Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Getting my hands dirty

A row of freshly brushed lower case 10pt c's

I bought myself some lead type the other day. There's two fonts, a 10pt condensed sans serif that I haven't identied further yet, and an 18 point Gill, which, if I could only own one typeface would be it. Bonus! They come in a funny old cabinet with only four of the original 10 drawers, so lots of empty spaces (which I have plans for).

But first job is cleaning and sorting my new type. It looks like they are complete, nearly unused founts, but instead of being correctly sorted into their upper and lower case drawers*, they all are crammed into the upper case compartments. It's a long slow process removing each complete set of letters from its tiny space, checking and cleaning them and then putting away into their traditional place. Fortunately there's not much pied (mixed up) type, or it would be an even slower process.

The before photo

I'm guessing that my new fonts haven't been touched much, if at all, for the better part of 50 years. Transfering the accumulated filth onto my fingers isn't so bad as some type drawers I've cleaned where there was as much mouse poop, insect carcasses/nests and unidentified sticky stuff as dust and wood shavings. At the rate I'm going it's going to take about 12 hours to complete this project. And then I can start thinking about finding a printing press to use it on!

The after photo: clean 10pt lower case a's

*Printing geeks: mine are not California cases


Penelope said...

Wonderful objects! Hand in hand with the rise in digital comes a renewed fascination for these practical objets d'art.

ronnie said...

oooooh lovely! (I like gill sans too!) its hard to find old type here in oz - I have a great old C&P press, and a couple of draws of old type, but realistically I need a whole lot more to be able to really get into letterpress.

good luck finding a suitable press

cheers from the creek r xx

Joan said...

How exciting Meliors. I hope you find a press soon. Hand printed books and exciting.

Carol said...

Wonderful, Meliors, I also hope that you find yourself a press soon.