Is it safe to combine two identical (size and ID) ATF fonts?

I know that before combining two identical (size and typeface) fonts of Monotype type, one should really check the baseline before combining. And that foundries have you send an “m” or similar letter if you want more of a font.

Does one need to verify baselines of two ATF fonts (with matching sizes and ATF ids) before combining in same case?
While it doesn’t hurt to verify, it occurred to me that they may have standardized this, and that it wasn’t necessary. And I don’t think I’ve every seen anything in old catalogs about sending in a sort to match baselines.

Does anyone know?

Log in to reply   9 replies so far

Hi Laura,

I forty + years of playing with this stuff, I have NEVER heard of the identical font and size of ATF fonts not perfectly matching up. The problem with Monotype fonts is that they were cast in different places by different sources and they had to dial-in width and alignment specs on their casters. These differed. AFT type was cast to exacting specifications, always at the same settings.

I think that pretty much covers it.


Thanks Rick. It’s what I hoped, and nice to know I don’t need to worry about it!

Monotype, Type Alignment.!! … Ramblings from the U.K.

Bona Fide, Indentured apprenticeship, on the Monotype from 1954, and just coming around the second time.!!!

It was generally recognised that in the case of standard Monotype, with standard Matrices of *monotype* origin we all worked to Alignments and Alignment charts supplied and specified by Monotype.

Therefore, if it were type being cast In House, or from any Foundry or Typecaster,s using Monotype mats, ALL were aligned to the relevant slip Gauges, …normally in the form of 4 figures engraved into dedicated/specified *Slips* dictated by a specific mathematical Formula from the Face and Set size (width) of every recognised/standard Type.!

By implication, Standard Monotype as cast In House or from
(way back) Yendalls, Startype, Riscatype, Mouldtype, etc., etc.etc., would all be to the standard alignment, from the relevant *Slip* gauge.

The only exceptions would have been where a specific Job required an *Off Body* size, as in (for example) the entire job to be 2 point leaded. (and no leading attachment on the Caster or minimal supply of leads) meaning a job that was to be set in 9 point but to appear 2 Point leaded was set 9 on 11 point, and with No Standard *Slip* and No existing Type to align with, the 3 Em rules with the centre one reversed 180 degrees gave perfect alignment, across the board.

The only time we may have resorted to a visual check, comparing an existing, and possibly worn piece with a proposed *New* casting would have been in the case of a Sans Serif face (worn) by using the *cross bar* on a cap *H* OR, possibly on a well Worn Serif Face where the bottom serif has taken a beating, as viewed in a Normal (Monotype) Alignment device.

As a very basic and D.I.Y. alignment check, to verify the truth and accuracy, (or otherwise) of 2 pieces of type from different sources, with just a little acquired skill, a steady hand and a good eye, AND a Stanley knife or Exacto knife blade, it is possible to replicate a Monotype, Alignment device, which is in fact a micrometer thread >adjustable< Knife Edge device.???

ATF had strict in house checks for alignment. Things changed a bit at the Dale Guild due to necessity. ATF should always align with ATF-cast type, but the same alignment is not always a guarantee with Dale Guild as there were documents lost, fewer casters on the floor and not always an original font or sort to reference.


When in doubt, you can mix key characters in the stick and compare with a loupe, or proof.
(I should have done that when adding new M&H Bembo to my 30-year-old case, because they are now casting from a new font of mats with a different drive and alignment.)
I’m not at the shop to check this, but I think I have two cases of ATF Typo Script that can’t be combined because of incompatible kern structures.

Thank you, all!

Yes, I have been checking my ATF fonts in stick with magnifier, but now I’ll know that it’s fairly safe to expect to mix ATF-made fonts.

Parellel_imp - Interesting caveat on changing of kerning structure as a possible issue with relevant fonts. I wouldn’t have thought of that.

DGM - good point about Dale Guild castings. A lot of what was cast is fresh in my mind, and those castings look so shiny new, but over time it’ll be harder to tell a DG casting from an ATF one. Do you know if there is a list somewhere of all the DG castings? Handy for a number of reasons, including this.

Hi Laura,
For a moderately painful poke into the past, I had a look at the old site using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. You can see a lot of what was being cast as well as a list of the matrices which were accessible at least at that moment. Sigh…

Please keep in mind that many of the things listed here were not cast, but the matrices were there at the time, or were available through a friend of the foundry.

It is also important to note that the era of Dale Guild production that this site relates to is only a fraction of what happened there- the foundry was started in the 1970s. I highly recommend Theo’s book The Fall of ATF if you want to know more about this stuff!


image: DGTF-0157 1.jpg

image: DGTF-0068.jpg

image: DGTF-0342.jpg

image: DGTF-0049.jpg

image: DGTF-0038.jpg

image: DGTF-0034.jpg

Two things, Mick on Monotype has forgotten to mention that before the alignment slips came into wide use, there were two other methods around, (a) tsking three em rulesand turning the middle one round, and (b) the dreaded ‘star target’
neither were much good Gill Sans founts cast by Adana themselves found second hand are all over the place.
Buyers beware! A full set of alignment slips cost quite a bit
and too often ignorant managers didn’t understand the need to spend the money.
And Re UK Founders type, Stephenson Blake cast ALL their output accurately to one of three alignments, Point Body Line, Point Art Line, and Point Title Line. These differed by precise point amounts, and with a bit of one or one and a half point lead any dead alignment was easy.
Not a lot of people know that!

H.P., with respect You are just a little out of date and/or behind the times.
i.e, around the middle of last year, gone, and 2 years before, I posted several references to Monotype Alignment slip gauges, including the 3 methods You mention, have only been using all 3 and more?? since the mid 50,s.
To recap perhaps, my post(s) were quite comprehensive, in that Most Houses using Monotype on a consistent an REGULAR basis , obviouously, used Standard slip gauges.
Where the One off, job went through the factory, probably never to be repeated, 3 em rules were used.

IF there was a possibility that the job might come back for a reprint or an update, short of purchasing a slip gauge (on the off chance)? we merely made our own and enclosed
2 - 3 examples in the (filed). job bag.

THE METHOD!! as the quad was *Miked* up at the start of every job, for the SET size, we just *Miked* a space to the exact size for the Face and size, to be used.
An actual example, as used for the circumstances above, Century Schoolbook, series 477, 12 point, 11 3/4 set, alignment was exactly and precisely .1280” a space was *Miked* up to that exactly, the top face was lightly polished to replicate the top face (to view) of a standard steel slip., only we cast several for In House, for using or filing and a few spare for passing on to other Mono, users when *Mumping * was rife and we were all doomed anyway.

Ideally Any *House* that ran a Supercaster in tandem with a Composition machine would have the Slips produced on the Super.,via 24 point spaces, around Mid or Thin range to the correct thickness (obviuosly)? not only worked perfectly but came very, very, close to the format of the genuine article, sometimes even scribing the 4 figure (figure) with a specially ground, redundant Linotype space band, PLUS drilling a 1/16” hole to locate on the normal slip filing rack.

The 1/16” drill as above, was that normally used for the Top bore of a standard Montype composition nozzle, AND the standard, normally used Drill for Tacking Plates down, followed by the minature countersink, on the flanges of the Plates,. . Apologies that I do not know how to retrieve and republish my previous posts form the Archives.