How many sorts in any one font?

I hope I asked this question properly.

I am the recipient of several trays of fonts which raised the following question for me. Just how many sorts of each character make up a font. I assume one would have more A’s than X’s but are there general guidelines? Thanks.

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Got it and the chart is very helpful. But, how does one know if a typeface is a 14A or a 12A, etc.? I assume that different typefaces have different counts of A’s. Thanks - Neil

Typefaces wouldn’t be 14A or 12A—fonts are 14A or 12A. You could have a 14A font of a typeface that also comes 12A. Count the As and you know how many As are in the font. The hard part is reverse-engineering the fonting scheme, not every font has the same amount of Es for each A.

I think ATF standardized schemes and that’s what most foundries would cast to. Different languages would need different fonting schemes. If it’s a used font, chances are certain sorts have been lost or damage so it won’t be a full font no matter what.

It is not a property of the typeface, but rather something decided by each typefoundry.

Each individual typefoundry has/had their own fonting scheme (though of course many simply borrowed well-known ones). Here, for example, is the standard American Type Founders Company fonting scheme as published in 1953

The Skyline Type Foundry scheme mentioned earlier is based on the ATF scheme, with several well-considered changes to adapt it to the needs of today’s printer.

Here’s another scheme, that of Castcraft:

(To be honest, I haven’t checked to see if it differs from ATF’s.)

You might also look at the fonting schemes of other currently operating foundries, such as M&H, Quaker City, Swamp Press, etc.

Given a foundry’s fonting scheme, whether a particular casting of a font is going to be 14A, 12A, etc. is a decision made by the foundry.

So if you really wanted to know exactly how many of each sort came in the original package, you’d have to determine which foundry cast the type and then find the documentation of their fonting schemes (if it survives).

Even then that wouldn’t necessarily reflect what is in your cases, as they might have a complex history.

If you’re just looking to get a general idea of the completeness of your cases, you might simply find something similar in a well-known catalog (e.g., one of ATF’s, historically, or any of the current typefoundry catalogs) and see how close your cases come to it.

David M. MacMillan

This is all terrific info and thanks very much. It’s the reverse engineering issue of having trays with type but not knowing for a particular typeface how many As, etc. But, this is surely enough to get started. Thanks to all.

lots of info on internet google, example, letter frequency gives wikipedia letter frequency in [English] english; but if you want [USA] english, you need about 90 times as many u because of the spellings colour and color; also, similarly, many more z where z replaces s in criticise to become criticize.

the linotype keyboard gives a clue.

many answers on google, for example, i found the capering man in Brisbane, Australia; also cackleberries.