Type Museum London

The Type Museum in London has been closed now for a number of months.
Does anyone know or have any idea as to what is going to happen to it?
I would personally like to offer it support, wherever I can.
I would like to suggest a campaign to keep on display the relics of Englands Typefounding past, rather than locked up in a warehouse, without public access.
Please let me know your thoughts on the matter.

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Hi Hugh,

I know that there was a falling out of sorts and that everything has gone quiet. The only problem is that the theme of the place was ideallistic rather than practical and like so many things committee led. This leads to the ever increasing problem of everyone wanting to be in charge, leaving very few practical heads to do the real graft. Consequently lots of talking and little action.
Many students etc. may want to come and use the facilities when they’re up and running but so few people in this world want to do all the hard graft of getting projects off the ground particularly for no remuneration.
Also getting funding (and this is from experience) is very difficult for what some institutions and education establishments would consider a niche project.
I might add this doesn’t apply to the many enthusiasts out there, but you need enough people committed to get the Type Museum running, and even making money.
Having sounded rather negative, I wholeheartedly support anything that the Type Museum could do to re-open its doors, but where do we start??
Hopefully I’ve set the ball rolling, as I share your concern about a very interesting and valuable collection being mothballed in South London, when things must be used and valued by all.

I have been in contact with Duncan Avery, about the opening of the Type Museum, he stated that ‘The Type Museum is currently under redevelopment.’ I’m not sure what this means, as he didn’t elaborate any further, only that it is not open to visitors.
I have replied to Duncan, offering voluntary support and help with the Type Museum.
So far I have had no reply, (over four weeks now).
Where do we go from here???

I heard a rumour that the V&A has shown some interest in it. That might be a Good Thing. I too hope it opens again soon.

That sounds like good news, if you hear anything concrete let me know. Hopefully this might brush away some of the bureaucracy, or increase it??
Even though the Type Museum is still manufacturing the matrices for the Monotype casters. I hear this may be in the balance?

Re the Type Museum, it may help in understanding the situation if I set out what little I know
about the material held there.

The first part of the collection is in essence the Monotype equipment of the much missed
Curwen Press - with Walbaum matrices etc. This material is or was private property.

The next part is a vast collection of Monotype equipment which came from the factory after that closed down, I understand this is the property of the Science Museum, i.e. the State. A part of this is operational, and can produce and sell you matrices even today, e.g. for a single accented character, god bless them. I am unsure how long this will carry on.

The next major part is the matrices and some equipment from Stephenson Blake Ltd, which
I believe is the property of the Victoria & Albert Museum, i.e. the State.

A gentleman was in the process of sorting all this out, but sadly died with a catalogue only
partly completed.

The Printing Historical Society is aware of the situation.

There is no money, and as e.g. the letterpress gallery in the Science Museum is permanently closed to the public (though the equipment is still there as of today, sealed off.) It would appear that the State cares not at all.

The Treasury is highly unlikely to release any funds to put the situation right.

And yes, its a dreadful situation.

J. Stafford-Baker The Happy Dragons Press

Who was it that has died?

The gentleman that died was, I beleive, a Mr Justin Howe, died terribly young, a great loss
to our letterpress community over here. I don’t know how far he had got with the work, nor what has hapened to any related papers. I find myself wondering if he was related to the late Ellic Howe, master forger for the scecurity services in WW2.

You are right on the first piece. Justin Howe had entered into the task of putting some order into the Type Museum, however not with full control, as I am led to believe.
You have now put the reasons for this into perspective, I never knew that other Museums or private individuals had contributed these items, and I’m sure they would never relinquish full control of said items.
As mentioned before, too many in control and Justin Howe’s tragic untimely death, may of led to its closure?
The big question now, which is on my lips “What will happen to the Type Museum?”
I wouldn’t like to see the parties taking back the exhibits and mothballing them.
This is still (I know), a worthwhile project.
The other part, I am unable to help you with

in passing there is an excellent new museum for printing now open at Cupar Angus in the Kingdon of Fife in Scotland. I very strongly recommend it, its strong on type.

The Type Museum has remained closed to the public for over a year now.
Justin Howes (d. 2005) had completed preliminary handlists to the Stephenson Blake archive (this exists only in a digital archive and lever arch files at the museum). The title pages can be viewed at www.typemuseumsociety.org/SBatTM.html only exist in bound form in a copy presented to the Pilgrim Trust (London) who partly funded Justin’s curation of the Stephenson Blake collections. It should be noted that the Stephenson Blake collections are vastly more important than most realise since they fairly systematically acquired many of the assets of contemporary and earlier foundries as they became the last major commercial English foundry. Check out the family tree at the front of their catalogues, that they and the Type Museum having acquired them were so proud of at http://typemuseumsociety.pbwiki.com/f/FoundryTypeAncestry.pdf

The problem at the Type Museum was unfortunately not an overblown committee bureaucracy but actually too few trustees, unincorporated and with too many other commitments, with too small a range of expertises to fundraise effectively. The Museum suffered at the same time from its own success in becoming the key repository of the English type founding collections, beyond their ability to find means for its display, access and growth.

While Howard Bratter was director the Museum began to confront the scale of the challenge and improved the access to colleges whose staff and students instantly recognised the importance of this concentrated type design resource, many becoming active volunteers while the Museum remained open. Systematic development of the display of key collections in addition to the Monotype material (until then still in shipping cases) was undertaken. The Museums financial records were brought up to date and reconciled - exposing a level of need that the trustees appeared to be overwhelmed by. Howard and volunteers made millions of historic mats in all languages available and intelligible by rescuing and refilling the safes in which they had been historically stored before the final closure of the Stephenson Blake factory in Sheffield see: (previous link and) www.typemuseumsociety.org/Page1.html The Delittle wood type pattern collection was made accessible alongside the original pantograph cutting equipment.

Since Howard resigned in frustration as Director (and set up his new London based letterpress shop) there has been no positive news coming out of 100 Hackford Road - except for the amazing continued loyalty and goodwill of Duncan Avery and Kumara Patel the manager and punchcutter respectively continuing the Monotype Hot Metal services to the Monotype letterpress community.

There may have been also a small amount of private press work done on the site with some of the equipment still owned by individuals connected with the museum but no public or educational access has been allowed. One of Howard’s legacies was the use of the newly laid out letterpress shop in the (containing some fine presses from the former Clowes Printing Museum) as the print shop featured in the Beatrice Potter film sadly at the moment the only way to see it!

As the supporters of the Type Museum we are still awaiting some form of statement from the Type Museum Trust or the NMSI Science Museum who have been paying the rent for the Type Museum site. The NMSI in concert with the V&A have an overarching duty to at least safeguard the collections.

There are hundreds of supporters who have been consistently asking partly through our www.typemuseumsociety.org and googlegroup http://groups.google.com/group/TypeMuseumSociety - like your contributors what they can do to assist but the trustees have chosen not to take advantage of this while they remain absolutely silent as to what their plans are. We wish them well but there is universal frustration with their lack of openness even to offers of assistance.

While the collections remains in one place those that care have not given up their intention of seeing the Museum reopen with renewed enthusiasm for its fantastic treasure and what it means for the history and art of communication. Thank you for hosting this discussion.


I’m visiting London in the next few days and my plan was to visit the Type Museum! It is a pity that is close.

I am traveling from Mexico, and at the moment studying a Master in Editorial design. Does anybody have an idea about another museum where I could go, related to this subject -E.d?

I wrote to Duncan but never replied.

Greetings to all,


Go to Saint Bride’s, just off Fleet Street, it’s the finest collection of books and documents on printing, typecasting etc. around. The British Library shouldn’t be missed either.

Today I was very privileged to view the collection at this most inspiring of venues.

The knowledge, passion, and enthusiasm of the people involved in this project is infectious! I learnt so much, and to see the amazing mechanics and labour intensive way of producing hot metal type on working ‘antique’ machinery first hand was truly astounding and very sobering in this instant-fix digital age that we now occupy.

I cannot sing The Type Museum’s praises high enough and I am very happy that it seems as though they have turned a corner, and that the skills resplendent in a living breathing working archive will command the wider audience that it so richly deserves.

I am going to be in London this summer, is there any chance of visiting the musuem? Does anybody have any idea who I would contact?

It is closed to the general public at the moment. I believe people doing research can get access.
Email [email protected]

While in London pop into St Brides Library, they are now only open Wednesday. They are just off Fleet Street and a short walk from St Paul.

The St Bride Library is open on Wednesdays without an appointment, but access is also provided on other weekdays by prior arrangement. I work there at least four days a week and am happy to arrange appointments for Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays - and even the occasional Monday.

Contact: [email protected] for further details.

Hope something happens for typemuseum, I like railway steam engines but SOOOOO MUUCCHH Lottery fund money seems to go on restoring yet another ancient steam loco in UK , surely Lottery Funding could be sought for type museum, or even finding funding to make an application…..how about contacting someone like British Printing Industries Federation if they could take up the cause..