Letterpress type

Is there a standard number of characters in a full set of letterpress type?

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No. It varies by body size, and foundries use designations like 2A-5a to indicate their fonting scheme (pre-digital, font is the correct term for a set of type in a specific face and size). The larger the size, the fewer characters, and you might only get one of the least-used sorts. You might buy different cap, lower case and figure fonts, plus accent fonts if needed to suit needs.
There are also different categories of font, from the small collector’s font to the large book font.

Virgin Wood Type has a good breakdown of the various font schemes, at least for wood type.


… as do M&H Type, and Skyline Type; here you can see the differences between text and display faces, a well as different foundries.

A link to ATF’s fonting scheme during its last years:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/987682500/in/photolist-H5CZL-...