metal onto the deck of the caster.

Further attempts to repair this repair were unsuccessful.  So a different worn-out part was scrounged from the junkpile and sent to a different machine shop for a different experimental repair—face-milling the Choker Bushing and compensating for the increased rearward travel of the Choker Valve by adjusting the linkage of the Choker Cam Lever Roller Yoke.  With much time and labor the machine was carefully reassembled, adjusted, tested, and found serviceable.  Production was successfully resumed.  But before the project was completed, the Matrix Carrier Cam Lever snapped and the machine jammed, shearing the teeth on the gear segment of the Mold Body Lever.  The few old used spares in our repair department were similarly broken.  Parts were pulled from a caster in storage, once again the machine was carefully repaired, adjusted, and tested; production was resumed.  Our determination prevailed and the project was finally finished last week.  With much blood, sweat, grease, and pride, we present to you one hundred shiny new fonts of Bernhard Fashion in 18 point.  A Spanish Accent Supplement is also available.


Why bore you with all this technical stuff?  So you know how hard we work to bring you these typographical treasures.  A substantial part of what goes on at Skyline is the maintenance and repair of our 70 to 80 year old machines.  The company that made them is long since scattered to the four winds, and we have only our wits and creative engineering to keep ’em going.  And we love what we do.

Back in stock: Victoria Italic, 10 point.  Thanks for your patronage!

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News for April

Casting type in the larger point sizes has its own set of engineering challenges—both mechanical and metallurgical.  Skyline’s Thompson machines are capable of sizes up to 48 point.  But because of those challenges, and consequent quality control issues, we have produced very little type larger than 36 point.  Thanks to determined research and experimentation by our shop foreman, these issues have been conquered and we’re now seeing consistently big, beautiful, solid type come out of the machine.  We have plenty of 48 point matrices in the vault waiting to be cast; both fonts and decorative.  To celebrate this breakthrough we have produced Goudy Text in 48 point.  This 1928 stylized blackletter face is one of Fred Goudy’s most distinctive and beautiful typographical designs.

But that’s not all!  FWG also designed a set of ornamental initials specifically intended for use with Goudy Text.  And so we were morally obliged to cast the Lombardic Capitals in 48 point as well; initials elegant by any standard.  These are furnished in a complete alphabet plus the original alternate T and Celtic ornament.

Last month we introduced our new product category The Junk Bin, and it continues to be populated with overruns, quads & spacing, new old ATF stock, and in general a clattering collection of caliginous junk.  Lots more waiting to go in as it gets photographed and listed.  Take a look, you’ll find some good deals.

Later this month we’ll be loading up the old pack mule and heading off for the Bay Area Printers Fair, Saturday, April 21.  Although smaller than the legendary LAPF, it’s a high-energy event and Skyline’s sales are consistently better.  The San Jose Printers Guild has a very nice vintage Printing Office there in History Park, and they do a bang-up job on this event.  Don’t miss it!

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News for March

In the course of buying up scrap and surplus type to reincarnate, we get a lot of material that’s still perfectly usable.  Some of this gets sold back into the letterpress community.  But we still have quite a bit of strip material, spacing & quads, and new-old-stock type still in the package (including ATF) that’s too good to shovel into the remelt furnace.  Therefore a new category called The Junk Bin has been added to the Products menu on our web site.  At present it contains only one item: a 10-lb package of assorted spacing and quads, including brass and copper thins—but keep an eye on it, we’ll be posting all kinds of interesting and useful stuff there in the future.

Best practice when locking up a form is of course to have the lines of type parallel to the rollers.  But when printing a box border, or any form with rule or a line of type perpendicular to the rollers, the full length of that line will contact the surface of the roller at the same place in its circumference, which results in poor inking.  Ever heard of a “bias chase”?  These can be seen in old printing equipment catalogs; the interior opening is rotated at a slight angle to the exterior dimensions.  Why?  Setting the form at an angle will make the initial contact of the rollers on the type smoother—but the primary advantage to a biased form is that with a slight angle, the vertical line or border will contact the surface of the roller in a gentle spiral rather than in the same place, which results in much better inking.  Bias chases are extremely rare, but today we unveil Skyline Bias Furniture, the easy way to convert any chase to bias.  It consists of four pieces of our standard birchwood imposing furniture cut to a slight angle.  (We consulted our alchemist’s charts and determined that the optimum angle for this would be 1 degree, 7 minutes, 24.6 seconds.)  Bias Furniture is a simple, elegant and inexpensive way to facilitate a permanent improvement in your platen presswork.  Sets are in stock for 8×12 and 10×15 presses, but we can make them for any chase size—just send us an email with your request.

Remember Alpha-Blox?  A couple of years ago we did a casting of these in 36 point from the original ATF matrices, and proffered them in a custom handcrafted hardwood presentation box of our own design and manufacture.  We have limited that edition to 40 and they are now sold out.  This being the case, Alpha-Blox fonts are now available without the box, and at a correspondingly lower price.  Get some while the gettin’s good, the stock is finite.

A couple of major casting projects are currently underway here.  They’re two Goudy designs, intended to be used together, but each can also be used alone.  We had hoped to have them ready for release today.  One is finished but the other still needs quite a bit more labor, so next month.  We had to have something new to offer for March, so we knocked out Border No. 423 in 24 point, a two-element design that looks pretty ancient.  Happy printing.

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News for February

We’re trying to get back in the groove of offering a new antique revival face every month.  Say hello to Jim Crow, in 30 point!  This face first appeared in 1850 as Dickinson Type Foundry’s ‘Gothic Shade’.  It’s one of several antiques presented in revival castings by American Type Founders in the 20th century, and thus is fairly well known.  Charles Broad at Typefounders of Phoenix also cast it in the 1960s and this type is from his matrices, with 30 point being the largest of the three sizes he offered.

Back in stock:  Sans Serif Light in 36 point, complete with the full set of Deco Alternates.  Happy Ground Hog Day to everyone.

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News for January

The Letterpress Revival continues with unabated enthusiasm, and demand for metal type remains strong.  Looking back on 2017 the records show that we cast 7,981 pounds of type in the calendar year.  Although that figure is somewhat below 2016, it’s about the same as 2015 and well in excess of every year prior to that.  And there are two good reasons why production was down from last year: first, Skyline bought some property in a nearby industrial park and we spent much of the summer preparing it for use as offsite warehouse and workshop space.  We’re out of room here at headquarters!  The second reason is the major redesign of the Skyline web site.  This was done in-house, and like everything, ended up being a much bigger job than we anticipated.  The new site went live on November 20 and performed well from the start. Our work is paying off—the number of orders that came in for the month of December on the new site was more than double the monthly average on the old one!

Production is now back to normal and we have two new items to release this month.  Collection No. 47 is the last and final set of 12 point em-body decorative elements cast from matrices acquired from a defunct foundry in India.

Border No. 1, also 12 point, is a delicate two-element Grecian pattern.

These and all our other Fonts, Borders, Collections and Initials can be viewed and impulsively purchased here on, and we invite you to do so.  Did you know that you can receive our monthly news bulletins automatically on the first of every month?  Just scroll to the foot of any page and enter your address in the Subscribe box.

Best wishes to all for a typographically exciting New Year!

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News for December

Last Monday we held our ears, pulled the trigger, and the promised new Skyline web site went live! It was a long and complicated task, and we did it in-house. It’s a state-of-the-art setup with a Wishlist, a Cart, instant online ordering and payment by credit card or PayPal, and it’s adaptable to every personal electronic device known to man. It will save your contact information and recognize you when you Log In. With the launch of this new system, Skyline will now absorb the credit card or PayPal transaction fee, and no longer add it to your order as a surcharge. And for the convenience of our international customers, the Cart automatically calculates and displays the total weight of your order. This represents a big leap forward for a business that’s a hundred years behind the times! There will be fine-tuning as we go forward, but orders are already being processed and shipped through the new site. You are invited to explore it, try it out, and send us any feedback or suggestions.

Meanwhile, back at the Foundry, the casters are still spitting out shiny new type. New for this month are Border No. 1313 in 12 point (an eye-catchy black-and-white geometric design) and Collection No. 46, yet more of those lovely and diverse 12 point em-body decorative ornaments from India.


Back in stock: Della Robbia 30 point and the neat little laurel design, Border No. 1329. Happy Winter Solstice to all and we’ll be back with more treasures for you on New Years Day.