Extra small spacing

Since the ad I posted disappeared into the pages of classified ads with no visibility at all, I would like to put it to the group: Does anyone have any extra, or know if anyone can cast any 4 and 5 point spacing material?


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I think that Fritz Klinke has the machinery to cut brass and copper thin spaces—you might inquire if he can cut 4- or 5- point.

Paul, why set something that nobody can see??? i try not to set anything smaller than 12 point, and i’m having trouble reading that. But if you insist on that small stuff i’d try Quaker City, in Pennsylvania, or Ed at Swamp Press here in Massachusetts.

From my understanding Monotype only went down to 5 points, although I have never seen any Monotype that small. I have a large (isn’t that oxymoronic) lowercase font of 4 point type that I have yet to identify, plus some 5 point Boxhead Gothic and Century Expanded. I would like to use this stuff for miniature books while I still can see to set it.


Aren’t you supposed to get around that oxymoron by describing a font strong?

If you saw 4 point type you would realize that strong is an oxymoron also.


With reference to the query ref 5pt spaces ,a friend has come to me with this little gem for you all .
I list as follows:
Our mate michael (Tolberts living disciple) has asked me to add this.
He can cast for you, at Amberley museum on this coming sunday, a quantity of 5ptspaces as ,quads,nuts,thick,mids,thins and possibly even thinner with perfect conditioned type carrer and good type metal he cando you quads at 1 1/2 quad width ,using tricks learned 40 years ago with mould blade adjustments set to suit.
Nuts from 10pt = 5pt nuts from 8pt = pt,thicks from 12pt = 4pt all sized accurately on the square quad ,works perfectly.
Future access to a supercaster with experienced operator on our part or advice from the old chap with the ability to explain how to do using the micrometer adjusments of the head to produce required sizes in perfect multiples or used lengthways and then checked for accuracy with a standard micrometer ,all judiciously inspected at 20-30 em blocks in the steel proving stick normally attached to the supercaster product table .

That would be fabulous Peter. I assume a donation to the museum would be in order. Let me know how it works out.


I will find out the best way to sort this one ,it may require paying in some roundabout way but the process is possible as we are hardly taking work from anyone as there have been no takers to your post so obviously we are helping as it were !!

I note some complaints about 5pt.

Ever notice something called an “agate” on your pica stick ?
What the heck is an agate anyway ?

Long ago, someone realized the finest font size that someone with good vision could read un aided was about 5.5pt.

Classifieds were printed in agate. Fine print in contracts were printed in agate.

It could be that this 5pt is actually agate, or possibly 5 is the smallest anyone casts.

Good luck on hair spacing for 5pt. I dont think Fritzs machine does smaller than 6 or 8.

Hair spacing is absolute. 1pt = 1pt.
“To the M” spacing is relative.
An N in 18pt = an M in 9pt.

A few case layouts allow for a 6 to the M, but without a caliper, good luck getting it back in the right place.
Similar priblems pop up with 5-M.
Above 12pt, I can feel the difference between 3 and 4.
I dont see a point (bad pun) to 5 or 6-M except in very large font sizes. (IE 42pt etc)

Tabletop people seldom use larger than 36pt if that.

That said, our shop justifies to a quarter point. (Steel)

Does anyone else go that far?
If you could get the 1/4pt spaces WOULD you ?

We need some more made for our shop.
We are checking so see if others would be interested in going in with us on an order to have a bulk run quarterpoint spaces.

Any takers?

I have both 4 and 5 point brass and copper spaces in stock, as well as other odd sizes like 9 pt, 11 pt and 22 pt.It is easy to set the machine. We use ATF point standards and use an ATF point micrometer. The only problem I have is cutting 72 pt in copper—the strip material tends to buckle as it is pushed against the stop immediately before the metal is sheared.

This is the ATF thin space machine making 14 pt copper spaces:


The spaces are cut from a roll of copper, not shown, that weighs initially about 30 pounds. The strip of copper is machine driven against an end stop set to the proper point size and a knife edge shears the copper which then falls into the container shown in the picture. The drive speed is constant so the metal has to be oiled so there is some slippage in the feed drive when the metal hits the end stop. In the smaller sizes, we make about 5 spaces a second, and fewer in the next 2 slower drive speeds. This machine carries ATF serial number 3000 and is with its original maple topped work table. Hal Sterne purchased it at the ATF auction in 1993 for $5. I think it dates to the 1890s, maybe earlier as the standards for the 1/2 and 1 pt spaces were set up in 1886. This tool has probably cut tens of millions of spaces over its lifetime and continues to do a great job. I have been running it almost every day for an hour or two for the last two weeks.

Three things: The Times in London at one time carried its small ads in four and three-quarter point. The Times Roman face punches were modified-quite-a-bit versions for these matrices.
Also Gill Sans Titling was specially made in four sizes intended to be cast on a six point body. Presumably to compete with Spartan/Plate Gothic series. The smallest
prints about a 2 point face. I have it in case to print the conditions on the back of old style ‘Edmondson’ railway tickets.
And didn’t the Monotype four line maths system embody some four and a half point symbols?

The sub-pica / 12pt old English sizes were as follows with approximate* post-1898 point sizes:

Minikin or semi-nonpareil 3 to 3.5 pts
Brilliant or half-minion 3.5 to 4 pts
Gem 4 pts
Diamond 4.5 pts
Pearl 5 pts
Ruby (Agate in the USA) 5.5 pts
Nonpareil 6 pts
Emerald 6.5 pts
Minion 7 pts
Brevier 8 pts
Bourgeois 9pts
Long primer 10 pts
Small pica 11 pts.

I don’t use anything below 10 pt but as I sometimes set small caps 10 pts that might approximate to 7.5 or 8pt on 10pt body. I’ve set tiny quantities of 7 or 8pt and found it irksomely fiddly.

[*H.Whetton “Practical printing and binding”, London, 1946, p.12; G.A.Glaister “Glossary of the book”, London, 1960, p.421]

Just in passing, the noises one made when speaking in the comp room were not so obvious from the spellings correctly referred to by The Free Press, as follows
Bourgeois was not pronounced as it would be for the the social grouping but BER-JOICE
For Nonpareil the sound was NOM-PRULL
and for Pica its always PIE-KA not PICK-A.

These were Cockney voices by the way, but I think it was
pretty much nationwide, but ?? Scotland? - I dont know.
and as regards ‘Pica’ dimensions there was some confusion when they invented typographers, who provided comps with marked up sheets - to tell them how to do their jobs. They didn’t always mean 12 point! But they meant well.