Identifying Monotype and Foundry Type

I know this topic has been discussed before, but I hope somebody will be able to clear up a point of confusion that I have over Identifying some type that I have.

I’ve read before that if there is a groove in the middle of the foot, then its always Foundry Type, even if the notch on the side is square. The type that I have, does have a line running across the foot, but I couldn’t describe it as a groove. I can just about feel the line with my fingers, but looking side on, the foot appears to be smooth.

So do I have Monotype or Foundry Type.?

Best wishes

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It’s pretty certain to be Monotype — I believe only the Thompson caster can make a groove in the foot, among Monotype casting equipment. Some of my type has that style of foot you describe and I know it’s Monotype-cast.


Thanks for that Bob. To be honest, I suspected that it was Monotype. Is most type found on ebay Monotype?. I was informed that most tends to be Foundry Type, but I’m beginning to think that the opposite is true.

If you are buying “new old stock” type, the ATF fonts were packaged in longer lines than the Thompson or Monotype fonts…

Kelsey sold both… from the “Connecticut Type Foundry” (Thompson-cast using Monotype mats) or the “New England Type Foundry” - (hard-metal ATF fonts re-sold as their own). - or maybe the other way around. Either case Kelsey sold both.

The most reliable way I know of to compare Barth (ATF)-cast fonts with Thompson/Monotype cast fonts is to look at the color of the metal or the number of nicks on the letters, and the feet. Thompson/Monotype is shiny and one shade only - and seems to have only a single nick at a common height, and often have squared feet. Barth-cast fonts show a range of color when viewed from the side and were nearly always cast with multiple nicks - in very specific positions.. and had a curved groove in the feet.

As an exception to this rule, hard-metal (Stempl-Hass) fonts also had squared grooves cut into the feet.

Fonts on eBay can come from anywhere. The are either old, used or “new-old stock” ATF fonts, or soft-metal mono or Thompson-cast fonts. The only foundry casting ATF-quality type in the last 30 years was Dale Guild Foundry - using Barth casters restored by Theo Rehak. They sold on eBay for a while, but the last news I had is that the entire foundry was packed up for a move to the west. Dan at The Arm can probably supply the most accurate updated status of ATF/Rehak’s old Barth casters…

I also have some European-cast hard-metal Foundry Type (Stempl-Hass,. for example) with half-nicks on the side. Not even full nicks, but only cut halfway through the letter. Odd,. but real….

- AR

Whoa!!!!! Alan’s statement that “Barth-cast fonts……..were nearly always cast with multiple nicks - in very specific positions” only applies to the smallest of sizes. This was mainly because it was very hard to differentiate those tiny faces when looking at the type. The alignment of the nicks was a dead giveaway whether or not all the characters were from the same font. The statement does not hold true for larger ‘display’ sizes.


Just to give you an idea of the amount of nicks that exist for the Univers series, and the ploughs to make them. Photographed in 2014 at Rainer Gerstenberg’s workshop in Darmstadt, in Germany.

image: P1050499.JPG


image: P1050500.JPG


A couple of other points of clarification. Just because Thompsons were made by Monotype (after buying out the original manufacturer) doesn’t mean they were limited in the kinds of type they could cast. The Thompson mechanism can cast hard foundry typemetal just as well as it can cast softer composition typemetal. Several foundries have used them extensively over the years including Barco, M&H and Skyline.

Also, while the standard configuration had a single nick and smooth faces at all point-sizes, you could have the company manufacture custom mould bodies with any configuration of nicks and pinmarks you wanted.

Well-cast type from a Thompson is indistinguishable from any other well-cast foundry type.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

Mmm, seems this issue is confusing to mos people. My situation is that I hot foil, so must use either brass type, Mazak, or at a push; Foundry type. I buy mainly from ebay, where it is very difficult to tell what you’re actually buying, especially as half the time, the seller doesn’t know either.