HistoryWired About the Program Help Comments Smithsonian Institution
Back to Map


Typefounding Materials
about 1915

Typemold, punches, and matrices
Typefounding--the design and production of metal printing type for hand composition--is a slow and laborious process that dates to the mid-1400s. These typefounding materials were made by artist and paper historian Dard Hunter about 1915. They were first used to print "The Etching of Figures," a book commissioned by the Chicago Society of Etchers. For the book, Hunter made his own paper, cut his own types, and did all of the printing. The typemold is Hunter's copy of an original from the Caslon Type Foundry in London. It casts 18-point type--a size equivalent to 1/4 inch. The composing stick is a common "screw" stick, such as was widely used in the second half of the 1800s. The two lines of types were cast by Hunter and donated with the rest of his typefounding materials.

The terms "uppercase" and "lowercase" derive from the process of sorting capital letters into an upper case and the remaining letters into the one below it.
Web display only

Learn more!
· Making Type by Hand
· Printing Methods
· Printing and Graphic Arts, an NMAH Virtual Exhibit

What do you think?
Would you like to see more objects like this on the site? Tell others by casting your vote.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Fewer More

Start HistoryWired | About the Program | Help | Comments

Smithsonian Institution | Terms of Use | Privacy