I’ve checked out several resources for used type but haven’t found what I want, so I’m looking at ordering some new type from M+H. My ambitions to buy complete sets in many different sizes are curbed by my not wanting to spend too much money at once!
I have a Pilot and am looking to print business cards, invites, flyers, arty nonsense and other ephemera. I’ve decided to chose Bembo as my preferred type. Ideally, I’d go ahead and buy roman and italic in 10, 12, 14, 16 and 24 pt fonts, but I’m hoping not to spend too much at once.
I feel like I want to go as small as 10 because I like the fineness and detail of printing really small. Also to get 12 pt in roman, italic and small caps for most general use, and 24 pt for display.
I’m just wondering if that’s a smart move or am I going to immediately regret not having 14 or 16? Obviously I can order those at a later date, but its worth avoiding that hassle if I can just decide initially.
Regardless of my specific question, if you just had a small tabletop press and were limited to using a very small selection of metal type, any thoughts to what breakdown you’d choose?
Log in to reply 8 replies so far
My personal opinion is to start with ten or twelve generally, in the absence of some particular requirement. It seems to me that if you were to have two sizes, then a ten and fourteen would be useful (skipping over the twelve to get a distinct difference in size). With twelve, eighteen would be my second choice, if available. Twelve and eight would also be in the same “skipping-a-size” relationship.
There’s lots of subjectivity in this matter of type; the more so since the disappearance of the compositor from the craft. I applaud your desire to set type by hand. Good luck!
If you indeed plan to produce business cards, you may wish to also purchase 8pt. as it may be necessary for some of the copy on the card. Youy may also wish to purchase a selection of @ characters in a couple sizes as they seme to be necessary in this modern business world, and your would want them to match the Bembo well.
Your reduced selection of sizes seems to be wise, and instead of the 14 or 16pt., I might suggest 18pt. as one which might come to play for your design flexibility. It is better to start out with limiutations and learn to use them well. Lack of size variation will force creativity.
Initially I would purchase 12 pt and 18pt in Roman and Italic for everyday work, and 24 pt Roman for display. You may find that you need a smaller type, perhaps 8 pt for small information on business cards. I believe at one time the folks at M&H were offering starter sets of complete 12 & 18 pt fonts discounted for first orders. If you can afford to, buy at least two lowercase fonts for every cap font (I prefer a ratio of 5 to 1). I think you will find that 14 and 16 pt are good sizes, but so closely sized that one or the other would suffice. Ideally you will end up with some of each size made to fit every situation you will encounter.
Bembo is a very nice, classical face, which is adaptable to a lot of situations. The narrow Bembo Italic is one of the prettiest Italics ever designed altho I don’t know if M&H offers it. Remember that you will have to purchase spacing for each size, I use the small drawer plastic sorters (sold at hardware stores) to hold spacing that overflows from my cases. It sounds like you have thought a lot about your choices and are off to a great start.
my first fonts were a 14 pt. bold and 8 and 10 medium gothic. that will be all i will ever need, 10 years later and over 300 type cases i still wanted more. most of my type was from quaker city type, i think their still in business in pennsylvania. there is swapm press in massachusetts they sell fonts also. good luck.
Thank you all for the very useful thoughts.
I chose the sizes I did because for some reason M + H doesn’t offer Bembo in 18 pt. Likewise Bembo is not one of their offered starter sets, and after much deliberation, I’m stuck on Bembo!
The other source for new Bembo in the states that I’ve noticed is Bixler, who do offer Bembo at 18, but I get the sense that they’re probably more expensive than M + H. If that’s completely unfounded, I’d definitely contact them.
I’ve made a note of what spacing material I need though I do already have a bit. I purchased a type cabinet from Letterpress Things and John gave me a deal I couldn’t pass up that included 11 cases of Futura Semibold, 8 to 60 pt. Was that my favorite typeface? No, but the deal was so good that it will be now! The cases included quite a bit of spacing material so I have a head-start on that.
I just know I need some nice, clean serif type, thus this thread. Thanks again…
In my own shop, I use 8, 12, 18 and 24 pt for most of my work. 12 pt is my standard text size. 8 pt is my small type for business cards and similar work. 18 and 24 are for display types. That’s the same scheme that Kelsey recommended in their 1968 catalog….. when I bought my first fonts.
I would check with M&H, sometimes they have access to mats from other sources and can cast it for you. Bixler doesn’t sell fonts, he casts for book and catalogue work and expects the metal returned when you are finished. I don’t think his prices are out of line for casting, but he doesn’t cater to the packaged type business. Look around some I am sure you can find 18pt. Does anyone know what happened to the mats from Castcraft?
Bembo, as nice as it is as typeface, is not a strong face as a Monotype casting. Certain characters will disintegrate quite quickly. Order lots of lowercase e sorts. Same with Centaur. If you want a Monotype face that will hold its own, choose Plantin. Never quite the choice of the ill-informed snobbish, but it has pedigree and is a workhorse, as they say, and will hold up.
Castcraft sold off the matrices and as I recall the purchaser later passed away. I think there was some discussion at the time on Letpress. I’m quite sure though that one of our beloved letterpress dealers was standing on the door stoop early the next morning to talk to the widow. The matrices are somewhere, though likely scattered about by now.