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News for August

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!

Back in stock: Cordon, Border No. 273, and Collection No. 11.

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News for July

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 Bowery in 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.

Back in stock: Runic Condensed in 30 point.

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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.

https://www.ebaymainstreet.com/petition/internet-sales-tax-sellers?utm_campaign=2018-US-IST-Petition&utm_source=marketing-email-seller&utm_medium=email

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:

http://2018wayzgoose.apa-letterpress.com/

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!

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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 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!

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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.

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News for November

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.

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News for October

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.

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News for September

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 14 and 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.

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News for August

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)

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News for July

We’ve been standing down from foundry operations for a couple of weeks now, due to unrelenting heat.  Prescott is in Arizona’s central highlands, and at 5400 ft elevation, we don’t often get temps over 90.  But there’s been a record string of 100+ degree days, and that ain’t no kinda weather for typecasting!  Then the Goodwin Fire struck 25 miles south of here.  Our casterman T.H. lives down that way and was ordered to evacuate.  As of today it’s still burning, but the army of firefighters has mostly gained control and it should all be over pretty soon.

We were able to complete one new project before all of the above; an example of the “Egyptian” faces that enjoyed great popularity in the mid-19th century.  It’s cast from matrices in the Charlie Broad collection.  He called it Egyptian Shaded Extended, but you won’t find it in any old specimen books.  In researching it, the trail ultimately led to Dan Solo, who in the late 20th century created popular optical fonts from a multitude of type faces old and new.  The evidence indicates that these mats were cut from Solo’s face named Galena.  A lowercase is shown for it, but those mats were not cut, so we’re calling it Galena Title (24pt).

We’ll be back in production when conditions permit, and keep on delivering the good stuff.  Meanwhile, come July 20, Pack Your Box With Five Dozen Liquor Jugs and head to California for the 2017 APA Wayzgoose  at the International Printing Museum!  It’s open to all friends of letterpress.  Skyline will be there presenting a hands-on Typecasting Seminar and of course peddling all manner of shiny new type at the Swap Meet.  Everything you need to know is online at www.apawayzgoose.com.  (BTW we have an extra bunk at Motel 6 available—send an email if you’d like to roomshare.)  See you there!

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News for June

It seems like we spend half our time doing maintenance, repairs and problem-solving to keep these venerable old casters running—but every month we manage to have something worthwhile to show for it.  So let’s go railroadin’! In Collection No. 44 we present that famous old Figgins train, as shown in the 1887 specimen of England’s type foundry by that name.  There are two sizes of it (24 & 30pt) in the Collection.  They are identical in design except that in the smaller size the locomotive has been reversed and is now westbound.  Lots of multiples for each piece.

On the next track we find Collection No. 45: eight different locomotives, all 19th century, and again plenty of multiples.


For printing your tickets and timetables, here’s 18 point Pacific, a delightful Victorian released by American Type Founders in 1892, their first year in existence as an amalgamation of numerous regional foundries.

At Skyline we have never linked or endorsed any other business on our web site.  But there’s a first time for everything, and Josef Beery’s little Book Beetle is so —uh,—impressive, that we can’t help but urge you to check it out.  It’s a neat little tabletop wooden hand press that he has designed, put into production, and is selling quite reasonably.  (This was brought to our attention by a customer who pointed out that he was recommending Skyline type in the Book Beetle instruction manual.)  When you have a minute, take a look at his cool web site, www.bookbeetlepress.com, and we’ll see you next month.

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News for May

This month we took a diversion from our usual obsession with antique revivals and made a foray into the typographically fertile land of pre-Nazi Germany—and came back with Homewood in 36pt for your printing pleasure.  This unique face originated as a variant of Metropolis, which is a classic example of the forward-looking and rapidly-changing design styles happening in Germany at that time.  The matrices used for this casting are those of the recutting of Metropolis Lined done by Baltotype in the 1940s.

Back in stock by popular demand: Keynote in 24 pt and Della Robbia 18pt.

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News for April

Times being what they are, it seems only appropriate for us to offer something peculiarly suited to all our left-leaning printer friends.  Behold: 24pt  Delraye,  a face that goes all the way back to the days of Whigs and Mugwumps (the philosophies of which could also be viewed as strangely apropos these days!). This backslanted, oblique, shadowed face actually originated with the Figgins type foundry in England.  You can use it to print titles on manifestos, petitions, and propaganda leaflets.   Tories be warned—don’t stare at it too long or you might start listing to port.

Moreover, furthermore, and withal, say hello to another 19th century face,  Thunderbird Extra Condensed  in 48pt. This being the largest size we are able to produce at Skyline, it complements our previous casting of T-bird XC in 36.  Plenty of both are in stock.

Our third new item this month is  Collection No. 42.  It’s an array of stuff specific to the printing craft, including a gaggle of those cute little colonial printers.  And there are a couple of things in here just for our Canadian friends.

Happy Spring—the days are growing longer, and time is running out on your excuse that it’s too cold in the shop to print!

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News for March

Last month’s Border No. U-6 has been positively identified by one of our sharp customers as Element #26 of the Central Type Foundry’s spectacular Floriated Border, as shown in their 1892 specimen.  Thanks, Laura.

For this month’s new font we present Figaro in 36pt.  Better known in the U.S. as “Old Towne”, it was a 1940 design from British Monotype.  The face is one more version of French Clarendon Condensed which was enormously popular in the mid-19th century—and now for us in America, it’s strongly reminiscent of the old west.

Back in stock: Cloister Old Style 18pt and Arboret No. 2, 24pt.

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News for February

Fun with Explosives!  That’s what we’re calling Collection No. 40, new this month for your convenience in blowing things up.   And we’ve done three more new borders in the Floor-Sweepings-From-The-Matrix-Vault Series: Border No. U-6, a single-element antique floral (there’s undoubtedly a story behind this; perhaps it’s one piece of an elaborate 19th-century ornamental set).  Border No. U-15 is a dainty little thing that looks delicate but is a single element, 6 x 36 points, easy to compose.  And then there’s the heavy-handed Border No. U-16 in 36pt, also one element.  Attila the Hun used this one on his wedding invitation.

Back in stock after too long an absence is the favorite antique Tuscan Graille.  Press on, and have a fine Ground Hog Day!

 

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News for January

We’re calling this month’s new stuff “Floor Sweepings from the Matrix Vault”.   Collections No. 37, 38, 39, and 41 all consist of single-element ornaments, oddballs, orphans, and designs that just don’t fit in with anything else we have.  No. 37 was done from four matrices we got from a defunct foundry in India, including a lotus blossom, their version of a hippie-flower, and Ganesha, the Hindu elephant-god who is revered as the remover of obstacles and patron of new beginnings, and of letters and learning.  The three calligraphic flourishes in No. 38 are actually ATF designs.  The other ornate decorators probably originated with 19th-century type faces, and that sine wave is likely a chemical or mathematical symbol.  The special-occasion goodies in No. 39 are matrices from Barco Type, which Skyline bought out some years ago.  In No. 41 you can figure out for yourself what they are and what to do with them.  The two martinis could be overprinted chromatically.  Here’s your chance to get creative!

 

Back in stock now is the very popular Tuscan Floral in 36 point.  (That ornate end-bracket in Collection No. 38 would go beautifully with it.)

From the beginning, our philosophy at Skyline has been to preserve and perpetuate the ancient and esoteric craft of typefounding, and to keep new type within reach of all in the letterpress community.  In general our prices have been about half of those of our friends at M&H Type, the country’s oldest and largest foundry.  As 2016 draws to a close, however, the numbers reveal that our costs have exceeded revenue for the year.  Therefore the current revision of our online Specimen Book & Catalog reflects an incremental price increase.  We sincerely thank all our customers for your continued friendship and loyalty.

And so commences another loop around the sun in our Spaceship Earth, the 2017th since counting began.  May it be a journey of fellowship, successes and our best printing ever!

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News for December

Our two press-restoration projects have been successfully completed and as of yesterday, the business of typecasting has resumed.  In progress at the moment is a restock of Tuscan Floral.  While doing up a routine third casting of Border No. 88, casterman T.H. Groves let his imagination get loose and started talking about what one might do design-wise with this two-element border, especially if there were multiple complementary sizes at hand.  It is, after all, a modular sort of thing, which of course is all the rage in metal type right now!  So in addition to the 36-point restock, we hereby present Border No. 88 and Border No. 89 in 18-point.  (The single element No. 89 is simply the corner piece used with No. 88.)  You can see our experimentation with it for the label, but that only suggests what could be created with a supply of the three borders in two sizes.   Who wants to be the first to try it?

December is upon us, the cooler weather is good for typecasting, and we have an endless list of cool stuff to cast going into the new year.  As always, so many matrices, so little time!

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News for November

We’ve slacked off from typecasting of late, to direct our time and efforts to working on machinery.  In addition to bringing another casting machine up to operating condition (not quite there yet) we’re doing complete restorations of two presses: a 1954 Vandercook No. 4 and a 1901 Chandler & Price 8 x 12.  These were both rescued here in Arizona from distressed situations—the C&P was holding up a mailbox out on a nearby highway!  Nevertheless we continue our longstanding policy of presenting at least one new casting every month.  So for your printing pleasure, November’s offering is Border No. F-1202 in 36pt.

border-f-1202

Some years ago we cast Neuland and its companion Inline in a variety of sizes.  They sold well, and supplies were exhausted within a couple of years.  They’re long overdue for restock and this month we’re pleased to announce Neuland 24pt and Neuland Inline 18pt as the first two.  Also back in stock is Collection No. 3, a rather remarkable set of six “stacking” ornaments, each of which is furnished in both decorative and solid versions, allowing for chromatic use
if you so choose.

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News for October

This will be brief, and a couple of days early, because we’re launching early tomorrow morning for the Los Angeles Printers Fair.  It’s gotta be the single largest Letterpress event in the country, and nothing short of spectacular!  Skyline will be on deck with our full line of Fonts, Borders, Initials and Collections. Full info is available at:

http://www.printmuseum.org/printersfair/general-information

Hope to see you there!

New for this month is Border No. G-24, a big frilly 2-element thing.  And back in stock is the ever-popular Motto.  Press on—

border-g-24

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News for September

In developing the intricate Alpha-Blox presentation box over the past few months, we gained a fair amount of woodworking experience.  And this has led to the realization that it would be comparatively easy to produce the wooden item that printers use most: imposing furniture.  So as of this month, we do!
It’s kiln-dried birchwood, precision cut, sanded, and hand-rubbed with boiled linseed oil.  The length of each piece is stamped on the end.  This is the way it was done in the old days, and the tradition is carried on at Skyline.  You can get
a single piece or a full set—see the new Furniture page for details.

But we’re still a type foundry, first and foremost.  New this month is a face so rare it’s not even shown in McGrew: Caption in 30pt. Introduced around 1940 by Mergenthaler Linotype, it was not a success, and quickly fell into obscurity.  I’ll bet even Rick von Holdt doesn’t have this one.

Caption

Leaves, leaves, and more leaves!  Just in time for autumn (or spring, depending on your hemisphere and ink color), we invite you to have a maple-leaf-fest with our new 36pt Border No. F-1631.  Or bury yourself in oak leaves and acorns with 24pt Border No. G-69, and let your significant other try to figure out which nut is you.  Lastly, Border No. F-1617: this elegant 24pt three-piece foliage border was designed by Rudolph Ruzicka to go with his Fairfield type face.  Skyline salutes John Horn who made this one possible by furnishing the matrices.

Border F-1631

Border G-69

Border F-1617

Celebrate International Letterpress Day on 9/18—print something!

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News for August

We often get requests to cast this or that typeface.  Sometimes the matrices are in our vault, sometimes not—sometimes we can take on a custom project, and sometimes we decline.  The request most often received is for a certain set of combinable decorative elements produced in the 1940s by American Type Founders.  I had no idea whether these matrices had survived the 1992 ATF liquidation auction, and if so, where they were—and up until recently, Skyline did not have the necessary hardware to produce type from ATF’s style of foundry mats.  Then I became aware that the mats had in fact survived, and were safe in the collection of a longtime friend and fellow typefounder.  This gentleman graciously agreed to make them available.  Casting proved to be a major undertaking, and we’ve been working on it in deep secrecy for several months.
But the curtain can now be raised, and we proudly roll out Alpha-Blox in 36pt.

Coll 34-11

Coll 34-13

It was understood from the beginning that a product this extraordinary called for very special packaging, something like a treasure chest.  We have two Hammond Glider saws in our shop and I had often toyed with the idea of using this precision instrument to replicate the finger-jointed wooden accessory boxes that originally came with our Thompson Type Casters.  So I proceeded to sketch out some ideas and do a little experimenting.  Many days and many buckets of discarded box parts later, I had what I considered an acceptable prototype.  More refined examples followed, and the process was captured in full detail to enable quantity production.  The finished product is a felt-lined birchwood box, 7½ x 13½ inches, with brass hinges and latch, and gold foil-stamped legend.  To the left and right sides of the type are compartments where quotation quads (not included) may be kept for use in composition, with each side able to accommodate 26 em-body quads.  A card is furnished, printed on Skyline’s 1890 Chandler & Price press, that shows all the various elements and their layout (yep, just like Whitman’s chocolates).  The box and contents weigh in at 15¾ lbs.

Coll 34-14

A link to ATF’s original 1944 specimen may be found on the Type & Borders page.  Alpha-Blox were made in three sizes, of which this is the largest.  They consist of two different sets of designs: the Linear, with 19 elements, and the Reverse, with 23.  These are all represented in the Skyline set in the exact proportions that were used by ATF, with a total count of 220 pieces.

Pricing for the Alpha-Blox Boxed Set is $295.00.  Purchasers have the option of adding a second full set of type, packed in bulk, for a total price of $495.00.  (Due to the amount of time and labor involved in fabrication, there is a limit of one boxed set per person until we’re sure we can keep up.)

Back in stock: Grimaldi in 24pt.

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Closed June 19 – July 3 for the Wayzgoose!

Skyline is closed while we’re on the road to the St. Louis Wayzgoose, and hauling in a couple of truckloads of type metal after that.  Orders and emails sent during this time will be attended to promptly when we reopen.  Meanwhile, several worthy casting projects are well underway, and we’ll have news when our regular first-of-the-month announcements resume on August 1.

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More on Border No. U-14

And this just in from David Wakefield (great info, thanks David!):

Border U-14 is from the original 3-piece (Rose) ‘Flower’ No 6, engraved in the Double Pica size at the Fry Foundry in Bristol during the latter half of the eighteenth century. It descended through several acquisitions to Stephenson Blake where eventually, in 1922, it was revived as unit No 502 in a collection entitled ‘Eighteenth Century Flowers & Borderings’ made up mostly from their inherited matrices. It survived into the 70s as Miscellaneous Border 326/502.

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News for June

We are indebted to the inimitable Graham Moss for this month’s new gem, Border No. U-14.  Quite some time ago, Graham very generously sent a set of three antique foundry matrices to Skyline for us to evaluate for casting.  It was determined that they would have to be re-engineered in order for us to cast them.  After lengthy consideration of all possibilities, this was carefully accomplished, and 50 fonts were produced.  It may be that there were other elements to the design besides these.  The source of the border and the mats is unknown, but Graham does have some type from them bearing the Stephenson-Blake pinmark.  If you can make a positive ID, do let us know and we’ll publish it.

Border U-14

But wait, there’s more!  By special request we present the Granjon Arabesque Fleurons in 18pt.  These six versatile ornaments have classical beauty and can be combined in as many ways as you can imagine; we have shown just a few here in the form composed to print the box label:

Collection 035

Our third and final new casting for this month is Border No. G-20 in 24pt.  Back in stock again are Dresden, Tangier, Umbra, Border U-9 and Collection No. 10.  So get printing, and we’ll see you soon at the APA Wayzgoose in St. Louis!  (See http://2016wayzgoose.apa-letterpress.com/ for details.)

Border G-020

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News for May

Here’s a new 19th century revival that’s a must-have: Thunderbird Extra Condensed in full-face 36pt.  Dating to about 1860, it was the quintessential type of the Civil War and the Old West.  Imagine all the fun you could have
with a font (or two).

Thunderbird XC 36

Now jumping ahead seventy years, Monotype came out with a new variation on one of their existing faces, with a name that exemplifies the style trend of the day—Streamline.  We are pleased to offer a new casting of this eye-grabbing type in 36pt (the only size ever cut).  The design consists of only the 26 capitals.

Streamline

And we’ve saved what may be the best for last: we are proud to present as Collection No. 36 the complete set of all 22 Primula Ornaments in 12 pt.  These lovely decorative elements were designed by Typefoundry Amsterdam about 1950 and cast in three sizes; this is the second-largest.  Use singly, use in lines as border, use in creative combinations.  Do not overuse.

Collection 036

All of the above are on the shelf and ready to ship—and as always, we’re busy working on more great projects this month.  Press on.

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News for April

Good, bad, or ugly, it was a historic type face: released in Germany by Bauer Foundry in the 1920s, it was met with acceptance in the USA and arguably triggered the subsequent rise to primacy of the plain gothics–Spartan, Airport, 20th Century, Helvetica.   For April we present  Futura in 18 point.

Futura

Ready for a shot of border euphoria?  Pick up the new Border U-4, hot off the caster!  The origin of this striking and refreshing 14 point design is unknown, but the unfinished electrodeposited matrices came from the estate of Paul Hayden Duensing.  We finished them up by careful hand-lapping and took them into production.  A European design, perhaps?  If anyone can identify the source of this border, by all means let us know so we can give proper historical credit.

Border U-4

And while on that size we did up three new Monotype designs as well: Borders No. 117, 1424, and 1425.  The first two of these are single-element borders, and we invite you to check out the different effects achieved in the specimens just by using multiple orientations of the type.

Border 0117

Border 1424

Border 1425

We were caught with our pants down (uh, typographically speaking, that is) last year when our 16pt Jessen Schrift sold out before it was even released.  So we’ve done a second casting and it’s now back in stock—yes, with lowercase supplements available too.

And now it’s time to pack our box with five dozen liquor jugs and head for the Bay Area Printers Fair on Saturday, April 9.  This growing event was excellent last year, and we’ll be there with plenty of new type for sale.  For details go to the San Jose Printers Guild at https://printersguild.wordpress.com/.  See you there!

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News for March

In our never-ending quest to revive history’s rare, obscure, and unusual type faces, we’re proud to present a casting of  Card Italic  in its centennial year.  This novelty face was issued in 1915 by the Mergenthaler Linotype Company as (according to McGrew) a copy of Amsterdam’s Ella Italic.  We hope it will find a warm welcome in 21st century letterpress.  Being a face that no reasonable person would set in all-capitals, the font scheme is biased toward fewer caps and more lowercase.  (This is a Skyline innovation without precedent at any other type foundry, to our knowledge.)

Card Italic

By popular demand we have done another run of Jessen Schrift in 16pt.  Full fonts and lowercase supplements will both be available (and of course will align with the previous casting).  This is completed but not yet packaged, so it won’t be available for purchase until April—but we want to give you a heads-up and get the word out so you can plan accordingly.  We’re trying to get ahead of the curve and do restock castings before an item is sold out, and several borders that were running low had proactive recastings in February.

The sun is warm here in Arizona, the sky blue, and the fruit trees surrounding the foundry building are in full bloom.  We have exciting new projects planned for this year, as well as trips to four Printer’s Fairs.  Happy Spring!

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News for February

Last month we diverted a fair amount of time and attention to engineering
and repair of the machinery, but still got a couple of castings done.  We offer  Collection No. 30:  a company or so of doughboys, and some flags, in observance of the centennial of the Great War.  Have your own private army!   And  Cochin 24pt  is back in stock.

Now the bad news.   The US Postal Service implemented a fairly hefty price increase in January.   About a decade ago, when Flat Rate Boxes were first introduced, Skyline adopted a flat rate shipping policy—any order, anywhere in the USA, for $8, which is what an FRB cost to mail at that time.   Despite annual postage increases, we have NEVER raised our flat shipping charge.   (International orders go at actual cost.)  Our philosophy is to keep it simple for our customers and subsidize the cost, and that has been good business.   Well folks, something’s gotta give eventually, and that time has come.   Effective today the domestic flat shipping charge is $10.00—and that’s still several dollars below our cost.  So take advantage of this subsidized shipping and
send us a big order!

The Mono-Blox we released in December has been extraordinarily popular.  Stock is down to 24 fonts and may sell out, so don’t delay.   And we have plenty more good stuff planned for this year, so stay tuned.

Collection 030

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News for January

Our first casting for the new year 2016 has a story behind it. When I was a kid growing up in Boulder, Colorado, my father had a small store-front printing shop with handset type, platen job presses, and one small offset press. He sold it before I was old enough to do anything but get underfoot, but we had a Kelsey 5×8 and a few fonts of utility type at home, and in 1962 that’s where I began my lifelong love affair with letterpress printing.

One of the things knocking around the shop was some correspondence between Dad and a man named Charles Broad, who called himself “Mr. Antique”, and was casting revivals of old type faces from the 19th century under his business name Typefounders of Phoenix. Now in those days, typographical styles were very austere, favoring plain gothics like Spartan and Helvetica.  I spent hours marveling over the dozens of elaborate, ornate and bizarre fonts on Charlie’s specimen sheet.  In my daydreams, I imagined that if I could have just one, it would be Argent.

Dad never did buy any of the type. Charlie died in 1965 and Typefounders of Phoenix ceased to exist–but fortunately the matrix collection survived, passing to Los Angeles Type Founders and then Barco in Chicago. Now here it is more than half a century later, and in some kind of living fantasy, I find myself the de facto heir of Charlie Broad. Having established my own type foundry, and later succeeded in buying out Barco, the entire Phoenix matrix library is now in our vault. This legacy is something we have taken very seriously, proceeding to cast the antique type faces where Charlie left off.  Meanwhile the Letterpress Revival has flourished, and with it a fascination with the type faces of old.

And so the fullness of time has come and Skyline is proud to present a casting of Argent in 24pt. Issued by Cleveland Type Foundry in 1883, no face more perfectly exemplifies the typographical trends of the late 19th century: elaborate, florid, and shaded, it includes logotypes and arabesque ornaments specific to the face.  If this one doesn’t stir your interest, then you’re a typographical philistine!

Argent

But we didn’t stop to congratulate ourselves for long.  Also new this month is Charcoal in 24pt, a novelty face released in 1899 by Keystone Type Foundry. You are cordially invited to view specimens and details of these and all our other Fonts, Borders, Initials and Collections in the newly updated Specimen Book & Catalog.

Happy New Year from the Skyline crew.

Charcoal

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News for December

Sometime back in the 1930s, Monotype had the bright idea of offering a set of six (6) matrices to make 12 point type in geometric solids that could be combined to build rudimentary letterforms in 60 point.  This project immediately disappeared into oblivion, but it may have inspired ATF’s later invention of Alpha-Blox, a product that was both successful and far more sophisticated.  At Skyline we get regular inquiries about the Alpha-Blox, but alas, without the matrices, we are of course unable to cast them.  It did, however, cause us to go back and look at the forgotten Monotype mats in a different way.  The use of modular “blox” to build both letterforms and decorative designs seems to be growing in popularity right now, thanks in large part to the phenomenal letterpress artwork of Jen Farrell at Starshaped Press in Chicago.  So we did a methodical search of the matrix vault, and came up with not only the original six mats, but 12 other compatible mats for geometric solid elements.  Thus began a project that took the self-evident name “Mono-Blox”.  Jen graciously agreed to collaborate with Skyline on this, so once casting was all completed, the project was handed off to Starshaped to design and print the labels and specimen cards.  Today we officially unveil  Collection No. 29, Mono-Blox!  (Orders are now being accepted, and will be shipped once fonting and packaging are completed, sometime next week.)

Monoblox Specimen act size

 

But wait, there’s more!  We also present a new antique revival, Tuscan Ornate, in 24pt.  This classic 19th century face originated in England about 1850.  And back in stock is McMurtrie Title, 24pt.  We did a capitals-only casting of this quite rare font some years ago, but now are able to offer the full title font of caps, points and figures.

Tuscan Ornate

McMurtrie

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News for November

October’s Los Angeles Printers Fair at the International Printing Museum was a great success, and Skyline enjoyed record sales!  IPM is talking about expanding the Fair to a two-day event next year, so save the date—the first weekend in October.

It is with great pleasure that we unveil this month’s new offering: Troyer Ornaments, cast from nothing less than the original American Type Founders matrices.  This is a series of decorative elements drawn by Austrian artist Johannes Troyer for ATF.  They were released in 1953, and enjoyed enormous popularity.  This spectacular series is now once again available, in 36pt, presented in Skyline Collections No. 31, 32 and 33.  We’ve done a full write-up on Troyer and how the matrices came to Skyline; it includes ATF’s original showing and can be found on the STF web site, Type & Borders page.

And back in stock with a second casting at last is the long-awaited Arboret Ornament Suite.  See our newly updated 3-volume online Specimen Book & Catalog for details on the above, and all our Fonts, Borders, Initials and Collections.  Other noteworthy projects are already in progress for next month, so stay tuned—and don’t forget to sign up (at the right) for automatic updates.

 

Collection 031

 

Collection 032

 

Collection 033

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News for October

New this month is Park Avenue, in 18pt, a standard face that should be in every printing office.

Park Avenue
What–you already have it?  OK, no surprise there.  Just wait till you see what we’re casting up for next month; save your shekels!

Recast and back in stock is Border No. U-13, the delicate and lovely antique Spiral Rose; and Della Robbia in 14pt.  (Also now available is a Lowercase Supplement for this font, which we have not offered before, so technically it’s a new item.)

Gotta go, we’re just loading up to launch for the Los Angeles Printers Fair.  Hope to see you there!

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News for September

New this month is Nova Script in 18pt.  This delicate semi-formal face was designed for Intertype in 1937 by George Trenholm. We also present ornamental Border No. G-73, a two-element filigree that might just work very nicely with the Nova.  Back in stock: Parisian, Nestor Script, and Border No. 121.

Nova Script


Border G-073

Don’t miss the 7th Annual Los Angeles Printers Fair coming up on Saturday, October 3! This event, held at the International Printing Museum, just gets bigger and better every year.  Skyline will be there as always, with one of the largest booths and plenty of new type for sale. For further info: www.printmuseum.org/printersfair/general-information/

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News for August

We’ve been busy since returning from the great Chicago Wayzgoose! Two new fonts this month:  Jessen Schrift in 16pt.  This is one of Rudolph Koch’s designs, released in 1930 for the Klingspor Foundry, and intended for Bible printing.  It’s an unusual hybrid of romanized capitals and blackletter lowercase with several stylized alternate characters and a handcrafted look.  (The name is in honor of Peter Jessen who was a major figure in the book arts of 19th century Germany.)  This casting was primarily a commission job, but many other printers expressed interest, so production was scaled up.  Even with a substantial amount of extra type included in the casting for stock, orders have continued to come in.  In addition to full fonts, a double lowercase supplement was also produced–and is already sold out.  There are a few full fonts still available, however, and these will be sold first-come, so do not hesitate.

Jessen Schrift 16
The second new release, Post Oldstyle Roman No. 2, 18pt, is a fine example of the “rugged” typography in fashion at the turn of the 20th century.  The designer was E. J. Kitson, a staff artist at The Saturday Evening Post, who created this face in 1900.

Post Oldstyle Roman No. 2

And lastly we present Border No. F-816 in 24pt.  It’s a bold, attention-grabbing byzantine design for which we just got the matrices.

Border F-816

The following type faces have been recast, and are back in stock available for purchase once again:  Della Robbia 36pt, and Trocadero 18pt.

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Welcome to Our New Web Site

It’s long overdue, but we finally got a new and far better web site up and running!  Skyline was established in 2004, and soon there was a need for internet presence—and unable to find anyone to take that on, I slapped together an el-cheapo site myself on a do-it-yourself host.  It was rudimentary but served the primary purpose of making our Specimen Book & Catalog available by download.  We outgrew that site years ago, but again, I could not find a good local source to build a new one, and didn’t want to divert my energies from typefounding to deal with all the intricacies myself.  This summer things finally came together and the new site happened.  Many thanks to Sarah H. and Troy G. (both are Phoenix-area letterpress printers) who had what it takes to redesign the site and migrate it to a new and better host.  I’ve tinkered with it myself enough now to be able to make minor revisions and post the monthly update, and there’s plenty of room for growth and enhancements.  We also are tied into the various social media now.  Troy took it upon himself to create a Skyline Facebook page on his own time, and we’ll be going public with that very soon.  Thanks for following us!

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News for June/July

Our new antique revival for this month is Salem in 24pt. A rather rare face, first released in 1901 by the historic Keystone Type Foundry, its intentionally quaint letterforms make it a unique and versatile novelty face.

Salem

Back in stock:
Lexington; Border No. 776 and Border No. U-8.

Skyline will be closed June 19 – July 13 for our pilgrimage to the APA Chicago Wayzgoose.  This promises to be a grand event, open to all friends of letterpress printing.  For full information, go to 2015wayzgoose.apa-letterpress.com

A comprehensive selection of fonts, borders, initials and Collections will be available at the Skyline sales table.

Stop by and say hello!

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Announcing a Special Casting

Skyline-Type-Foundry-600-JessenWe are preparing to do a special subscription casting of Jessen Schrift.  This romanized blackletter face originated with Rudolph Koch at Germany’s Klingspor foundry in the 1930s.  Skyline has the matrices for four sizes of this face on indefinite loan from their owner; the largest being sixteen (16) point, which will be produced in this project.  Other sizes may be cast at a later date.  (Quads and spacing in this body size are readily available from our friends at M&H Type.)  Fonts will be 9-A 18-a 5-1 and a double lowercase supplement will also be offered–Price Code N for either.  Anyone wishing to reserve some of this type for purchase should contact Skyline via email by the deadline of June 6.  Response will determine how many fonts are cast; a few extra will be made for stock, but availability is not guaranteed unless you contact us.
The graphic above, while rather low-res, is a description of the face and the matrices as published for the Mike Anderson Estate Auction, where the mats were purchased by their present owner.