Letter Press and Typeset questions

I have just inherited a fairly large set of typesetting sorts (I think that is what they are called) letters and trays and spacers. I was told they are worth a lot but I am not sure and I also need to know what I would need to try to use them and also how to sort them as they are not in the best order. They are metal and I am not sure when they were made as the person that owned them is no longer around to help and any help is appreciated.

Log in to reply   4 replies so far

If possible you should post photos of the whole lot and some closeups of the individual sorts. Include a lowercase m and an uppercase H because sometimes those sorts have identification numbers on them. Also, if there is anything stamped on the side of the sorts, try to get a closeup of that, too.


We really need a lot better description or pictures to offer any advice at all.

We had a guy come into the museum this last fall with one absolutely filthy typecase that had been in his barn for several years. He said he picked it up at an estate sale. It also had two totally rusty composing sticks on top of it. The case was mainly filled with linotype slugs and a few non-descript and incomplete monogram fonts and a few electrotype cuts. A fairly pathetic sight.

Anyway, his deal was that he was thinking about donating it to the museum so that he could get a tax credit for his donation. A few of us talked it over amongst ourselves and I don’t think anyone could come up with anything over $40, and that would have been extremely generous. He hummed and hawed and said he thought it should be worth a lot more than that because of it’s artistic and antique value, etc. etc.

After a few minutes of going back and forth I finally just asked him just what kind of a figure he had in mind. He said “$2,000.00”. You could have knocked us over with a feather. Thanks, but no thanks.

Like others have said, it is hard to give a value without more information. You should probably look up “letterpress type” on e-bay so that you have a round number to think of per drawer of type.
If you want to try to identify your fonts, there is a pretty good online tool. It will take some time, but you can have an idea of the names associated with your particular font.
As to your question about what is needed to use your lead type, the simple answer is a complete and operational press with a chase, limited furniture, and some quoins to lock it up. Ink and paper are next. For a more complete explanation, scan Five Roses Press’ intro to letterpress.

Thanks guys for all the help. I will get the pictures in the next few days. This is more help to me tahn anything else I have tried.