Singing lead?

Hi all

I’m looking for information on some lead ‘type’ I bought some time ago. I bought type which originates from a printing office in a convent. I bought it here in Belgium, where I live. Most of it are different types of lead, from a foundry in Brussels. All the type was stored in small handmade cases.

But in four cases I did find something else: no characters, but a system to print Gregorian music. It contains more than 200 different symbols or elements to compose and print this music. Has anyone seen this kind of ‘type’ and where could it have been made? What would be the age of this ‘type’? Some markings on the cases are in English, but i think the lead has French height.

image: gregorian_1.jpg


image: gregorian_2.jpg


image: gregorian_3.jpg


image: gregorian_4.jpg


image: gregorian_5.jpg


Log in to reply   7 replies so far

That is incredible. I would love to see a proof of that!


I would too. Sounds wonderful.

Ha Niels, Bram de Does (designer of Lexicon and Trinité) knows a lot about that. He owned several hundreds of kilo of ‘muziek- of notenschrift’. Try to get hold of the reprints of Fournier’s book (Darmstadt university) and you can read more about it. Sometimes music was printed from copperplates, that where engraved first, the notes would be struck in with small punches (Brandstetter in Leipzig was a big printing house doing that), or it would be set using metal type.

There is a small section on music type here

While you could do a print run off the engraved plates, I think that more commonly when the copper plate method was used the plate was used to make a transfer print that was then transferred to a litho stone or plate and the music was printed lithographically.

Hi all

Thank you for your comments. I’ll try to print a proof, but that will take some time … Printing music with this lead type seems very complicated to me!

@Thomas, Ha Thomas! Some libraries in Antwerp hold a copy of the Fournier book (the 1995 version). I’ll try to have a look at it.

Hope to be back with a proof soon.

There is a short piece in American Printer about music type.