Type Consortium

To Whom it May Concern,

I have created a site with which I hope to revisit an idea/mechanism I worked via LETpress in 2001.


There is still a lot do do in terms of polling interest, and the nuts and bolts around making something work, but I thought I’d put the word out that this is in the offing with the hope that there will be some interest.

mjb / interrobang letterpress

Log in to reply   21 replies so far

Hi Michael,

Great idea! Looking forward to seeing this consortium develop.


Thanks so much for pushing ahead with this, Michael. I know The Dale Guild is helping its customers combine orders with their casting prospectuses, but forming a consortium of printers to contract with foundries for larger, more efficient casting runs is an excellent way to develop the foundry/printer relationship. I would imagine that something could be worked out with the European foundries (or foundry, as the case may be), to mill the type down to American height and ship combined orders to an American distributor who could send it to printers in our nifty flat-rate boxes. I shall be happy to participate in anything that will keep our foundries running.


Hi Michael,

I know that this post is now over two years old.

But if you are still interested in doing this, please count me in.


Me too.


Doug & Heather,

Do you have any particular typefaces that you are interested in purchasing as a group (e.g. from overseas Foundries, such as Stempel).


I just moved into my new shop last fall. I have lots of type, but not alot of any one type. I’m seeking a house type. In the running: Garamond, Bembo, Dante, Perpetua, Baskerville, Deepdene…but, I’m wide open; don’t know what Stempel has for type. I’d like to start out with a lot of 12 pt. roman, some italic and small caps, then build to larger and smaller sizes.



to H Hale and others

In the early few months of my apprenticeship, the foreman told me how the text face for the newspaper was chosen; the Editor/Manager/Owner had been a compositor likewise his son, asked the foreman to find the best face. They collected as many typefaces as they could, used them by the process which would be used for printing the paper, then read them by the light most people used, and one of the typefaces “jumped up off the paper”. This was Mergenthaler Ionic Number 5. Just a few months ago, I read that this typeface was part of a family, with variations to suit various printing processes; stereotype moulding, rotary press letterpress and methods similar.

Ink spread influences the choice. The telephone book typeface is called something like Bell 2000, and enlightened me when I read how it was designed. Ink spread is only one of the factors.

Once, I nearly made the mistake of asking for a line of black italac Bodoni (about 10 pt) to be printed in yellow on newsprint. Fortunately, we noticed this before it left out hands.

“If you can’t read it easily, it’s wrong.” Why do some designers use grey type in very small size, do they want to prevent us from reading the text? Especially on a background of a dark colour.


to H Hale

Correction to my text: should have been called bold italic Bodoni, not black italac Bodoni.


To H Hale and others

I found another one: left our hands instead of left out hands.

Maybe I should sharpen my proofreading?


to H Hale and in general:

Have others tried to print their own promotional leaflets, to be dropped into letterboxes, etc, after the business has been running for a few months? But the leaflet must be spot-on and avoid arousing any negative feelings among any one of the community; copy-writing must be of the best possible level; recently I saw a pamphlet like this, had many extremely good ideas which I had not previously come across, but had, on nearly every page something I would have done differently, including the wording.


Hi TH,

In answer to your question - I am currently looking for any historic or distinctive foundry types that are hard to find and would need to be custom cast.My main interests are in early 20th century German typefaces as well as uncommon ATF fonts.

There are a lot of typefaces that I see listed in people’s matrix catalogues that I would love to own but are way out of my price range.

For example, I know that Rainer Gerstenberg in Darmstad has matrices for a lot of the old Klingspor foundry faces including Behrens Schrift, Eckmann Schrift, and some Hupp designs, but he doesn’t have any of these currently in stock. Also, I’m very interested in ordering some Rodolf Koch typefaces from them including some large Koch Antiqua display caps, Koch Antiqua Extra Bold (AKA Eve Heavy), Jessen Shrift, etc.

I am also interested in ATF Civilite from the Dale Guild foundry - and anything by Dwiggins - particularly Electra (which is tough to cast as sorts since it was designed for Linotype).

Finally, I have been checking out the matrix vault of the of Offizin Parnassia in Switzerland and I’m intrigued by what they have to offer - including a lot of “alternative alphabet” types including Greek, Cyrillic, and Arabic faces.


Heather and others,

The Stempel link posted above is out of date. The holdings of the old Stempel foundry were liquidated last year. Fortunately, Rainer Gerstenberg who worked for Stempel for many years, continues to cast type using the old matrices. His list of available typefaces can be found here:




I’m also very interested in continental typefaces and decorative initials like those described by Doug above, particularly Behrens.

Please add my name to the list if you are contemplating a casting.


I’m still very interested in a consortium, too. I just sent Michael Babcock a message to let him know that this thread has been resurrected.


Thanks Barbara,

Thanks Barbara. That’s great to hear. I also sent Michael an email about a week ago, but have not heard back yet. It would be nice to get his input since he has actually done this before. The folks at both Dale Guild and Rainer Gerstenberg’s foundry have suggested this approach to me so I know its something that most foundries are happy to do.

On a related note, I just got a mailing from Micah at Dale Guild saying that they were going on temporary hiatus while they make arrangements to relocate their operations to Utah. They will continue to sell existing stock on eBay, but may not be casting anything new for a while. If you have ever considered ordering anything from them, however, now would be a good time to do it. It sounds like they are struggling to raise sufficient funds to cover the moving expenses and may have to sell some equipment.

All of which serves to emphasize why a type consortium like this is such a good idea. There are so few people casting new type these days and they need our business to stay alive.


Side note: the list of typefaces available at www.rainer-gerstenberg.de/ is still in progress … some of the listed typefaces are available on stock, some of them only on request, but if you are looking for a particular typeface feel free to contact us!

Everything that is available in stock can be purchased in small quantities like 2 lbs, everything that has to be freshly casted requires more work and starts at about 40 lbs.


I’m a little late to the party on this one, but we’re trying to do something similar (I think) here in the UK. Hiring display matrices can be prohibitively expensive, so we tried to gather a number of people who would want a fount of the same typeface to minimise the expense for all. It’s not really taken off, in truth – perhaps the demand just isn’t there.

http://adventuresinmonotype.tumblr.com/ has a link to the sign-up form: ‘Display type sign-up form’ on the left hand side.


hello all, Babcock here.

I’ve been focussed on building a new workshop, hence the silence.

it’s nice to see interest in perhaps reviving the idea of some group purchases.

as folks seem to be aware, the DGTF is on hiatus. When Micah will be back up and running is an unknown.

there was mention of Garamond, and the DGTF has cast 10-24pt from mats owned by the late Dan Carr. There may be shelf stock that Micah holds, and Fritz at NA Graphics also had type in stock since he bank rolled a few castings.

I tried to phone Fritz yesterday and his voice mail is full. That worries me.

Rainer Gerstenberg, as Lars points out also has shelf stock, and the capacity to cast things that aren’t listed. The thing to be aware of is that the types will be on a Didot body rather than pica, so spacing material will be needed. Not a big deal as far as I’m concerned, but that’s your call.

I’d encourage folks to buy type currently available as an incentive for these guys to continue to invest time and money in doing so. I’ve filled cases with the Garamond over the past 10 - 12 years. It’s as fine as it gets.

be that as it may, I guess the $64,000 question is, what face(s) would a large enough group be interested in.

the deal I did with Bauer, and that I regret not working on again since Bauer is now defunct for lack of business, was simply based on my interest in Columna. By contacting Herr Hartmann, he stated that a minimum of 10 fonts needed to be cast to be incentive.

By way of a call on LETpress in 2001, I got enough folks to sign on. I haven’t read LETpress in many years, so have no idea what’s going on there.

I had mentioned recently to Lars that it might be advantageous for Herr Gerstenberg to sell off dusty shelf stock at a discount to get some needed cash flow. What would be helpful if we could get it, would be an inventory. In that way, folks know what’s immediately available, and which would only require pick and pack. Low hanging fruit as it were.

I think that the good-will that engenders might then induce RG to dust off the mats for Klingspor faces that so many folks seem to covet, and cherish.

Lars, (i’m going to pm you), what’s the possibility of getting a list from RG?

Maybe we can go from there?


I’m also interested in exploring the idea of having Herr Gerstenberg cast borders and/or ornaments. There are some marvelous designs that have never been available to an American audience, and it might be worthwhile exploring a group casting to make them so. I never could understand DGT refusing to cast more than a few borders, and not offering the traditional font breakdown in packaging to make it possible to buy more lowercase over time, like Fritz has.


Hi all,

unfortunately there currently is no complete shelf stock inventory list. Basically everything listed on the website with the “from N € / KG plus shipping” should be available in stock (“should” since it of course depends on the request pt size).

There are approx. 5 million mats in Darmstadt still being indexed so it’ll take some time until there will be a complete list of what is really available.

Borders and ornaments are available, too.

Regarding the spacing material i just want to point out that all type available from Rainer Gerstenberg comes on a Didot body, but you can of course order Didot spacing material with your type (there will be a order form for spacing material on the website soon).

Back to Michael’s maybe-we-can-go-from-here question: i’ll try to work out something with Rainer and post some news/updates within the next week.

Side note regarding Bauer: i actually doubt that there will be any new type from Spain ever …