Metal Type

Hello all!

I apologize if this had been covered before, I’m sure it has just didn’t find a thread. I have some pristine metal type that is still in the original boxes and was wondering the best way to keep them from oxidization down the road. some of it that i have used slightly is slightly discolored and was wondering if anyone happened to have a photo or two of what oxidized metal type starts to look like. I have searched for images on google and didn’t see any. When I clean up some old type and drawers I cleaned the grime off those pieces and have covered them in oil until the drawers are ready. Is lightly coating the new type in oil and wiping it before putting them in a type drawers the way to go? Or am I off the mark?


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Long term, oil tends to turn to brown/yellow gloop that attracts dust and coats the bottom of the drawer and is a pain to clean off.

For medium term, I use 20% 3-in-1 oil mixed with white spirit in a small spray bottle which seems to work well, but I do have a regular routine of checking wiping and topping up. It wipes off easily for printing.
Barb Hauser put this suggestion forward on BP when the question came up a couple of years ago. (Hence I know it as ‘Barb’s Spritzer’ :o)

I have always put a little straight kerosene on a brush and applied it to the top (face) of new type while it is still tied-up before distributing it. The kerosene dries fairly quickly and leaves a minute ‘oily’ coating on the typeface so that oxidation does not occur. I has never left any brown/yellow gloop or residue.

I’ve been doing this for nearly 40 years and it works for me.


Just like an old cast iron skillet. Using it will season it. By being inked and cleaned it will develop resistance to corrosion.

To clarify, kerosene (aka ‘paraffin’) gasoline and white spirit have a tendency to vaporise, while lubricating oils don’t (as you’d hope).

Exactly! Kerosene does vaporize but it also leaves behind a very thin film which protects the type from oxidizing. It also has the benefit on not leaving an ‘oily’ residue which also tends to attract dirt/dust and lint in storage. There is no need to wipe-off your type before using it if it had been washed in kerosene before storing it.