Over the years Rich Hopkins of Terra Alta, West Virginia has periodically offered an opportunity for a select few to learn how to cast type metal in his printing shop for an intensive week called “Monotype University”. I had the honor to attend Monotype University 6 in June of 2005 along with Bill Welliver, William Bentley, Paul Maravelas, and David Krenz. Besides Rich Hopkins, the faculty included Jim Walczak, Mike Anderson and Dan Jones.
For my project I chose 24 point Hadriano and many days we worked from 9 in the morning until 11 at night casting in very hot weather. I only experienced one “splash” from the 700 degree molten lead pot and I managed to step back and avoid being burned. The experience has given me an appreciation of just how hard it is to make good type.
Most of the fonts in my print shop are new type and I highly recommend the type that Sky Shipley (a graduate of an earlier Monotype University) makes in Arizona. Go to Skyline Type Foundry to download a list of the wide variety of excellent fonts and borders that he offers. I do not recommend buying old, worn and incomplete type on eBay when new type is so available and affordable. Other excellent type foundries are M&H in San Francisco and Ed Rayher’s Swamp Press in Massachusetts.
Rich Hopkins has also been the long time editor (since 1978) of the ATF Newsletter which just published it’s 40th issue. ATF stands for the American Typecasting Fellowship, whose members meet every two years for a Conference. Rich can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 169 Oak Grove Road, Terra Alta, West Virginia 26764.
The Author standing in front of a Thompson Monotype caster
John Haines (1924 to 2011) served as poet laureate of Alaska. He began writing poetry after he homesteaded near Fairbanks in the 1940’s. He initially supported himself through hunting and trapping and then later by teaching. He published numerous collections of poems such as “Winter News” (1962), “News From the Glacier” (1982) and also books of essays such as “Of Traps and Snares”.
I took this photograph of John Haines in 1983 at the front door of his homestead. He gave me a zucchini from his garden. I have printed two poetry broadsides for him which he signed and numbered. Although he had numerous books published he was very pleased to have letterpress printed poetry broadsides. He passed away in 2011 at the age of 86. “A Short History of the Republic” was hand set in 24 point Pabst Roman type with the title in 24 point Hadriano caps.
Here is a wedding invitation using 24 point Parsons with it’s 48 pt. long characters for the names of the bride and groom. I whited out some of the more personal information and have included the A7 envelope with the printed flap that I provided with the invitations. The challenge of Parsons, if you have both ascenders and descenders in the same line, is to construct a solid 72 point line of lead using space material to support the characters both above and below the main 24 point text. In this example the second line of the names the “h” goes up and includes the ampersand and the “p” and the “y” go down. (Click on scans to enlarge)
My printing mentor, Jim Walczak, very generously supplied me with several sizes of Parsons. The smaller text of the above invitation is 14 point Parsons Italic without using any long characters. Parsons is not readily available from any type founder that I know of. A 12 point version with 24 point long characters was cast by the Dale Guild in 2010 and eight fonts were offered on Briar Press. I am not aware of any other foundry that has the mats and I welcome comments from anyone who knows of a source for Parsons type.
Parsons was designed in 1917 for BB&S by Will Ransom, who thought the long characters should be used sparingly. One of my workshop students used Parsons for this project:
Among many distinctions, Timothy Matlack (1736 to 1829) penned the original Declaration of Independence which is at the National Archives in Washington, DC. He was a Master Penman and was hired to do deeds, contracts and other legal and historical documents in what could be described as an English Roundhand script. He accomplished this with a feather quill pen. Type fonts that are similar are Copperplate and American Scribe. (See www.oldfonts.com for the excellent computer version of American Scribe)
He was also given the honor of reading the Declaration from the steps of Independence Hall in Philadelphia and overseeing the letterpress printing of the Declaration so that copies could be sent to all of the colonies. He was a very active Quaker and opposed slavery. Congress commissioned the artist Charles Wilson Peale to paint Timothy Matlack’s portrait in 1790. This portrait is shown below as it is in the public domain.
My grandmother, Kathryn Burris Bradley’s genealogy book begins with the Matlack family. The first Matlack was William who emigrated from Cropwell Bishop, Nottinghamshire, England aboard the ship “Kent” in 1677 which landed in Burlington, New Jersey. Our family connection is described at www.BradleyHistory.com
Click on Photos to Enlarge
After ten years of teaching letterpress workshops I thought it was time to give RailwayStationPress.com a new look. This website will include some photo galleries and this blog as well as information about upcoming workshops. The Railway Station Press began in 2003 in the Boyce Railway Station in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The station was used by the old Norfolk & Western line and was built in 1913. The press has since been relocated to the Del Ray section of Alexandria, Virginia within walking distance of the Braddock Road Metro station on the Yellow and Blue lines.
The banner photo is of the beautiful brass mats of 36 Point Civilite laid out while being cast by Jim Walczak of the Sycamore Press & Typefoundry. That 36 point Civilite is just one of the 65 lead type fonts available for your use in a letterpress workshop. The photo below is a fisheye’s view of my Chandler & Price Pilot press years ago when it was at the Boyce Railway Station.
Please go the Workshops page for available dates for Beginner Letterpress Workshops.
My other website & blog can be found at www.BradleyHistory.com Thank you.