smallest type cast?

Perhaps of interest: I have a 1 and 1/2 ” X 3” book entitled Quinti Horatii Flacci with main text type 24 lines to the inch. Paris 1828.Says A. Mesnier Bibliopolam. Facing title page, it says “exudebat didot Natu Minor” In pencil someone has written “smallest type ever cast”
(I am not print/type educated; book prob. belonged to gggrand father who was a physician>) I will try to attach pics. Note ruler is in mm not inches.
richard warren

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Sorry, computer illiteracy resulted in failed picture forwarding

I’m curious, I’ll send you a message.

If you have the photo on a computer with Windows, you can use Microsoft Paint to make the photo smaller and save with a new name. Briar Press has a size limit on photos. Also, the name should not have any special characters or spaces, just alphabetical and numerical.

If the page has narrow margins it could be 6 point type, depending on other factors. I would like to see a page as well.


The Monotype Corporation at Salfords in the UK used to give visitors a 12 point em with the Lords Prayer in relief on the end, and with great care this could just about be printed from. As a routine their ordinary system could offer Gill Titling 6 point in four sizes, and the smallest of these prints around one and a half point. I challenged my type caster could this still be done? and I now have a modest fount of the same, Its a devil to set!

the smallest type i have in my collection is 4pt. Anything smaller is too little to hand-set!

2 pt Type was cast by Typefoundries,
6 pt is standard, in Monotype , Ludlow and Lino/ Intertype you have 4 pt, Type

A 2 1/2 point type was created by Henri Didot the Elder in the 1820s. He invented a casting mechanism that cast 100 letters at a time which was called a Polyamatype. The miniature books using this microscopic type were printed by his brother. The first book printed was La Rochefoucauld’s Maximes et Reflexions Morals published by Lefevre in Paris in 1827, it was 124 pages and measures 2 5/8” x 1 5/8”. The second title was the complete works of Horace in Latin, titled Opera Omnia of Quintus Horatius Flaccus published in 1828 by A. Mesnier & A. Sautelet, 237 pages measuring about 3” x 2”. The 2 1/2 point type was used numerous times to print miniature books over the next 70 years. This type is called the “Fly’s Eye” type.

American Type Founders made a font of 3 1/2 point type in the 1890s, the smallest they made. The face was Roman No. 17, and I have a font of it acquired from two sources, both being incomplete, but combined they make a full font. Unfortunately it only has 11 lowercase ‘l’s, so I can do no more than a short display of the type. When the type accidentally falls to the ground it “flutters” because it is so light.

I also have a small font of 4 point Century Expanded, and Century Expanded Italic, and 4 point Franklin Gothic all sold by ATF. I also have a font of Modern Roman with small caps that is 4 point cast on Monotype equipment which prints quite nicely. Several years ago I acquired a large bin of pied type that took weeks to sort - about 80 pounds of 21 different 6 point titling faces - some of which measure 2 points, but technically are not two point type. The 2 1/2 point “Fly’s Eye” type is historically the smallest type cast, and that was accomplished remarkably in the 1820s.

This all blows me away. I hope to see some type or one of the aforementioned books myself one day.

The dropped type “flutters”…I love it!