Making Printers’ Type

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Man’s 500 Year Quest to Develop Better Methods

Edited by Richard L. Hopkins. 164 pages including numerous illustrations, many in color, and a detailed index. Case bound in a landscape format, 9×6 inches.

This book brings together four experts in the realm of typographic history: Stephen O. Saxe,
R. Stanley Nelson, David M. MacMillan, and Richard L. Hopkins, and together they put into clear focus all major historic events related to the manufacture of type.

The story begins around 1450 with the pioneering work of Johann Gutenberg and extends to the present day with Open Type and digital imaging. Along the way, many successful inventions are explained (along with a few failures too), sequentially featured, giving the reader a clear understanding of how today’s typography has evolved over the centuries.

The first section explains the essence of Gutenberg’s invention—the hand mold—and how it was slowly developed and continued as the principal means of making type for over 350 years. Various historic molds are shown with differences and innovations explained. Through those centuries, many machines were proposed to automate this manual process.

None was as successful as the pivotal typecaster developed by David Bruce Jr. in 1838. The book’s second section presents solid details relating to his work and along the way several myths are vanquished. Next came the slow process of developing means not only of making type mechanically, but composing the type itself. Several inventions in this period are explained, including the ultimate “winners”—the Linotype and the Monotype.

The last section of the book covers the hot metal composition era —roughly seventy years—which was climaxed by the introduction of computers into the composing room. Simultaneously, the offset printing process came of age, bringing about the tumultuous and short-lived era of photo composition. To bring the story into the present, the book concludes with development of digital typesetting and “Open Type,” which has made typesetting available to the masses as never before perceived.

Other books go into great detail on single aspects such as type design, typographic theory, matrix making, digitization, or the history of a specific machine. This book is hailed as the first to bring together the full expanse of type development from beginning to the present. Along the way some nagging questions are answered. Concise text is augmented by rare photographs and drawings of early typesetting activities, reproduced in exacting detail.

This book took four years in its development, finally reaching completion in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. It has been long-awaited but will prevail as the one which “brought it all together.” This limited edition is available exclusively through the Hill & Dale Private Press.

$54.95 per copy includes shipping in the USA.

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