Need help measuring type please

Hi. I am a complete newbie but I have recently acquired a lot of lead and wood type. I am a reseller and hope to understand what I’ve got so I can accurately describe. I’ve got a few questions here so if you could help out with any of them, I would appreciate it.

I’m having trouble attaching photos so hopefully my questions will make sense without the visuals.

I have a complete set of Ultra Bodoni UC, LC, #s and punctuation. The tag said it was 48 point. To measure the point size, am I only measuring the actual letter or the entire piece of lead?

For example, there are a number of UC E letters. Some have more lead than the others. What should I measure? Assuming I measure just the letter, it seems like it is 48 point. Or do I measure the entire piece of lead? The LC letters seem to be a smaller point size based on a simple measurement.


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You measure the entire sort.

Think of the piece of type as a block, called the “body” with a letter on one end and it probably has a groove called the “nick” on one side. Hold the piece of type so the letter is right side up but backwards, and the nick is below it. From the side at top of the letter to the side with the nick is the type size in points, 72 points to one inch. The width of the block varies with the width of each individual letter. The height from the “foot” to the “face” is type high, .918 inch. Every piece of type should be that height; different letters of the same font are different widths, but every letter in the font should be on the same body size of, in your case, 48 points. The letter’s face is not 48 points in size, but the type body is, if it’s 48 point type.

And photos need to have simple names without special characters - “Photo1” (without the quotes, :-)


Please try to sell your type as complete fonts (complete sets of one size and style). Please don’t break up the fonts and sell them one letter at a time, or in small groups of letters. If you do that, it makes it useless to us printers, to print with. Thank you.

Measuring Type illustration

image: type.png


I will gladly help you with best ways to sell the type and also help you to identify the more valuable items. Feel free to call me at (516) 633-5107

Thank you Larry. I would really like to talk to you. Is there a good time we can chat. I’m on the east coast and am usually free mid-mornings. Thanks, Janet

Anytime 9:00am till 11:00pm.

Anytime 9:00am till 11:00pm.

Some of the letters may have been cast on a smaller type body with no room for descenders. That would explain why you’re seeing two body sizes for what is nominally a 48-point uppercase E.

This is sometimes done because some casting machinery (notably Monotype Composition casters) is limited to a 36-point body, but matrices are available to cast 48-point on a 36 point body, omitting the lowercase letters. I forget what they do about sorts like commas and semicolons which can have a bit below the baseline. Maybe there is enough room, or maybe the cheat them up a bit.