Archie J. Little

I recently came into a lot of type still in the original packaging. All different fonts and sizes. On the packaging it says “Archie J. Little, Seattle, USA”. Then it has the font size, and whether it is lower or capital case, and a number. I’d like to find the origins of this type and to be able to identify the type. Any thoughts? Does anyone know where this came from?

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Archie Little (Archie Little Typographers, Seattle) was active in at least 1931. He cast from Lanston Monotype matrices (on equipment not yet known to me) and may have electroformed his own matrices.

Little is of historical significance in part because on May 18, 1931 he received a letter from Phil. T. Nuernberger (developer of the Nuernberer-Rettig Type Caster) with technical information on the subject of electroforming matrices. This letter was published in 1966 in an illustrated edition by the late Paul Hayden Duensing as _Electrolytic Matrices_.

It would be interesting to know the identities of the fonts you have. If they are not standard Lanston Monotype faces, then it is possible that these are from matrices that he electroformed.

David M. MacMillan

This is a sort of a long shot, and I’m guessing that the answer will be negative, but it’s worth checking.

Because of Little’s association with Nuernberger, it more likely than it would otherwise have been that he might have had a Nuernberger-Rettig caster (the N-R was later known as the “Universal”). If so, this would be of historical interest since this machine was not particularly successful (commercially, that is; it cast fine type). Only five are known to have survived, and none of them is presently operational.

The N-R was a relatively conventional pivotal caster adapted for sale directly to printers. Its claim to fame was the way in which it formed the feet of its type. In both hand molds and other casting machines, the foot of the type as cast is in theory flat. As-cast in practice, there is a “jet” of metal sticking out of it; that’s where the metal was injected into the cavity of the mold. This jet is broken off. The roughness where this break occurs is then plowed down to form a groove (and simultaneously to form the two feet on which the type stands).

In the N-R, the area where the jet met the body of the type was recessed. The rough spot left when the jet was broken off was therefore above the feet of the type “in a manner as to be discharged from the mold a finished product ready for use” (as Nuernberger said in US patent 830,358 of 1906-09-04).

Does any of your Archie Little type display such a recessed area between its feet? Or does it just look like conventionally cast type?

For more on the N-R, see:

David M.


Thanks for that information!

Here are some photos of one of the pieces of type. Let me know your thoughts. I probably have 40-50 full sets.

image: type2.jpg


image: type1.jpg


The foot of this type would seem to indicate that it was not cast on a Nuernberger-Rettig.

David M.