Movie for Students about Type History

Hello all,

Well you may know me as an asker of copious questions, but you may not know me as a professor of graphic design.

I’m teaching a history of graphic design course and we are currently in the midst of the 1400’s-1700’s and talking about the advent of the printing press.

I’m wondering if any of you might know of a good movie I could show that talks about the early history of type. Perhaps something about Baskerville, or even as late as William Morris and the industrial revolution.

I’m looking for something I will be able to find and either purchase for a fair price, download, or rent. It would only be shown for educational purposes. I’d love to let them see how the invention of printing has had such an important impact on digital type design. Plus what history student doesn’t enjoy a movie ( and what professor doesn’t enjoy a break from 3.5 hours of straight talking - I swear these are the longest art history classes I’ve ever heard of)

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Hello PantheraPress,

There’s Stephen Fry’s documentary “The Machine That Made Us,” though it’s more about Gutenberg’s press than his type.

I’ll keep thinking …


The Internet Archive is a great site for history and here are 3 links on typography and printing.

Here’s a short video of Stan Nelson hand-casting type.

There’s also a very good documentary about the Linotype machine, which was introduced in 1886, during William Morris’s lifetime. Here’s a link: .


Oh, and there’s “Making Faces,” about Jim Rimmer who designed metal and digital type simultaneously. I haven’t seen it myself yet, but I’ve heard it’s really good.


St Bride library London on its www has a huge long list of films produced, some held at Reading University(contact them directly too?) in typographic dept too-at least it is a comprehensive list

A 1947 vocational film about printing in general is here:

Not all that much on typesetting, but it covers a lot of the process of printing. Very interesting.
Winfred Reed
Black Diamond Press

Barb Hauser mentioned Richard Kegler’s film, “Making Faces,” on the work of the late Jim Rimmer. I’ll add only that, yes, it is exceptional. I’d go so far as to say that it is one of the four most important documents in the history of type-making - the others being Moxon, Fournier, and Legros & Grant.

In addition to the video on Nick Sherman’s site of Stan Nelson casting type, there are several other Stan Nelson film/video items.

Way back in 1985, he did a film at Columbia entitled “From Punch to Printing Type: The Art and Craft of Hand Punchcutting and Typecasting” This is still available, in VHS and DVD transfer, from the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia,
(Their site says only VHS, but I swear I recall somewhere that they now had a DVD.)

More recently, a filmmaker named Doug Burnette started a film on the same subject and got at least as far as filming five short video segments of Nelson from punchcutting to casting. These are on youtube (legitimately, by Burnette) at:

The 1933 Maurice Kellerman film about Goudy, “The Creation of a Printing Type” is available online at
but that transfer is of very poor quality (there are times in it when Goudy shows off his drawings and you see just blank paper). The same film is available in a better transfer in the DVD “extras” for “Making Faces” (yes, there are drawings on the paper!) Yet another reason to buy Kegler’s film.

Carl Schlesinger has not only made an excellent film on the last day of the Linotype at the NY Times, but has reprinted a great many older technical and semi-technical films. Write him at 39 Myrtle Street, Rutherford, NJ 07070 for a paper list. The list I have shows 30 items, some of which are multiple films reissued together. I would recommend especially the 1948 ATF documentary “Type Speaks!” (though I offer the caveat for serious typemaking geeks (such as myself) that some of the methods it shows for matrix making were in fact used only very briefly by ATF - by chance when this film was made).

Of course, most of these cover periods (or technologies of periods) considerably later than the 1450-1700 period you’re looking for. You should probably take a look at the
“Handlist of Films Showing Printing and Typesetting,” compiled by Rob Banham at St. Bride’s. See:

or the list directly at:

David M.

I’m with Barbara. I recently watched Linotype the Film, and it’s really great.

Thank you everyone!

I’m going to to for sure show the linotype film (since you can buy it on itunes), but I plan to show all the shorter videos too. I think I may buy the making faces one for myself haha.