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Letterpress Type: Sources of Type

Principal Sources of Letterpress Type

The casual observer or recent aficionado of letterpress printing may be surprised to learn that there are numerous sources of printing type available even today. Although letterpress printing may seem like a relic of history, it has in reality never completely ceased to exist as a commercial enterprise. The scope of its use in commercial printing has, however, gradually decreased to the point that it is now appreciated more for the "press" than for the "letter". For a very few, letterpress is still a worthy enterprise, and for these few, a supply of letterpress type continues to be necessary and valuable. Fulfilling this need is the work of a handful of active typefoundries around the world.

In the United States, Quaker City Typefoundry, near Philadelphia, and M & H Type, in San Francisco, are the most prominent. For these vendors—and for the numerous semi-private typefoundries that occasionally offer type—the current market for letterpress type is diminished and rarefied.

I will continue to expand this article to include other typefoundries and whatever details seem appropriate. If you think a particular foundry should be mentioned here, please comment on this article, or contact me.

For a look back at the history of American typefoundries, see Stephen O. Saxe's book, Type Foundries of America and Their Catalogs.

—Ian Schaefer

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