A typographical dilemma with associated query

I ask you fellow press people, with regards to a dilemma I face. I acquired a full set of type, well priced, size 10 pt bold., yet with a bitter dearth of a particular sort. Do I dare proceed with text of harried, twisted words to accommodate the sort I lack? Or do I scrap the almost perfect face, for the desire of a sort so critical? The very sort withheld from these very words?! I shudder at the thought, almost as much as I do this prose. Perhaps there is a sympathetic soul with a typecaster device equipped to post via mail a multitude of the sought after sort? The face lacks rarity, is quite popular, created first by Giambattista B. at the time of the late 1700s. Might this dilemma be resolved? What does the everyday impresser do, faced with such a difficult impasse?

Your thoughts are graciously received,

Joseph L

(tl;dr - I basically have a case of 10pt Bodoni bold without any n/N’s. What to do? Thanks all!)

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There may be some of us who could come to your rescue. Is the type ATF or Monotype? I think I have a pretty good case of ATF 10pt. Bodoni Bold which could do without a couple “N” characters if it would match yours, but if Monotype, you may have to search further.

Hi Joseph,

Limitations are often the root of creativity, as you demonstrated in your post, which I very much enjoyed. There have been entire books written without e’s.

You could try contacting NA Graphics in Colorado or Don Black in Toronto (see the Yellow Pages). They both have inventories of ATF type — often not complete fonts, but that’s not what you need. Dave Churchman may also be able to dig up something. M&H Type in San Francisco has 10-point Bodoni Bold monotype, and may be able to cast some sorts that are close to what you have (perhaps you can send them a sort to match the lining).

But maybe something will turn up here, and you could also try the Letpress list or put a want ad in The Printer.

Good luck — let us know what turns up!


Hello, Joseph

A clever post, to be sure, well crafted, beautifully wrought!

I had a similar dilemma recently: ATF 14 point Park Avenue with no capital Ks. Turned out that Sal Zampino had an unwrapped package of the very same. You could try Sal as well as the other sources mentioned here. Even if he doesn;’t have it, you should be able to find a solution with some luck and persistence. Let us know how you fare!


For ATF faces also don’t forget to check in with The Dale Guild Type Foundry. We have a lot of the original matrices and casting machines.

Daniel Morris
The Dale Guild/The Arm Letterpress/The Cooper Union
Brooklyn, NY

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Wow, thanks for all the responses! It’s certainly puzzling as to why the n’s are gone - it’s like they just got up and left. I have new found respect for the 14th letter.

To my untrained eye, my guess is that the type is monotype. There are no feet or pinmarks, nick 1/3 up from the base, and the metal is pockmarked in some spots (not harder foundry metal I take it). Still could be Thompson cast. Any thoughts?

Guess I’ll try M&H? Surely this sort of thing happens all the time.

Dan, those initial mats are stellar.

Thanks again all,


image: At least the m's decided to stick around.

At least the m's decided to stick around.

This might be really silly, but have you checked the “u’s” to make sure the “n’s” didn’t just get dropped in there? Happens all the time, I suspect.

Sorry if this seems too basic.


No worries rh and thanks for the comment. I thought the same thing too (in fact, a part of me was banking on it when I got the type). The u’s are indeed all u’s. There are in total 7 n’s and around the same number of N’s. Upside down u’s (my other fallback) results in a slightly higher baseline for these sorts, so no luck there either. The joke’s on me I guess - even from u’s the n’s look like their flying away when set.


ah well. worth a shot…


It definitely looks like Monotype. the ATF 10pt. Bodoni Bold I have has two nicks and milled feet.


Looks like monotype. Contact Mackenzie & Harris at 415-777-0716. Ask to speak to Kenny in the Foundry. Tell him you need a line of 10pt Bodoni Bold lower case “n” cast. Monotype pattern is 275J, they have the matrices. Shouldn’t run you that much. They can ship to you.



Don’t forget, when you order, you need to send the foundry a few characters from your existing font, so they can get the alignment right. They need to check the vertical position where the characters in your font are cast on the type body. This can vary, and you don’t want to get a bunch of new “n”s which have a different baseline than all the other characters in your font. Ask the foundry which characters they want you to send, because they will probably have a preference.