Just to introduce myself …

Hi all,

I have begun to develop an interest in ‘real’ printing after thirty-plus years of churning out a lifetimes worth of printed matter using MS Word and more recently Adobe InDesign.

I will shortly be aquiring an Adana 5 x 3 press, so Briar Press is a timely discovery for me, as a good place to start my learning process.

I’m sure as time passes, I’ll have plenty of questions and cries for help ! There are two starter questions I have though …

1) What is an EM ? I’m familiar with Points and Picas (though use of InDesign) but have yet to find out how long an EM is in Inches / Centimeters. What does EM stand for ?

2) I have a few large sized pieces (72 pt) of old lead type, the bodies (shanks?) of which are 3/4 of an inch deep. Is this a standard depth for all metal type ? If I purchase more for my Adana (say on eBay) is it safe to assume that letter sets are all of this depth ?

All the best,


Bristol, UK

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There used to be a group of printing types that met regularly at the Industrial Museum in Harborside. I stumbled into a meeting when visiting my daughter when she was at University there.

I see that that is now closed and being rebuilt, but you might ask around to see if anyone knows where they are now meeting. The museum had a nice collection of presses including a Washington handpress and a couple of small Albions and a small platen.

An em, btw, is a measurement dependent on the body size of the type. A 12 point em is 12 points wide as well as high. A 6 point em is 6x6 points. Named so because the m character is often cast onto a square body. An en is conveniently half an em. Spacing material is measured in ems. 3 em, 2 em, em, en, 3 to the em, 4 to the em, 5 to the em.

Type in the US and England is .918 inches tall. European type is slightly different.

Hi Arie,

Ah yes, the Industrial Museum. I do remember seeing some presses there. It also had an impressive array of Rolls-Royce Gas Turbine engines, and some Bristol Cars.

I will ask around about the enthusiasts group - thanks for the tip. Thanks also for explaining the meaning of the EM and EN.


Updated. I’ve just found my first Adana !

After seeing Adana Five-Threes come and go on eBay, a chance Google search found me one at an online Oxfam store. It is in very good condition and came with a small suitcase full of funiture, type, spaces, quads etc. The price ? 19.99 UK Pounds !

So a great Adana and the money is going to a great cause - thanks Oxfam !