Where to buy lead type?

eriknorvelle's picture


Does anyone here know of sources for purchasing real lead type? A good friend of mine has a printing press which he is very skilled in using, and I was hoping to buy him a set of new (i.e. used) type to add to his collection. Can't find anything on the internet, but I may just be looking in the wrong places...

Please cc: any replies to me at eriknorvelle@hotmail.com, since I can't check this forum every day.

Erik Norvelle

hrant's picture

I know little about lead type, but I do know that there are extremely few people left actually casting type to order (the US for example only has one semi-retired person), and one of them is the Neufville foundry of Barcelona, although they only go up to 36 point:



kegler's picture


hrant's picture

You might also find some Typophilers looking to sell some of their metal fonts. I know that our Gerald Lange has a good collection he might sell you something from.


benkiel's picture

There are still people in the US making brand new type, and selling used type, try this for a start, and check out Briar Press for more


bieler's picture

"You might also find some Typophilers looking to sell some of their metal fonts. I know that our Gerald Lange has a good collection he might sell you something from."

Ha! I spent the entire afternoon moving the metal type collection around with a pallet jack. Long ago realized you need to palletize the cabinets.

Much cooler to just shift fonts around on the keyboard from file to file. And folks complain about Suitcase!!!

gerald_giampa's picture


You might try Jim Rimmer.
http://www.lanstontype.com/JimRimmer.html. His type is solid and he has some faces unavailable anywhere else. Some of which he designed.

Write me, I will give you his e-mail address.

Gerald Giampa
Lanston Type Company

andreas's picture

An other source is Schriftenservice D.Stempel GmbH, Germany.


Available Types:


gerald_giampa's picture


Type standards. Didot. Pt & Picas. That can be cured if you purchase spacing as well.

Type height, "you might be perforating" when you want to be printing. Can't cure that by spacing. Order a press while your are at it perhaps.

I am not sure of Stempels standards. They had nice stuff.

.918? Check it out first.

Otherwise the quality is great. As I say, I am not aware of their standards.

Think Rimmer! Canadian dollar?? Nothing wrong with M & H. if he hasn't got what you want.

And no, I am not getting any kickbacks.

Gerald Giampa
Lanston Type Company

hrant's picture

Typophile's email delivery of posts was down for a while, until just about an hour ago.
So fire at will! (No, not William Caslon. ;-)


hrant's picture

Wow, I guess my info about the casting available in the US was way off...

BTW, I just finally read the APHA special issue on ATF, and was wondering about something now that you mentioned that Rehak bought some of the stuff from that infamous bankruptcy auction: How would one track down where everything ended up? Would the people who executed the auction (who?) give out that into freely? I'm looking in particular not for matrices or fonts, but documentation.


John Hudson's picture

Another person who was at the ATF auction and may have information is David Pankow at the Carey Collection at RIT. He gave an interesting and at times moving lecture about the rise and fall of ATF at the 1994 ATypI conference in San Francisco, culminating in his description of the auction. The scrap dealers were indeed standing by, and seem to have carried of the bulk of the stuff, including many matrices. Pankow himself was able to save a few designs for the Carey Collection, I believe.

hrant's picture

Wow Jim, that post is a keeper! Thanks.
My address is hrant@inverselogic.com
I've actually been gearing up to contact Rehak, Pankow, and maybe Jennifer Lee and Mark Lester as well.

BTW, I've met Dan Carr a couple of times - a true craftsman. I've never met Stan Nelson, but I have watched his punchcutting video (thanks to Gerald Lange for the loan). I think Nelson might be a golden lead too, especially in my hunt for the ATF Garamond matrices. I recently finished a printing of 11 sizes (6 to 48 point) of ATF Garamond, and am preparing graphs to show the variance of 10 different design attributes according to size, but the source material would be even better!

BTW, here's a couple of links for Schumacher-Gebler's amazing museum:


gerald_giampa's picture

Jim Rimmer and John Hudson,

Good to see my Vancouver friends in full force this morning. Finland wishes you well.

European Types!

My recommendation against them is not for reasons of quality, they usually have lots of that. Some nice designs also. Consider language, font schemes vary radically between them. You may have to buy lots of type to set an ordinary business card.

In hindsight, if I had purchased ATF as planned, it would be gone with the tide. The Oceans have not been kind to me.

And that's not the only thing. Do you guys mind if visit for awhile?

Gerald Giampa
Lanston Type Company

gerald_giampa's picture


That could happen to you when you order a European font. I ran out of the most important letter in the alphabet.

Last sentence of my last post should have read.

And that's not the only thing. Do you guys mind if "I" visit for awhile?

Do you mind?

Gerald Giampa

John Hudson's picture

I don't mind, but I'm going to sleep now. Try not to get into any fights while I'm snoozing. :-)

hrant's picture

Jim, your apprenticeship offer is both noble and generous - I'm sure it will pan out. If you haven't already, consider formalizing this through ATypI: this year's conference (which I believe you're already scheduled to speak at) will draw dozens of potential disciples for you. You might find yourself having to turn people away!


Any contact info for Rich Hopkins?


John Hudson's picture

Jim, when my schedule is a bit less crazy -- next year I hope -- I'll certainly come and take you up on those two days. [I had a delightful and educational time visiting Jim last week (pictures to be posted to the ATypI site soon), and thoroughly recommend a trip to his 'shop to anyone coming to the Vancouver area.]

Jim, a question: are you also able to cut punches with your equipment, or do you do all your work by cutting matrices directly?

gerald_giampa's picture


Some guy sent me thunder and lightning after your snooze post.

I meant visit in Vancouver. I know I missed you last time. I can work around your schedule as I don't have one yet. My sons place is close to your studio on Cambie. He is close to my old plant on Clark & Pender. You haven't move to Coquitlam or something I hope.

I will write you first. Do you want to buy my type books?

Gerald Giampa

hrant's picture

What type books do you have? Would you accept payment after delivery?


gerald_giampa's picture


A blast from the past. Are you serious? LA would be a serious frieght bill. Hudson is in the neighborhood, (of the books) that's why I asked him. Maybe he isn't interested.

Gerald Giampa

gln's picture

Gerald Giampa,

>You haven't move to Coquitlam or something I hope.

What is wrong with Coquitlam? ;

gerald_giampa's picture


Nothing wrong with Coquitlam. I have a brother out there. I would be without a car. Do you live there?

Maybe we could link up. I just hadn't thought about going that way. Usually I stay on Commercial Drive with one of my sons, or Squamish with the other.

Gee, they cut the ivy down.

Gerald Giampa

hrant's picture

> Are you serious?

First let's see what books you have, then we'll burn the bridge when when we get to it.


John Hudson's picture

Gerald (Giampa -- there are too many Gerald's in this neck of the woods), I might well be interested in your books. Drop me a note when you're heading to town.

gerald_giampa's picture


Is it too late to come to ATPi? Would it be safe!

Gerald Giampa

anonymous's picture


I've made a few attempts to post with no effect. They just seem to disappear into the ether. If this one registers, I will follow with metal type information.


anonymous's picture


If you can read this, I have succeeded in posting. Damn, I get frustrated by computers!

I know you have heard about M&H Type (Arion Press). They are very good, and have a large selection of both US and UK Monotype faces. They cast from 6 point to 72 point, using Monotype composition casters, Orphan Annies, Thompsons and Giant Casters.

Some of the type, including all 6 to 12 points and in some cases, 14 to 24 pt, are cast in a softer Monotype metal.

To be sure, this is not true foundry type, but will serve well if not overimpressed on a soft packing.

All of the Thompson Caster and Giant Caster type is done in hard metal, and is very good indeed. Their catalogue is coded to let you know what is "foundry cast" and what is softer composition-cast type.

You could look up Michael and Winnifred Bixler in the Eastern US. They are casting many UK Monotype faces, including those of Gill, Van Krimpen, and Mardersteig etc.
They will tell you what their metal alloy is made up of.

The Rehak of the Dale Guild is casting in hard metal, using Barth Casters which he aquired from American Type Founders at their liquidation. In addition he has some of their legendary Benton pantographs, and has recut a handful of Goudy's Textura faces; Mediaeval, Franciscan, and Deepdene Text. His work is superb, and the castings are the best in the world.

My selection of faces s a very small one, geared to what I need at my press for the books I print. I have cut a handful of my own private faces, in single sizes, and have made them available in the past. At present I am in the midst of setting a very large text, and have no time to cast, so I think your best bet is the names I have given you.

Be cautious about buying used type. Some of it is can be short of certain characters, and in some cases it can be worn and beaten up. Buying new is the wisest step.

You will find M&H and Dale Guild on the internet.

Good luck,

Jim Rimmer

anonymous's picture


Theo Rehak of the Dale Guild is the man to speak to about the disposition of the ATF equipment. The sad news is that the junkmen were standing by at the auction a few years ago, and the largest part of the battery of fifty or so Barth casters and the hand and steam pivotal (Bruce-like machines) were trucked off for scrap. A part of the holding of matrices met the same fate. The scope of the machinery (weight) was just too overwhelming for the average person to cart away. Barth casters went for about twenty-five dollars. Benton pantographs for a few hundred dollars. Most of the six Bentons were saved and trucked off by people who are, fortunately, using them.

The good news is that about twenty or so Barth casters were saved and are being used by enthusiasts. A large part of the matrices were also saved by several individuals.

Rich Hopkins of the Hill and Dale Letter Foundry in Terra Alta WV has rescued a lot of them. Some he has cast in recent years.

Greg Walters of Piqua, Ohio has a few of the Barth Casters from the sale, and I believe a small selection of the Matrices.

Dan Carr, who operates the Golgonooza (this is a real name) Letter Foundery in Ashuelot, NH has a Large point size Kustermann caster that had been used by Theo for a few years. He passed it on the Dan, who by the way, is a hand punchcutter, and has done a lovely 16 point roman book face.

Another man who can give you lots of information is Stan Nelson, who is a printing historian/technician at the Smithsonian Museum of Modern History, and is also a punchcutter. He has been archiving a few tons of the ATF matrices which were given to the Smithsonian in, I think, the mid-seventies. These mats are from the ATF "housecleaning" of afew decades ago. Apparently they were presented to the Smithsonian as a dumped pile, which was loaded with snow shovels to take away. The story is that they suffered little damage by this treatment.

Paul Duensing in Watkinsville GA is truly the dean of avocational typefounding in the world. He has so much knowledge of the status of the matrix holdings of the great foundries of Europe. About 15 years ago he cut a 30 pt Civilite for Hermann Zapf. Harold Berliner, Nevada City, CA made me a gift of a font for lending them one of my home-made matrix holders so that they could cast a subscription of 30 fonts. Paul is also a close friend of Schumaker Gebler (forgive my spelling of his name) who has a boggling matrix collection from Stempel, Enschede and other foundries, along with a large functioning battery of foundry casters. Last month I received a gorgeous little brochure from Germany and since I speak no German, I could only sort of guess that it was announcing the final opening of the big Foundry Museum in Germany. I will dig it up . . . in the foundry somewhere.

One parting item: Chris Stern of Grey Spider Press in Sedro Wooley, WA came up to visit me yersterday for the purpose of cutting hanging figs to go with Futura. We got all the patterns cut, and the two rough cuts on all of the matrices. Next week we will do the final finish cut. Chris, incidentally, has five or six Monotype caster, about half of them recondiitoned and operating. He casts type for the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle. They have a very lively program.

If you are interested in contacting any of these people, give me your Email address, and I will get you contact info on these folks. You have your work cut out for you in tracking the ATF material. The good part is that any of it that exists is in the hand of some known person, you just have to pull it all together.

This got a little wordy, but there is a lot going on in metal foundry these days.

Jim Rimmer

anonymous's picture

I can't quite recall whether Rich Hopkins got the ATF matrices for Garamond or Baskerville, but I seem to remember that he has one series of the other. You might want to check it out.

Other happenings: I have recently completed the cutting of Matrices for Carl Dair's Cartier Roman. I have had the patterns which I made for both the Roman and Italic just sitting around the foundry for a few years. Just didn't have the time to get to cutting punches, which was my original intent.

In May of this year I was slated to make a presentation to the Type Club of Toronto, and shamed myself into getting back on the Cartier. Not enough time to cut punches, so I made another (intaglio) set of patterns at a 12-1 scale and cut direct mats. I'll get around to cutting the French accents after October. Since the mats were angraved directly, it is necessary to hand dress all the letters as they come off the caster. Poo!

If you are into little type news: I took a graduating Graphic Design student from Emily Carr Inst. on for a semester of Mondays. He wanted to further his type knowledge. I dropped him in at the deep end of the pool, and suggested that he engrave a small type project.

He selected Victor Hammer's American Uncial. We came to the conclusion that if he did only the lowercase and a cap I, along with the punctuation and figs, that he could complete the project.

I taught him the bare-bones basics of Fontographer, and he made his outlines with it. Using FWG's method, he cut bristol board patterns, which were then engraved at 2-1 into lead plate. These were used to cut the 14 point mats.

In the end, he took away his patterns, the mats and a case of type. The last two days were used up in his setting and printing a limited edition broadsheet with the type. This bright young man's name is Dale Davies. Following his project, another student came for five weeks to do the same thing. I felt the time was too tight, so we settled on her cutting a glyph of her name Kan. In this case she freehanded the drawing from an existing Chinese glyph, and following the same steps cut a mat in 18 point. I steered her into recutting another pattern flopped so that she could print it on her broadseet as a faint grey image, along with the 18 point type.

Both students were very tweeked about carrying on at a later date on their own. This is very possible since the machines for cutting type are dirt cheap.

The purpose of my writing this here is to mention that I would like to have, at least one year, two or three interetsed people come and spend two days with me to learn the basics of the process. I think the most logical thing would be to have them design and cut a dingbat/leaf, or the like, in 18 point. This could easily be done over two days.

There would be no charge, and there is affordable B&B spots in the neighborhood.

Somebody ought to take me up on this, becasue I am not getting younger, and I would dearly like to see the craft carry on. In the final analysis, the knowledge that one picks up is not geared solely to letterpress; at least that's the way I see it.

Sorry for the crazy digression.

Jim Rimmer

anonymous's picture

John Hudson

It will be possible to cut a steel punch also, although it is easier to cut a matrix directly. I have not cut more than a dozen punches, preferring to take the coward's way out and cut typemetal patrixes (I don't know how to pluralize patrix) for elctrolapting, and then the few suites of directly engraved brass matices.

I have the process for punch cutting pretty well standardized, and can do a good punch in a few hours. Of course "i" is earier than "g".

It looks like the workshop might happen in Nov, but possibly in the spring, or both.


anonymous's picture

You folks don't let any moss grow on you. I have had a few interetsed parties contact me regarding the free type engraving workshop.

Firstly I have extended an invitation to anyone attending ATypI 2003 to break away in the evening or in the days following the Conference if possible I realize that everyone will be busy schmoozing and what not, but if you can get away, I'd love to give you a tour, with casters running.

I think the soonest I can manage a workshop would be about mid November (with a little flexibility in establishing a date, based upon you being able to get here) and another in the Spring of 2004. This would be about late April or early May. Again this will need to be worked out with potential attendees. Probably the best thing would be for me to give you each other's Email address, and you could duke it out regarding the dates.

Keep in touch, and we'll get something going.

While you are here, I have an Ikarus setup for digital type, that you might get a kick out of. It's really a very refined and easy program to use. Very friendly to pencil outlines.

More later . . .

Jim Rimmer

Syndicate content Syndicate content