How To Wrap & Ship Type

I’m attempting to compose myself, after having just received a very large font of hopelessly rare 30pt Koch Kursiv (aka Eve Italic) won for what had been a reasonable final bid on ebay.

Upon paying, the seller thanked me and we had a brief exchange regarding careful and secure wrapping and packaging of such a rare font of type. It seemed to be that the seller understood the simultaneous durable and fragile nature of type and assured me all due care would be taken.

Ahh but was not to be. The packaged arrive and sounded like dice rolling in a box. What is wrong with people??

What had appeared to be a near pristine font was now hopelessly damaged for what appears to be a fundamental ignorance. I am sick at heart and angered to the bone.

So, as I re-font this type to proof for total damage, I offer these words of wisdom after having worked with and handled type for over 20 years, and had far too many shipments destroyed, not by the carrier, but the shipper themselves.

As reference for fonting:

As reference for packing to ship:

And so;

1. DO NOT ship type in cases. DO NOT accept type shipped in cases. It must be properly fonted. if not, it WILL arrived damaged.

2. I recommend, if you have the means, to pull proper proofs, both as seller, or as recipient. You will immediately know what damaged characters should be pulled, rather than laid, and this will save trouble when actually using the type, or as proof that the type is in good, or poor condition.

3. Font the type and tie it up with page cord, just as type would have shipped from the foundry. Any other way is neglectful, and sure to explode in shipment. Lines should not exceed 36 picas. The foundries got it right. Do not reinvent the wheel.

4. Do not font in gatherings larger than you can comfortably handle in one lift. There’s a reason type shipped in manageable lots, like caps, lower case and figures. While this allowed sales advantage, it also assure that each font was manageable in scale.

5. Place foam, or several layers of soft paper such as toilet tissue on the face before wrapping. This will assure that if there is any vibration in shipping, that the printing surface is not burnished and rounded, but cushioned. Type is simultaneously tough and fragile.

6. Wrap each part font securely. Refer to the images above. This is a critical step.

7. When packaging for shipment, DO NOT use air-filled anything to fill the space in the outer box. The first moment the box is thrown or dropped, those worthless air-filled pillows will pop, and the end will be near. Note the secure box, and wood excelsior used by Stempel to secure fonts against movement. If you can shake the box you have packed, and feel any movement, you can be assured of damage upon receipt.

Please, PLEASE follow these simple guidelines. While Monotype faces are still being cast, foundry type continues to become more rare. The type I just received is an almost total loss. Heavily kerned, every Cap T is broken. The font is now worthless due to abject carelessness.

If you are buying type from any seller, please send the links I provide above to educate them in the proper handling of your type. If you are a seller, please take my recommendation to heart. The extra time it takes will be worth the headache of the claim that will be made, and your money lost if you do not.

Log in to reply   22 replies so far

You ask: “What is wrong with people?”
They are not too intelligent!
There are now several fonts of type and/or borders on auction on ebay. They are described as Vintage letterpress fonts: 14/64, 26/64, and (get this) 32/64. Now wouldn’t that 32/64ths reduce to 1/2?
Did I say not too intelligent? How about just plain stupid?
One of the first things to get acquanted with in the printing trade is the point system and a line guage!.
And you expect these people to use just some plain common sense and wrap a package of type securely?
Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!

I already commented last week on the importance of package (regarding the transport of an Adana), but one just has to look at how the typefoundries would pack and ship their type. I still buy type from M. Gerstenberg, in Germany, and his parcels always arrive in one piece, without any damage at all. Why? Because he’s a professional! Type is fonted, overhanging glyphs have got spaces between them, layers of soft paper are packed on top of the type, everything is then snugly packed in kraft paper and all packs of type fitted into a wooden box. But you can’t expect anything like that from an amateur who sells type on E-Bay. By the way, you could try to contact Gerstenberg, he may have the matrices of Koch Kursiv.

Stanislaus, your “fractions” may be European sizing. I haven’t seen the listings, so can’t speak to it, but it occurs to me it may be that. Otherwise, yes, I tend to agree…

Thomas, yes. See the pictures I link to which demo how Gerstenberg packs type securely.

It would be my hope that this post could be “sticky”d, and as I say, sent to sellers by buyers in advance of type being shipped.

RG no longer casts on a pica body, so I will be unable to purchase replacement sorts for the Koch. Hence the tragedy, even if credit could be had from seller, or carrier.

Michael—you need to embrace Spartan Black or Headline Gothic as alternative faces to these frilly, sentimental type faces. Then you could ship a lot more type by stuffing a Flat Rate Priority box to the brim. You have to think like the enemy.


Just a few points to add to this current thread:- from one who was around at the time!!! When Type as sorts from the Suppliers/Foundries was supplied on delivery in virtually every case was tied up securely with proper page cord with many turns and always with TIE UP clumps top/bottom and both sides,???…TIE UP CLUMPS based on 12 point body with *C* section format, to accomodate many turns of page cord, by implication 100% safe.
If and when pre-printed Pages had to be stored for subsequent reprint, OR, as was quite common, 16, 32, 64, Pages had to be sent out for extra machine capacity, they were always wrapped with *Tie Up Clumps* Well Tied!!! Packed with paper waste spoil, (slittings from continuous stationery machines was usual.!!!) and then packed layer by layer, with soft interleaving, into EX M.O.D Ammunition boxes, did not come safer than that.…Used by Foundry Type suppliers, generally, but always with SUBSTANTIAL refundable deposit. !!
PLUS frequently, IF formes had to be printed out, with Pica Clumps surrounding, being imposed/laid down by different Comps from original, as there was invariably, at least 24 point between the heads, gutters, margins etc, 16,s could be reimposed without untying.
Possibly even useful to the new learners, today as *Tie Up Clumps* are still available from Supercaster,s And More so from ELROD, Strip Casters, but in any case providing, Good 12 point (Pica) spacing material.???
Apologies for Rubbish, if it be so, but possibly, the New Devotees may glean a little insight on how to *Tie Up* safely, some of our U.K. Graphic Suppliers, still list *Proper Page Cord* usually in dispenser boxes.

Having had problems with ebay sellers, I never purchase foundry type on ebay.

If I want foundry I purchase from the people that make it or are true letterpress suppliers.

I have purchased Linoype fonts, that are shown on a galley in rows, only to get the box full of mats just dumped into it.

Additional pictures here, Interrobang already showed some…

The images…

image: type_well_packed.JPG


image: more_type_well_packed.JPG


I like Skyline Type Foundry’s method, and although I have received boxes with damage on the outside due to the package heavers at the US and Canadian post offices and/or Canada Customs, I have NEVER had any type arrive damaged.

The font of type is first placed in a small sturdy paperboard box with slip on cover. All extra space not taken up by type, including at the top and bottom of the lines of type, is filled with wood similar to reglet but usually thicker. A piece of material which looks like thick furnace filter material is placed over the face of the type. The cover is then slipped on the box and the box is shrink-wrapped shut.

For the shipping box, a US Postal Service Flat Rate Box is used. A piece of plywood is cut the right size to fit in the bottom of the box and glued to the bottom. A smaller corrugated box is glued to the middle of the piece of plywood. The box (or boxes) of type are placed in the smaller box. The open space between the inner and outer boxes is completely packed with strong sheet foam insulation (stronger than white styrofoam). The open space in the inner box where the type is, is packed with foam, plastic or other packing material, NOT using any flimsy packing like bubble wrap. The inner box is securely taped shut. The top of the inner box and the inside top of the outer box are glued together. All corners, edges and seams of the outer box are taped to keep them from splitting open (this is very important).

It must take Skyline a lot of time to pack every shipment, but it is worth it.

Once the box gets to me, I have to use a utility knife to cut around the top edges of the inner and outer boxes, to get them open. This is safe for the type because I know the type is not that close to the top of the boxes.

Oh but it’s getting easier to ship type from e-bay. They dump it all in a zip lock and expect you to pay a ridiculous price for a bag of 6pt. pied type. Oh, wait! It’s always vintage, and rare.

I’ve updated my flickr post on wrapping type, to also include a step-by-step on tying up a font. Techniques differ, but my methodology works. Go to town.

now we need to show how to ship a table top press so it arrives in less than 100 pieces.

After last week receiving a press just sat in a box with no packing or wrapping at all, and the previous week getting one in several pieces I’d certainly be interested in the dissemination of this information :)

I once received a Ludlow Supersurfacer from eBay that had been placed in a cardboard box and the packing was empty aluminum soda cans. And it was well above UPS weight limits so I don’t know how the idiot seller even slipped it into the system.

were the soda cans deposit cans, at least you can cash them in.

Sounds like everyone has some horror stories about eBay type purchases. A couple of years ago I purchased a font of very delicate Burford initials with many multiples. The seller presented herself as a knowledgeable non-printing letterpress enthusiast, so I just assumed that she would pack securely. You can imagine how I felt when the 48pt initials arrived in a rattling box! They were completely unsecured and packed down with a couple of plastic shopping bags. 50% had suffered dreadful dings and I ended up with a just barely acceptable font of one letter each. When I complained the seller sent back a response berating me for being precious. Apparently real printers were rough and tumble with their type and often “threw” it back into the case. A ding here or there did not matter and I had no grounds for complaint. Needless to say I am now somewhat cautious. On the subject of Skyline, I would endorse the comments above. Sky packs his type to survive a nuclear war and it never fails to arrive in perfect condition. Getting it open is always fun!!

the bloodied proofed.

has anyone else had problems with people bagging type for shipment on ebay? there’s a seller now who has some nice type, but says they bag to ship.

I sent them a message asking that they please not bag fine type, and linked to my step by step on Flickr, but they’ve chosen not to respond.

A seller whose name ends in 11? Might be because I sent him that flickr link last week… and he said “the prices I’m getting it’s not worth my effort”.

different seller. I’d advocate boycotting anyone who refuses to ship responsibly, but presume there will be folks who don’t know any better who will buy from them anyway.

had a lovely set of type sent to me recently from a very well known UK print seller on ebay. minimal packaging and of course on opening the package out fell chips of metal. Very annoying

had a lovely set of type sent to me recently from a very well known UK print seller on ebay. minimal packaging and of course on opening the package out fell chips of metal. Very annoying