Using foil stamping type for letterpress

We are looking at some exquisite type that is used for foil stamping. It has a much lower shoulder than letterpress lead has. Given that it was intended to be punched deep into book covers, can I use it to print? I’m not sure if it is type high, but it looks like it. Is it usable? Thanks in advance for any input you have.


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I have a handfull or so brass fonts and mine will mix and print with regular foundry types. I have heard that some fonts of brass type are not type-high however. I guess it depended on the manufacturer and the type of machine/applicator it would have been used on.

I can’t think of a better handset type for those that prefer deep impression because the depth of the shoulder and the hardness of the brass would seem ideal for this.

Because brass type is generally used for foil stamping and bindery operations, there is not a lot of variety of available faces/sizes out there and it is rather costly because of the base material expense. Also note that brass type fonts are usually very small in character count simply because they usually were only needed to set a title or a short line.

Simply check and see if your font is type high. If it turns out to be slightly shorter you can possibly use an underlay to get it up to the right height.



I have some brass hot foil type which is about 4mm thick. I use it on a flat bed lever press with the type stuck to a piece of wood using double sided tape.

Foolproof: Brass type is made to the same type height as for Printer’s type, specific to the country. There is a lot of older Brass type floating around which was made before STANDARDS were established. The flat Brass type is used in Blocking press (sometimes called Arming Presses).
But as you stated, the variety of styles is limited. It was more varied in the early 19th century in Europe. But that stuff is pricey.
Why not look for a local Hot-metal house and have new, fresh type every time and a variety of faces to boost?

But if you have nothing available to you, just treat the Brass type carefully, it’s expensive to replace.

Most of the brass type made in the U.S. was made by either the Missouri Brass Type Foundry or American Type Founders (I think MBTF made the brass type for ATF after the twenties or so). I have catalogs from both of these companies dating from 1907 to 1936. Both state in their introductions that they can make type to any height (generally ordered taller than type-high if a different size was required), but the default size was type-high, so I suspect most American made brass type is the correct size. Both catalogs also state that brass type should not be used on smooth paper—they didn’t say why not. So, compare the height with your standard type (or better, use a type-high gauge) and print on the most textured paper you can find.

I know very little about this topic and am looking for some guidance. My husband salvaged a large collection of hand-etched steel dies from his prior employer…532 sets
(male and female cuts) and 725 individual pieces. The dies were used to print foil labels for all different products. Along with them, he had a hand operated metal press machine, manufactured in the 1800s by the R.A. King Co. He compiled 16 3 ring binders, 3 ” , with sample embossed labels on index cards, with customer order information. c. 1927 - 1985. My husband has Alzheimers
and in an effort to preserve the collection, I donated it to
The Heritage Center in Dayton, Ohio. Their goal is to dis-
play and commemorate the history of manufacturing com-
panies in the Dayton area. Can anyone help me deter-mine a way of valuing the collection, or put me in the right direction? Any help is appreciated.. Thank you. Jen

I have a collection of brass type about 6 mm thick it came with the hot foil machine i was given ( table Model ) dont seem to fit my machine must be a special gig
Can anyone help with this problem as Iam stumped i live in Brisbane Australia us there any hot foil stampers willing to help me
Caboolture Kid