Over the years Skyline has received many inquiries about the availability of Hebrew type. Matrices were made in this language for all the linecasting machines, and we have long been in search of some, but without success–except for one small linotype font. Absent any prospect of something larger, the decision was made to go ahead and cast that. Here then is Mergenthaler Linotype’s No. 79 Hebrew in 12 point. It consists of the full 22-character alphabet (or “alefbet“) along with a few alternate letterforms and nine additional accented or doubled letters.
Working with these unfamiliar characters (many of which closely resemble each other) was something of a challenge. The real question though was what font scheme to use–that is, how to proportion the relative quantities of each letter. Fortunately a study was located that had done a character count on a diverse collection of documents in Hebrew, containing in total almost a million letters. This answered the need perfectly.
Jan 04, 2023- Received the following from Rachelle G., a graduate student at Harvard:
“The type you’re casting would have been primarily used by Yiddish readers, as evidenced by the special characters. They would have been used to serve a large, mainly secular immigrant population in the US still acclimating to English or trying to maintain cultural ties to Europe and other immigrants across a diaspora . . . the particular model of matrices you’ve got were also sent to postwar Poland as part of an effort to rebuild Jewish culture there in the late ’40s. They had an enormous impact on what was published. As you might imagine, most Hebrew type had been destroyed or very badly damaged, and until the matrices and linotype arrived, the single operating Yiddish print shop (in Lodz) had to manage with only a few cases of shoddy type. But they didn’t have enough matrices to properly maintain them between castings, which made for some dirty slugs.”