What are “filets en cuivre”?

I saw this item on eBay and was wondering what it was. I found a book in Google Books entitled “Caractères de labeur et de fantaisie initiales: initiales, filets en cuivre, coins, ronds, ovales,” but it’s not available online. It looks like some kind of curved rule, but if so how would one lock it up?



image: Filets en cuivre.JPG

Filets en cuivre.JPG

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I think one had to be plastered in order to deal with these in a form.

No kidding. One of the methods used was to pour plaster into all the negative areas left in the form once these had been put in place. The plaster could have easily been broken off and removed once the job was printed and the form broken down.


i’ve seen foolproofs plastering before, i used canning wax and when you are done simply drop it in boiling water and the wax will float to the top.

Isn’t the term used sometimes “investing”, similar to the casting terminology (when you put a wax into the plaster ‘investment’ mixture, before dumout)? I thought that it was called that someplace, but I could be totally wrong here.

Hello Barbara, ‘filets en cuivre’ are brass lines, this is a set of curved ones, that was used at the end of the 19th-century. I’ll have a look at the Fonderie Générale catalogue after Christmas. Do remind me if I don’t get back immediately. If I’m not completely mistaken the Fonderie Générale ended up being incorporated in Deberny & Peignot.
Caractères de labeur are ‘jobbing founts’. An ‘imprimerie de labeur’ would print all kind of small stuff, business cards, letterheads etc.

Thanks, everyone, especially Thomas for having the catalog. I also got an off-list reply suggesting that the box might have been repurposed — that the items are not filets en cuire, that filets en cuire are actually a kind of tool.


I checked out the catalogue for filets en cuivre. They sold them in sets, and the box is probably original, judging by the label inside. However, there are no illustrations in the catalogue. My copy of the catalogue dates from around 1880. Check out ‘The Handy Book of Artistic Printing’, published by Princeton Architectural press.

image: fonderie_generale_2.jpg


image: fonderie_generale_1.jpg


Hi Barbara,

The statement that Filets en cuivre are some kind of tool seems way off-base to me. My French is very very rusty but I believe that “Fabrique de Filets en cuivre” could be translated into “Manufacturers of copper wires.”


Thanks, Thomas and Rick. Thomas, you must have a very nice collection of catalogs. Thanks for showing me those relevant pages. And thanks for referring me to the Artistic Printing book. I have had it on my Amazon wish list for a while and finally plunked down my $26.40.


Rick, for your information:

fil = wire; fil de fer = metal wire; filet = line

à la prochaine fois…

And because it’s nearly the end of the year, two photos from the 1926 Deberny & Peignot catalogue (2 volumes) with some nice ‘filets en cuivre pour mandats’.
Best wishes to everyone!

image: filets_2.jpg


image: filets_1.jpg