Continuing on with our antique dingbat series, this month we present Collection No. 54, with a classical theme, and Collection No. 55, odds & ends left over from all the other themed Collections. Two more of these still to come in future months!
There are times in the typefounding business when we come face-to-face with failure. Last month a recasting of the sold-out Arboret Ornament Suite was undertaken. This was known to be a very challenging project due to the irregular nature of the matrices, but we have successfully accomplished two castings before. After investing considerable time and labor, with the end in sight, mats began to fail. (They can deteriorate from continued shots of molten metal at high temp and pressure.) With no source to have replacements made, we are forced to admit defeat. The listing has been pulled down and we cannot produce this product again. Nothing left to do but dump the completed type into the hellbox, put the calamity behind us and move on to other projects. Such is life.
Back in stock: Latin Ornate, 24pt. New postings to The Junk Bin in February totaled 28. You are cordially invited to view specimens and details of these and all our other Fonts, Borders, Initials and Collections elsewhere on this site.
We spent the month of January laboring exclusively on our series of antique typecuts, and launched the new year with Collection No. 52, Animals. All told, the project amounted to six Collections. For February here’s Collection No. 53, Manmade Objects (mostly), with the eagerly-anticipated ham roast, gaucho hat, and charter oak which were leaked on the media. Includes a nice little acorn-style printing press. The remaining four Collections are Classical Designs; Humanoids; Odds & Ends; and Wings, Wheels, Rails & Sails. These will be released in coming months.
Meanwhile our attention has turned back to the perpetual task of restocking some of the many soldouts. Presently in progress are Latin Ornate, Arboret and (gasp!) Relievo; with Sans Light and Schoeffer Old Style in the queue.
The U.S. Postal Service did not fail to enact their annual January price increase. This will drive the knife a little deeper for our overseas customers, but we’re standing firm at $10.00 flat rate postage for any order shipped anywhere in the U.S.
Eighteen new listings were posted to The Junk Bin in January, including some very rare initials and fonts that didn’t last a day! Keep an eye out, we’ve got a warehouse full of the good, the bad and the ugly and are continuously posting more.
And so we chalk up another trip around the Sun. Happy New Year, all! It was a robust year here at Skyline. Type production for 2019: 11,308 lbs. Orders filled: 549. Stock presently in the warehouse ready to ship: 34,771 lbs. And grand total production since our humble beginning in 2004 comes in at 11,980 Fonts, 5,401 Borders, 3,655 Collections, and 1,066 Initial Sets. Our sincere thanks to you our customers for your continuing business, your enthusiastic encouragement, and for stopping by to visit.
Starting off with a blast from the distant past, our first new casting for 2020 is Bruce Ornamented No. 881 in 24 point. This outrageous Victorian was issued by the Geo. Bruce Foundry in 1865, with earlier origins in France. The matrices are from the collection of Chas. Broad, who cast and sold it in the 1960s as “Circus”.
For several months now we’ve been searching the matrix vault for antique typecuts and casting all we can find for a series of Collections. For January we present the first of these, Collection No. 52, Antique Animals. Ain’t they cute? Stay tuned for more good stuff in the coming months.
We don’t normally go in for skullduggery, but here’s Border No. U-29 for all you skull fans. We were cranking out this 19th century typecut as one of the pieces in the new Collections. Our casterman T.H. was insistent that we break it out and offer it as a single-element Border also. There was some debate in the foundry on this matter; he eventually won, so for better or worse, here it is. We’re dying to see what you do with it.
Got an update on Smiley, released last month. This face has been identified as a 1975 design by French artist Claude Mayet. It was done for the French company Mecanorma, which was a major producer of dry-transfer lettering. Our thanks to Stephen Coles and Florian Hardwig on fontsinuse.com for ferreting this out.
Restocks accomplished in December are Borders No. 1424 and U-20, and Border & Ornament Grab Bags. Twenty-five more used type fonts were listed for sale in The Junk Bin. And lastly, we’ve written another article for the Best Practices page (in the About Skyline menu), this one titled Twelve Ways to Avoid Smashing Type and Other Stuff in Your Press. Enjoy.
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.
This month we offer another big, bold and bodacious antique revival in 42 point for your printing pleasure. The face may be familiar—it was cast and sold as “Bailey Shaded” by Charlie Broad in the 1960s. Where and when that name was given to it is unknown, but it originated about 1854 with the Caslon Foundry in England, as their Ornamented No. 1513. It proved up very nicely for us as is usually the case with type from pantographically-milled brass matrices. You gotta have this one.
Also new: Border No. U-27 in 36 point. A rather curious single-element border of unknown origin.
Restocks accomplished in October are Moorish + Moorish Open, Border No. U-17, and Border No. F-1631. Sixteen new listings of used type and other printing hardware were added to The Junk Bin.
Since last June’s visit to Skyline by Terrie Reddish, one of our two favorite New Zealand lady printers (yes Christina, you’re the other!), we have been engaged in an ongoing email discussion about the best/proper ways to do things. The subject of Nicks Up or Nicks Down? arose. One thing led to another and I ended up writing a presentation on the subject, and publishing it on a new page on our web site called Best Practices (found in the About Skyline menu). You’re invited to check this out, especially if you’re new to letterpress printing. And I already have notes for the next few such essays, so there’s more to come!
Dunnage. Do you know that word? I learned it from my eccentric old typographical pal J.F. Killie, who rescued the four Thompson Type Casters that I in turn rescued in 2004 when he shuffled off this mortal coil (and whence started the clock for Skyline Type Foundry). It denotes any materials used to pad or insulate merchandise in shipment. You know it as bubble wrap, packing peanuts and such. Well, here at STF we do a pretty fair amount of packing and shipping, and go through a lot of dunnage. In the past we have purchased a synthetic construction material called “rigid insulation board”, or RIB. It serves very well but is darned expensive. Lately we’ve been looking to less costly and more environmentally responsible sources, and re-purposing all kinds of stuff—including, most recently, a quantity of offcut and reject foam-rubber bra cups that arrived here as dunnage in a shipment from China. We’re also making good use of honeycomb-plastic political signs, furnished to us (after elections) by a local political volunteer. So be ready for anything when you unpack that next bomb-proof shipment of Skyline type!
This month we bring you four new items. First off, Border No. 266 and Border No. 267, both in 18 point. These two Monotype elements appear to have been cut from the same pattern and the consecutive numbers might support that theory. Monotype does not show them in combination, and they’re not cut for two-color use, but they were chosen for production by our casterman T.H. who wanted to experiment with them in chromatic composition.
Next is Border No. 1625, a delightful 3-element “starry sky”, also in 18 point. This is one of Monotype’s later designs and is not shown in their big pre-World War II specimen book, but does appear in a subsequent undated leaflet.
Lastly we are pleased to present another antique revival: Bruce Ornamented No. 5. This spectacular 1869 face is yet another from the matrix collection of Chas. Broad, who cast and offered it in the 1960s with the contrived name of Old Carnival. It predated the standard point system but fits nicely on a 42 point body. (We do not cast or sell new quads & spacing of that size, but these are readily available from our friends at M&H Type in San Francisco. For V.I.P. treatment tell ’em Skyline sent you.)
Restocks accomplished in September: Egmont Decorative Initials and Border No. U-21. There were 24 new listings posted in The Junk Bin.
Coming up on Oct. 11-13 is the fourth annual Southwest Print Fiesta in Silver City, New Mexico. It’s a lovely town and a lively event, complete with steamroller printing! Skyline set up a table there last year, but we found that it’s really more directed toward art than printing, and do not plan to attend this year. Instead we’ll be busy packing up for The Big One–International Printing Museum’s Los Angeles Printers Fair on Oct. 19-20. The Skyline crew will be there with a double table and lots of shiny new type. (Online orders placed before the 18th will be hand-delivered free; when you check out, select Local Pickup as the shipping option, and add a note reminding us to bring it to the Fair.) Full info can be found at: https://www.printmuseum.org/event/2019-los-angeles-printers-fair/ See you there!
This one’s for you, Zip Code 84214: Here’s Dormer in 18 point. Originating in 1888 with Chicago’s Great Western foundry, their successor Barnhart Bros. & Spindler renamed it Pekin and continued production into the early 20th century. This type is from the matrix fonts in the Chas. Broad collection. Partway through casting, the lowercase C mat failed catastrophically. But by pure luck one of the font’s two duplicate mats was this character, and the project was completed. Nevertheless, first proof revealed that the matrices were in poor condition; we noted at least seven characters with visible, if minor, flaws. The decision was made to go ahead and offer it for sale (with disclaimer)—but given the rundown condition and high failure probability of the mats, Dormer will not be cast again.
Also new this month is Hadriano in 24 point. Inspired by Roman inscriptions mentioning the emperor Hadrian, Frederic Goudy designed it in 1918. (Sol Hess applied tooling to the face in 1932 to create Hadriano Stone-Cut, which Skyline has also cast.) FWG was fond of the capital Q and this is one of the faces in which he provided an alternate letterform for that character. There is also a font ornament—it’s a neat little element, but seems rather odd in that while the type face is a chiseled or engraved design, the ornament is clearly calligraphic. As with our casting of the Stone-Cut, we have manually mortised the long-tailed standard Q and U to provide perfect fit. Skyline offers our most sincere thanks to Mark K in California for generously furnishing the Hadriano matrices.
And now back to the task at hand—figuring out how we’ll celebrate International Letterpress Day. (And when is that? Why, 9/18 of course!) Hey, got it! For the first time ever, Skyline will offer FREE SHIPPING (USA), one day only. Watch for a banner on the web site revealing the Coupon Code. This is the only advance notice, so write yourself a reminder!
We continue to plumb (yes, Pb pun intended!) the depths of the Charlie Broad Matrix Collection, and this month’s new typographical treasure is Vaudeville in 36 point. This face is unknown prior to Charlie’s casting of it in the 1960s. A number of his releases were apparently done from 20th century optical type faces (including our Galena Title) and there is strong evidence that this is the case with Vaudeville. There’s a fair amount in circulation within the hobby letterpress community, so it evidently it was one of his more popular types.
Also new is Piranisi Italic in 18 point, a graceful script designed in 1930 by American Type Founders. It was ostensibly a companion italic to their Piranisi (a delicate, decorative roman), but oddly, the two faces bear little or no resemblance to one another.
Our 1st-of-the-month News is normally released at the crack of dawn. This time we were delayed until afternoon—and even before noon, emails were coming in wondering Where Is It? The reason: we were scrambling to get a proof and box labels printed for our third new item, Collection No. 51, the full set of 12 Lanston Scissorcut Ornaments. Check the listing for historical details.
Restocks accomplished during July are Hadriano Stone-Cut 24pt, Massey Two-Color Initials, and Border No. G-69; with 22 new postings in The Junk Bin.
Ready for another antique revival? Here’s Thunderbird in 18pt. This big fat road hog dates back to the mid 19th century, although the precise origin is not known. We have already cast his slender cousin T-bird Extra Condensed in two sizes. Also new this month is Border No. U-23 in 12pt, one more good ‘un from the Indian matrices.
On the restock front, we now have fresh supplies on the shelf of Boston Gothic,Bewick Roman 36pt, Collection No. 48 (Decorative Dashes), Prisma, and Clematis. In a sincere but possibly futile attempt to get ahead of the power curve, a couple of these were actually recast before they sold out. (Yeah, I know, we have 40 other things that ARE sold out–we’re workin’ on it, we’re workin’ on it!) The Junk Bin saw 22 new items posted for the month.
Our young new hire Jared is fitting in well and learning the fine points of getting newly-cast type from the galleys into packaged fonts. This includes brushing off the flash (we call that “flicking boogers”), determining line breaks and transferring type between galleys to perfect that; lifting type line by line into the font boxes, inserting filler blocks, and tagging, labeling, sleeving and shrink-wrapping. And of course learning to work for a detail-obsessed boss all the while.
A high point for June was the reception and open house that Skyline threw in honor of visiting New Zealand letterpress artist Terrie Reddish, who was traveling through Arizona to see family. There was a good turnout of local letterpress folk and a fine time was had by all. We do like visitors here!
In the golden age of metal type, the big foundries had entire departments devoted to composing and printing their catalogs. These were top-quality hardbound books displaying not only specimens of all their type faces, but tasteful examples of them as they might be used. The Skyline printing office (equipped with eight platens and three cylinders) produces all our own package labels and specimen cards, as well as promotional handouts and the occasional typographic broadside or pamphlet—but our specimen book, as such, exists only on the web site. One of our best customers has been urging us to at least provide an online document that could be printed out and held in one’s hands. Setting this up proved to be relatively easy; now on the Skyline site, if you scroll down to the bottom of any product listings page, you’ll find a blue button that will generate an illustrated PDF in real time of all the products in that category. This can be viewed online, or downloaded to view or print out at your pleasure. Check it out and see if it’s something that would be useful to you.
Things are plenty busy here at Skyline! In May we signed on a new employee (for a crew of four now) and logged a very productive month. Just completed for your printing pleasure: Goudy Text Shaded in 36 point. This grand face was only cut in the one size, and it joins standard Goudy Text and the complementary Lombardic Initials (both in 48) in our product line. Also new is Border No. F-784, a single-element design in 18 point.
Have you taken a look at The Junk Bin lately? Forty-four (44) more items were posted for sale last month—used and new-old-stock type fonts, borders, dingbats and hardware. A good many of these are in Dutch Auction, where the good stuff is; prices are marked down 4% every week and the oldest listings there have come way down. In the Equipment category we listed a set of five Ludlow composing sticks; and imposing furniture with cabinets, both full and pony fonts.
It’s APA Wayzgoose month! Our chief casterman T.H. (he sez it’s for “Type High”) will be making the long road trip to Nashville and representing Skyline with a limited selection of new type. We offer FREE DELIVERY of any order to the ‘Goose: when you place your online order, just select Local Pickup as the shipping option and add a note “Deliver to Nashville Wayzgoose”, and it shall be done.
This month’s single new casting is rather modest, but here for your printing pleasure is Border No. U-25 in 12 point. It’s a classic Byzantine design and the last (for now) of our production from that fabulous trove of old foundry matrices from India.
We’re still pushing hard to get more of our numerous soldouts back into stock. In April that was accomplished with Della Robbia in 24 point (despite an undetected mold micro-failure that necessitated hand-dressing the foot of all 540 lbs of type in this casting). Also back on the shelf are Border No. U-15, and—brace yourself— Freak!
This is one of the coolest antique faces ever, originating in 1889 with the Great Western Type Foundry. That firm evolved into Barnhart Bros. & Spindler, which renamed the face Bamboo and continued to offer it well into the 20th century. The face was ditched when American Type Founders absorbed BB&S, but it was revived in the 1960s by our patron saint Chas. Broad, whose matrices we are fortunate to have in the Skyline vault. Our first casting of 50 fonts in 2012 sold briskly. A second casting ended in disaster when one of the matrices failed, and this shot the project down, since there was no source to have a new one made. That changed recently when Swamp Press (bless ’em) came to the rescue and cut a replacement for us, and another 100 fonts were successfully cast. So get one while they’re hot, and let your Freak font fly!
The big deal this month is the launch of our new category in The Junk Bin called Dutch Auction. We’ve been hoarding up the more valuable and desirable old type fonts from our treasure hunts and holding them back against the day we could set up a system to let the world at large (other than eBay) determine their fair market value—and this is it. Items are posted for sale at an admittedly optimistic price, but this decreases on a regular schedule. The first one willing to Buy-it-Now at the current price gets it! We’ve opened Dutch Auction with a bang, posting 33—count ’em, 33—items for sale; and a few have already been snarfed up even before today’s official opening. Standing bids are accepted. (Your bid will of course be absolutely confidential.) The price is marked down 4% each week—if and when it reaches the highest standing bid, the sale is closed. (If multiples are available, you may purchase one, some or all at that price each.) Check it out; this is where the Good Stuff is.
Meanwhile back at the foundry our two new items this month are Border F-1063 and Border F-1064. Both are simple 12 point Borders; the latter a single-element and the former a two-element. Good basic decorative material to have in your shop (studio, for you newbies).
And now having posted this before dawn, I’m on the road to rescue a long-lost Vandercook for restoration. But the high point for April will definitely be the Bay Area Printers Fair, hosted at History Park by the San Jose Printers Guild. This is an outstanding event that just gets better every year. Don’t miss it! Skyline will be there with several tables loaded up just short of collapse with shiny new Fonts, Borders, Collections and Initials. (Free delivery to the fair, just put in your order on skylinetype.com, select Local Pickup on shipping, and add a note to bring it to the BAPF.) See you there!
Still working from the mother lode of foundry matrices rescued from India, here’s a fine treasure: Border No. U-20. It has a corner and runner in 24 point (both of which are subtly asymmetrical), and not one, but two medallions on 48 point em-body. These elements can be used in combination to create a design that stands out among typecast piece borders as uncommonly elaborate.
Also new this month is the very robust 19th century face Staccato in 36 point, another selection from the Chas. Broad matrix collection. It complements our previous casting of this face in 24 point, and was quite a substantial project—we did up sixty fonts, totaling over 550 lbs.
Back in stock is Concave. The original Concave design included two font ornaments: a Maltese cross to be used between words, and a matched pair of decorative brackets to gussy up the line ends. Our matrix font did not include these. However, for our second casting in 2012 we searched the matrix vault and found a cross that was a very close match. Then for this, our third casting, we came up with an ornamental bracket of unknown origin ( but probably 19th century) that, while not identical to the original element, is of the perfect weight to accompany Concave and looks right at home with it. These ornaments can be seen in the specimen shown on the product listing.
Are you using P22 Blox, those scaled-up Alpha-Blox done in plastic as a collaborative project between P22 Analog and Starshaped Press? If so, you may be interested in our new wood furniture product, a set of 40 pieces cut to 6 x 6 picas that will be useful as quads in combination with P22 Blox. Or with 6-line wood type, for that matter. You’ll find this in our Products menu under Imposing Furniture.
Like any other business, Skyline gets nicked for a 3% fee when customers order by credit card or PayPal. We’d rather give that money to YOU than to them! Just select the Pay by Check option when you checkout, enter Coupon Code 3FREE and the discount will be automatically applied. This’ll cost you a stamp, but the break-even point is less than $19.00, and on a big order it could save you big bucks. (For the fine print, visit the COUPON! page on our web site.)
Logged another treasure hunt last month, this time to a very remote near-ghost town in the California desert. Came home with a full load of scrap type and rusty junk, including a Chandler & Price 8×12 press manufactured in 1900 that had been a yard ornament for the last few decades. It’s complete and has no welds or breaks. She’ll get a full restoration, Skyline-style, and will then be up for adoption. We’ll keep you posted.
As we continue on with castings from the matrices rescued from India, here’s a little cutie: Border No. U-24. This is a conventional 12 point two-element Border whose design is of unknown source, and probably has never before been available in the U.S.
It’s old. It’s tired. It’s worn. It’s incomplete. And it’s a rare historic find: Type bearing the pinmark of St. Louis Type Foundry, the very short-lived predecessor to the famous Central Type Foundry of that city. You can see this font in The Junk Bin, our used-type department, where a dozen new listings were just put up.
Postage rates have almost doubled since we began shipping type 15 years ago—but we’ve only raised our flat rate postage charge once, from $8.00 to the current $10.00. (Any order, anywhere in the U.S.A.) The U.S. Postal Service has just enacted their annual January price increase. That’s bad news for us, but not for you: we’re sticking with the current amount. Subsidizing the cost of shipping has been good business: it encourages you to place a bigger order without having to cough up any more for postage. So don’t hold back!
We had the pleasure of welcoming numerous visitors to Skyline last year. Come on out to sunny Arizona some time and we’ll roll out the red carpet for you too.
Notwithstanding our solemn promise to give more attention to restocking the soldouts and less to new castings, we have three new products to introduce this month. First and foremost: to launch this auspicious new year in style, here’s Collection No. 50, our starry salute to Chicago’s Jennifer Farrell and her Starshaped Press! Jen is renowned for the letterpress artistry she creates with metal type. In addition to being a longtime Skyline customer, she continually offers inspiration and challenge to the entire letterpress community, and to us here at the type foundry—all on the STF 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. Thus our 50th (Collection, that is) is presented in celebration of the 20th (anniversary, that is) of Starshaped Press, founded 1999. Congratulations, Jen!
In October we announced a major special commission to cast Weiss Roman in 18 point for a noted fine printer in Great Britain. That project is now complete; full fonts and lowercase supplements are in stock and available for purchase.
Continuing with decorative material cast from the matrices rescued from India, our third new item for January is Border No. U-19 in 12 point. This tidy little two-element Border is beautiful in its simplicity. (Caution, if you gaze at it too long you’ll develop an unaccountable thirst for Diet Pepsi.)
Some 20 new-old fonts were listed to The Junk Bin in December and sometimes they sell within a day. By the way, we finally got the Sort By feature straightened out and now you can view the latest additions first. Looking back on 2018, it was a record year by far at Skyline. Numerous projects are underway and in the queue for 2019, including, this month, our eighth staging of Thompson Tech, an intensive week-long training seminar in the operation, maintenance and repair of Thompson Type Casters. And yes, we did do a restock casting—Collection No. 5, the Dwiggins Abstract Florets, is back on the shelf. Thanks for your business and Happy New Year.
We continue to cast ornamental material from that treasure trove of matrices rescued from the defunct type foundry in India. This month we present Border No. U-26 in 12 point. It’s a seven-element outline design, with three different pairs of mirror-image runners and a corner that’s unique in that it’s not diagonally symmetrical. The source of this design is unknown but it seems to show influence from both the arabesque and art nouveau styles.
It’s tempting to just produce new products, but the fact is we have several dozen items that are sold out, and many more that are running low. That’s what happens when business is good—so, no complaints here! Nevertheless, we’re endeavoring to shift the balance back a little. To that end, restock castings have been done for Borders No. 245, No. 601, No. U-2 and No. U-3. All of these are now in stock and available again. Interest in The Junk Bin (our used-type department) continues to run high and 29 new listings were posted in November. (Still working on straightening out the Sort By feature on that page; it’s requiring extreme measures.)
So throw another log on the fire and enjoy your latest order of shiny new Skyline type—printing in a snug shop on a snowy day is as good as it gets (excepting you high summer folks Down Under!). Catch you again on New Years Day.
Treasure Hunt! Those of us in the letterpress community who have been active collectors for a long time have lots of stories about the old shops we’ve closed out, and the treasures we’ve found. (Ask RvH to tell you the Amboy story sometime.) I myself have cleared out more dim, dusty, junk-strewn rooms full of type and equipment than I ever stopped to count. A family member wants to empty Grandpa’s garage so they can sell the house, or a building’s been sold and the owner’s gotta get all that rusty old printing junk out by the end of the month, or a printer friend moves on to the next world and the widow’s looking up the number of the nearest scrap metal yard. That unexpected phone call gets the heart pumping, and you immediately start clearing the calendar so you can hit the road in a rental truck and swoop in for the rescue. It’s hard, filthy and exhilarating work.
One good’n was an old newspaper office in the near-ghost town of Baylis, Illinois. The place looked like 1930, with a Linotype, rare C&P cylinder press, and ancient Stonemetz flatbed newpaper press. (I left that.) Treasures found there included an 1895 ATF/Central type specimen book, and a heavy rectangular block that had been used forever as an ink mixing slab—it turned out to be the marble tombstone of a 6-year-old boy born in 1851. When Skyline relocated from Illinois to Arizona in 2011, I figured the treasure hunts were probably over, but the best one was yet to come! It was a private junkyard in the old mining town of Globe, Arizona, where in multiple trips we hauled out four presses, eleven cabinets of type and lots of other stuff.
Last month, after road trips to the Southwest Print Fiesta and L.A. Printers Fair, I launched for Colorado to drag out twelve cabinets of type from the old Silverton Standard newspaper building. Driving an overloaded Penske truck over not one but two 10,000+ft passes, on a two-lane road with few guardrails, added some adrenalin to that one! This and other trips have landed many thousands of pounds of used type in our warehouse. All will be carefully evaluated and sent to either the caster, for reincarnation into new type, or the Skyline web site for sale in The Junk Bin (to which 19 new listings have just been added today).
With all that travelin’ we’ve gotten about half a cycle out of sync on production—some of October’s new releases aren’t even fonted up yet, and we have to scramble to fill orders. Several new projects have been cast. But to help us get caught up, we’re releasing just one of them for November:Border No. E-1348in 18pt. This is another English Monotype design by Jack Townend, a companion to the E-Border we released in August. Enjoy. —Sky
If you keep an eye on the Skyline web site, you’ve noticed the tally figures at the bottom of the front page indicating how many Fonts, Borders, Initials and Collections we have produced since our beginning. Last month, after updating these with the new releases, the Fonts total came in at 9,999. This means that the very first font to be turned out this month is number Ten Thousand! Who’d a thunk it back in 2004 when Sky, our—uh—founder, took in several forlorn old typecasting machines to rescue them from an ignominious fate, and began tinkering with one. At this auspicious milestone, we offer our sincere gratitude to the Letterpress Community for your patronage and ongoing appreciation of our efforts.
As mentioned last month, we’ve been casting Bernhard Fashion in 24 point to complement our existing 18 point font and 42/36 Initials. That project is now complete and type is available for purchase.
Meanwhile, work continues on casting from the large lot of matrices obtained a couple of years ago from a defunct type foundry in India, and here are two more new ornamental borders from that treasure trove. First, Border No. U-21, a three-element certificate border that can be composed either as 24 point or 48 point. It’s a compelling design with distinct art-nouveau styling, and invites experimental composition. Pick up a font or three and give it a try!
And our casterman was so taken by the 48 point em-body corner that he persuaded Skyline management to spin it off by itself as a single-element border. Thus we also present Border No. U-17 for your printing pleasure.
Weiss Roman. A well-known British fine printer, one of our good customers, has dropped us a major commission for this book face in 18 point, and sent a font of Intertype matrices from which to cast it. If you want some foundry-cast Weiss, now is your golden opportunity; let us know ASAP and we’ll work out the details. The Intertype mats will be for sale afterward as well—full font, new condition. Email if interested.
October will be a travelin’ month for us. On the first weekend we’ll be setting up shop at the Southwest Print Fiesta in Silver City, New Mexico. This is the event’s third year and our first time there; from all indications it should be a lot of fun. Check it out at www.southwestprintfiesta.org. Then the following weekend is the incomparable Los Angeles Printers Fair staged by the International Printing Museum (https://www.printmuseum.org/events/). They too have a milestone (10th Annual) and are celebrating it by expanding the Fair to two full days. Bravo!
We’ll be glad to provide free type delivery to either of these events. Just place your order on skylinetype.com and add a note to that effect. Happy printing, and hope to see you at our table!
Always drawn to the odd, unique and archaic in our matrix vault, this month we present a face you’ve probably never heard of: Granby Inlined, in 24pt. Granby was a product of England’s historic Stephenson-Blake type foundry and the Inlined version was released in 1932. There’s nothing too unusual about inline or tooled letterforms, but this one is a little different in that the lines continue past the end of the stems and go right on out into the world at large. Betcha don’t have it, and here’s your golden opportunity to fix that.
Several months ago we came out with Bernhard Fashion in 18 point, and it was so well received we decided to keep riding that horse and do the other two sizes for which we have matrices. The 24 point font is now in progress and slated for release next month. Meanwhile, feast your eyes on Bernhard Fashion Initials, 42-on-36pt, complete with alternates! These delicate, opulent letters will give the finishing touch to your formal printing with the smaller sizes of Bernhard.
Just posted yesterday: 20 new old type fonts to The Junk Bin. Still trying to get the “Sort By” function working on the web site, but the harder we try, the more intractable it is. The new items are placed at the beginning of the listings, but the software seems to have a mind of its own and they may turn up somewhere else.
Of Skyline’s four type sales categories (Fonts, Borders, Initials, Collections), the slimmest by far is Initials, with only six different sets to choose from—until now, that is. This month we introduce Ataraxy Initials in 36 point. The truth is that they happened by accident: our casterman received routine orders for a restock of the ever-popular Massey Initials, and he inadvertently drew the wrong set of matrices from the vault. By the time this was realized, the project was well underway. So he changed his story to “I meant to do that!” and thus we have something new to offer you. These elegant little floral letterforms were given only a number by Lanston Monotype, their manufacturer. Oddly, the same number was assigned to a completely different set of initials cut only in 24 point. To avoid confusion we elected to give them a name. (Boo-Boo was nearly selected, but lost out to Ataraxy.)
But of course there’s more. And like a couple of other recent Skyline items, this one represents new territory for us. Behold Border No. E-1346 in 18 point: our first Border to be cast from English Monotype matrices (yep, that’s what the E represents). And we are fortunate enough to know the designer and time frame, thanks to our friends at Red Eel Press in England. This border was designed by Jack Townend and released by the [English] Monotype Corporation in 1958. Townend, who was born in Bingley, West Yorkshire, taught graphic design, lithography and printmaking at the Ruskin School of Art at the time he designed this and certain other decorative elements for Monotype (1952-1961). Townend is also known for writing and illustrating a number of children’s books. This peculiar artistic style of stark geometric solids and lines surely must have a name, and here in the U.S., at least one of the linecaster companies cut a fair number of border/ornament elements in that style. If any of you art historians out there in letterpress-land can shed some light on this, we’re anxious to hear from you.
Just returned from a major mission to southern California where we bought out the entire type holdings of a long-time fine printer: some 521 fonts of book, classic and antique revival faces. You may expect this to start showing up in The Junk Bin, available for purchase, as we undertake the long process of evaluating and fonting this treasure trove. We’re really in the used-type business now!
Just back from a fine time at the APA Wayzgoose, and three cheers for the Denver letterpress community for a bang-up job on staging it. Typecasting resumes as usual now, and in the foundry we’re sweating out Prescott’s hottest time of the year and looking forward to the arrival of our cooler rainy season sometime this month.
For July we’re pleased to present yet another antique revival: Old Boweryin 30 point. According to McGrew in American Metal Typefaces, it was released by the Bruce type foundry in 1854 as Ornamented No. 1007. This is one of the few antique revival faces produced by American Type Founders in the 20th century, and now it’s alive and well once again in the 21st!
Also new, here’s something we’ve never offered before: linecast Ornamental Dashes. Check out Collection No. 48, with nine different Dashes, and Collection No. 49, with twelve. There are five of each Dash per Collection, for a total of 45 pieces and 60 pieces, respectively. Just imagine all the uses these will have in your shop.
The Junk Bin continues to enjoy good popularity; a bunch more used type fonts were thrown in at the end of June. We’re working on a way for newest items to be displayed first (or give you sort options), but that’s been problematical We shall prevail. Meanwhile a fourth product category has been added—Equipment—for various other new and used letterpress hardware, including a Pilot press and the new Skyline Roller Keepers. We got lots of that kind of stuff and will be populating the new category with it.
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: Staccatoin 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!)
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.
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: https://vimeo.com/263582214. If that doesn’t get a smile out of you, then you’d better check to make sure you have a pulse!
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.
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!
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 calledThe Junk Binhas 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.
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.
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 skylinetype.com, 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!
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.
Another new moon, another new casting from Skyline. Behold Collection No. 43: a set of twelve different ornaments, all cast on 12pt em-body, from a bunch of old foundry matrices recently obtained from India. The source of these designs is not known but some of the other matrices in this fortuitous acquisition were the Primula Ornaments originating with Typefoundry Amsterdam. These elements are quite possibly from there also, or English Monotype. The Indian-made mats are rather irregular but we’re making the best of them.
Back in stock (finally!) is Crayonette in 12pt. This project was begun over a year and a half ago and proved to be very challenging. Most of the first production was rejected due to inconsistent alignment, which was traced to a small broken internal part in the casting machine’s matrix holder. There were further problems with the makeup production and some of that had to be rejected. But eventually we prevailed, as we usually do, and now there are 50 new fonts on the shelf ready to go. (Zip Code 25550, are you there?)
We do normally produce more than this in a month’s time. Much of our labors in October were invested in a major overhaul of the Skyline web site. Dinosaurs though we are (living and working quite happily amidst early 20th-century machinery), it has not escaped our notice that the rest of the world is barreling headlong into the future–and that many of our customers increasingly live their lives through small hand-held electronic devices. Though our present web site was launched only two years ago, and was a vast improvement over the original do-it-yourself mashup it replaced, the time has come to make Skyline accessible via the technology of the day, complete with an electronic shopping cart. (A sneak preview was leaked on Facebook and received a surprising amount of good press.) The new site is in the final stages of development and we plan to pull the trigger some time this month. Stay tuned for an unscheduled announcement.
Fresh off the caster, another 19th century gem from the Charlie Broad matrix collection: French Clarendon Extended, in 6 point. Here, let me save you the trouble– “Six point!?!? Why the heck would they cast that in such a small, useless size!?” The answer is, that’s the one and only size in which dear old Charlie made matrices for this face. At Skyline we are determined to cast every face in the collection, so it was either now or later. In planning this project we figured nobody would ever want to set it solid in 6 point (except maybe NRBY, but we all know he’s crazy), so it’s cast on 12 point body for ease of composition.
We also present Border No. U-7, in 12 point, for your printing pleasure. The runner element was a stray matrix of unknown origin and we selected the em-body solid diamond as a corner to complement it.
Clear the road, we’re packin’ up the ol’ Typemobile for a run to the 9th Annual Los Angeles Printers Fair! It will be held Saturday, October 14 at the famous International Printing Museum in Carson–it’s huge, don’t miss it. Full info can be found at printmuseum.org/printersfair. Stop by our tables, say hello, and take home some shiny new type.
This month we are pleased to present the fruit of labors begun here back in the late spring. The University of California is doing a project involving hand-press reproductions of 17th-century English ballad broadsides, and contacted Skyline in search of type. We were fortunate to have Cloister Black in the matrix vault, which very closely matched the face originally used, and doubly fortunate to have matrices for special characters, including German accents and the archaic long-s and its ligatures. A commission ensued and we did full-font castings in both 14and 24 point. Here’s the 14:
In the larger size there are two different variants of the archaic specials: lining and descending.
Altogether the font contains 102 characters. The casting of 70 fonts took 10 full days and amounted to 42,656 individual types with a total weight of 574 lbs. We now have plenty of both sizes on the shelf, should you have an urge to do up Shakespeare or other material from that era. Here’s the 24.
Just back from a successful mission to the Wayzgoose in L.A., where type sales at the Swap Meet were good. Our southwest heat wave finally broke in mid-July and the rainy season commenced—the most glorious time of year here. Didn’t get back to casting right away though, because Skyline has acquired some offsite storage/workshop property and we needed to do some work on that to prepare it for use. It’s located in nearby Grapevine Industrial Park. To commemorate our expansion, for August we present Border No. 675, a two-element grapevine design in 18pt. (Price Code D)