Better Pics Cyrillic Mats - Please Help ID

Still hoping someone can find a reference in these in a catalog. Hope the pictures help. Any input would be greatly appreciated:

Any clues in the pictures that somebody might point out would be greatly appreciated. It seems that there is not an easy reference in which to find this info.

These appear to be brand new in the box.


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Looking at the pictures you’ve posted, I have the following few observations.

What can be made out of the label in German reads:

Russian-Excelsior Mattes
8268R - Double alphabet font
… completely compatible with Handset types supplied…

The set has both regular and bold mats, but is far from complete, appearing to contain only the last letters of the Russian Cyrillic alphabet and figures. I see only lower-case characters. Also, I can’t quite make out the top two rows in your photograph, so I don’t know which letters are there. There is hardly enough room, however, to accommodate the rest of the Russian Cyrillic alphabet. On the other hand, it is possible that this set was meant to be used in tandem with other mats from the Linotypes Latin Excelsior fonts. This doesn’t seem likely to me, though, since the number of corresponding letters between the two alphabets wouldn’t really justify the trouble entailed in combining the two sets of mats. In any case, it doesn’t look like there’s enough room in the box for all of the non-corresponding letters. Perhaps someone like “parallel_imp” who actually composed on a Russian linotype could help with that question.

Also interesting is the fact that your set contains the characetrs abrogated by the spelling reforms in the Soviet Union in 1918. They were thus most likely made for an emigre Russian community (as your initial post suggests). Russian enclaves outside of the Soviet Union used the pre-1918 Russian orthography well into the 20th century. Indeed, a few small Russian groups still use the older letters.

Sorry I can only help with some of the details about the alphabet represented by these mats and not the actual Linotype history.

Best - Denis

I wasn’t a comp at the emigre Russian daily but a pressman. I did save some Linotype stuff for my own use when they converted, but the only mats I got were two complementary fonts of 30 point condensed gothic: one an English-language font, the other the Cyrillic sorts needed. The font of mats in question here could certainly be just Cyrillic sorts to complement an English-language font of Excelsior. But this may also be an orphaned box of mats from a larger font of mats.

p-i: Thanks for the clarification. It might be that the “zwei” of the German phrase “Zweibuchstabensschrift” refers to the additional letters needed to complement the corresponding Latin font, “Zweibuchstab,” being a German definition for “combined letter” or even “ligature.” It might also be that the box contains only those mats needed for the pre-1918 orthography, although Chris’s pictures show the Russian short i (“bI”), which is used both pre- and post-1918.

A nice puzzle, indeed!

Thanks guys, it seems that more pics would certainly help unravel the puzzle. I’ll take the time and remove the top two tiers of mats and photograph the entire set. Hopefully it will shed some more light on things. Oddly it seems that someone intentionaly tried to remove the label on the box? Any input on the packaging? It seems older than the”opinions” that i’ve gotten that they might be from the 60’s/70’s. Anyway, i’ll certainly try to get pics back as soon as possible. Thanks for you help. Chris