Composing stick?!


I got these two items off the market in Germany for about €10 the other day.

I’m sure from the evidence in the photos that the draw was once used to store press, not to mention the fix inside is of some actual typeface used perhaps an uncommon one at the time.

The help I need is that of the brass ‘I think’ composing stick, not sure which press it would belong to and if there are various kinds for various press’s? She seems to slide just fine and has a lovely weight to her.

Sorry for the amount of images/naming I had to snap shot them again to even get them onto my post due to the size.


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Composing sticks are composing sticks and could be used for typesetting for any type press. They are not proprietary or press specific….if that’s what you’re wondering.
To prove it, you can send that one to me in the US, immediately, and I will use it.
I’ve never seen one like that and it’s very nice.


A composing stick is a tool used for hand-typesetting of lead type, it is not part of a press. You might be able to identify the manufacturer, which may or may not be a maker of printing presses.

Your drawer is a typecase, they come in different configurations and are used to sort and store typefaces, making it easy to find the specific character you are looking for.

It is unlikely that either of these objects are rare, but the brass composing sticks are less common and usually get higher prices on ebay.

I think most people on here would consider 10 euros a good price for the composing stick.


These German sliding sticks are the best there is. I have a few of these and an English one that is similar. They seem to have been issued in both brass and aluminum. American Printing Equipment (?) distributed these in the US at one point.


The composing sticks are made in what you call in German ‘Neusilber’, not in brass. The case has got a German lay.

Hi David,

That was what I looking for in terms of information I thought they may have a multi purpose use to set any type, I believe you.

Also thanks Kimaboe I’m going to try and find a makers mark as some of these lovely draws can differ in value according to E-bay. Even though I don’t collect for value costs only in style and history grabs me.

And I’m glad we both find the €10 a bargain!! :)

Cheers Bielerpr,

I was unaware about the aluminium, although it does makes sense as the old boy I got it off said something about them being scraped because of there value in metal. Shame!!!!!

I look into the American lead about them and see what I can find.

Hey Thomas,

Neusilber being nickel silver. I’ll research into more on this as your probably right german people do have a thing for coating things such as versilbert.

Thanks all.


The German sliders I have are aluminum. The English seem to be brass or similar. In either case, they are very cool.

The main thing about these that makes them superior to other sticks is that the braces are exactly parallel to each other. Thus, all set lines will be the same measure, well, ahem, as long as they are set to the same tightness.


Hey Bielerpr,

Is it possible for you to post a photo for me so I can use it for reference when encountering these sticks. I’m sure the old boy I spoke said he may have more some where, so fingers crossed.

I find that Germans tend to make things very efficient and long lasting mechanically, that would explain what you said about it being very precise. As long as its tightened.

Thank you for this information everyday it seems I learning something new within the field of press’s and its components.

The blog link at the bottom is this further information regarding the composing stick or your personal blog site as well?! It seems interesting either way and thanks.



This is a showing of the differing sliders. The one on the top is the English (at least I think it is), the one on is a Bacher (German).

Click on the pic and it will take you to flickr for a larger image.


Hey, Gerald

Thank you for this help/information. I really need to sort my flickr site out, possible turn it into a research tool for my hobby.

I like your blog site layout. And your sticks look awesome!

Thank again,


Trying to identify a makers mark or number, but there seems to not be one.

Interesting..would it be safe in making the assumption that perhaps some composing sticks weren’t marked?

I have to say I love your work on printing the megaloceros design!!!!! I think today’s mission is to set my flickr up and add you.