Casting Type

Does anyone know where I can learn more about casting hand-set type on the east coast?

I am a 29-year-old letterpress printer concerned about keeping the art alive for generations down the line. Hopefully I can help keep presses running for the next turn of the century.

I would love to get my hands on some equipment to cast type, but before I jump in too far I would like to learn from someone that still knows how to use it. Thanks for any info that you would like to share.


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Casting is an interesting process. I did some short films to preserve and document the process. Search the discussion threads for some more info, but the basics:

If you want to cast foundry type, talk to Theo Rehak. (New Jersey)

If you want to hand-cast, the definitive resource is Stan Nelson, historian and mouldmaker extraordinaire. (Maryland)

There are a few other people on the east coast hand-casting, and a number casting with machines (both lino and mono/thompson).

For an overview of the hand-casting process from an historical perspective, take a look at these shorts:

It is easy (if a bit expensive) to get started…Hard to master, and the biggest problem you’ll encounter won’t be casting…It will be finding or making matrices. Drop me an email, and I can give you some more info about what equipment is needed and who to contact to get you started.

Some quick items…

On the handcasting side of things, Stan Nelson’s 1986 video “From Punch to Printing Type: The Art and Craft of Hand Punchcutting and Typecasting” is still available from the Rare Book School at the Univ. of Virginia.
It is item V1. You’ll have to find a VHS player to view it, though!

On the hand-and-machine casting side of things, the biennial meeting of the American Typecasting Fellowship will be next June in Piqua, Ohio.

I’ve begun to put a little bit of bibliography online at:
but already it is out of date. The notes at the start are the important part (Koch, Warde, Smeijers, Nelson, Drost, etc.; it’s worth slogging through Moxon, even.)

One other random note - though you may be thinking in terms of individual types for handsetting, if you’re interested in making type don’t overlook the Ludlow. It is a beautifully simple way to make type, the equipment is still available (for a while, at least), the typefaces are of high quality (R. Hunter Middleton saw to that), and there’s considerable knowledge and support for it in the hot metal community.

David M.

Hey Jason,
You should try to join us for the ATF meetup in June in Ohio. It’ll be a chance to meet a lot of the folks involved in casting type.


Thanks for the info everyone! I definitely plan on coming out to the ATF meetup. Hopefully I can get a little more knowledge under the belt before I go.

You could visit M&H type if you’re ever in San Francisco, they have a great tour of the typecasting operation.

If anyone reading is interested in monotype stuff, there’s a Craigslist ad for some monotype matrices in Pennsylvania:

Hi Jason,

An important book you’ll want on typecasting is Theo Rehak’s “Practical Typecasting” available from Oak Knoll Press. Theo worked for ATF and when it closed he acquired their Barth casters and numerous molds. He still casts type on a limited basis at Dale Guild Foundry. Also, you might want to check with some of the other typecasters like M&H here in San Francisco if you get to town. Go there and ask for Kenny. Also, you might check with some of the independent casters here on Briar Press like Skyline Type Foundry. Since these guys are all casting today, they may be able to provide advice on which casters to buy, which to avoid, and how to get started.



I didn’t know ATF ‘10 was firmed up. That’s good to know, it was a great group last time!

I’m hoping I can make it… I might have a film about the subject to show at that point.


for a rundown of operations at the Stempel Foundry before they ceased operations in 1986.

Schriftenservice Stempel in Frankfurt is still casting, as well as Fundacion Tipografia Bauer in Barcelona and have a look at this as well, this was during the Frankfurt Bookfair in October 2009.

Sorry, you have to look at this video, it’s in German.

So schön können Bücher sein