Any idea what this type is?

I bought a case of random type at a recent auction. This particular set, which is taller and also has ridges, has me baffled…
Any ideas?

image: type1.JPG


image: type2.JPG


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Are they letters or designs? The photo looks like it could be either an “H” or a piece of border. It also looks like at least the face might be brass. It may well be bookbinder’s stamping type, used to impress designs or titles, usually in foil, on the leather or cloth of book covers and spines.


looks like type that is made for foil stamping, its made of harder lead than foundry type.

Bob, letters. The case came with one or two of each letter.

DickG, that makes sense, and Bob agrees.

Thanks— not sure what to do with it now!

I’ve got some of this, it’s for a Kingsley foil stamper to stamp larger type in their single line type holder. The body is narrower to fit in the slide.

I have a few fonts that are like this but type high, also have a few ornaments that are higher than type high. The type high fits the kingsley but the higher ones must be for some kind of bookbinder like Bob says.

Your “font” is Bel Air Initials for use in the Kingsley Monogramming Machine. The grooves in the body are for holding the type in place in the Kingsley typeholder which slides into the machine. The typeholders hold an 18 pt. body so the faces that are larger are widened at the top.

This type is also cast specifically for foil stamping so the alloy has more zinc in it because of the heat involved. It is type-high so it can also be locked into a form and printed normally as well.

You only have a few of each character simply because this was to be used for monograms.


Thanks clpx2.
Rick, this is slightly higher than type-high. I tried to see if I could lock it up somehow, but I don’t think so. It’s a good looking set of characters, though!

A similar piece of type is part of an ATF salesman’s sample book that I have. I’ve seen an identical ATF sample book and it also contained the same piece of type. I do not know if it was ever advertised in an ATF catalog or literature. The book sample is higher than type high and seems to display the same 3 nicks. You can see the sample book in an older APA Journal issue from 2010.

Always happy to earn something new. Just ducked down into the shop to look at my Kingsley set-up. The first thing I checked was the type-high comments. Damn - MOST of the fonts, like your Bel Air, are higher than type high!!!!!!!!!! Just slightly, but they are higher!

So, I also opened a box of 36 pt. Brush Caps from Kinsgsley and low and behold they are cast on a 36 pt. body and look exactly like a piece of foundry type with one nick!!!!! They also measure TYPE-HIGH!!! What the Hell???? All of my Kingsley type holders are either one-line or two-line and each line is 18 pt. as I mentioned above.

As I was pondering this I read the information inside the lid of the 36 pt. Brush case. It SPECIFICALLY mentions an open-face 36 pt. typeholder to be used with this font. I have a dozen or so Kingsley typeholders, but NOT that one!

Went through my Kingsley literature and found the 36 pt. open faced typeholder listed - as well as a 72 pt. typeholder. This was for mounting their large flat plates.

So I learned something new today. Thanks.


I don’t think Kingsley cared very much how high the type and ornaments were. Since the machine stroke is exactly parallel, the platen perpendicular to the printing head, and the operation entirely manual, type height hardly matters that much. You pull the handle down until the forme presses firmly into the work and then release. Done.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

Apologies for the double post. There was a server glitch.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

Wow, I love to learn, too, Rick. Thanks for the update.

Butch, that is interesting. Thanks for the link. And, Michael, thanks for weighing in on this, too.

I wish I could do something with it. But it’s good to know something about it.

Kingsley type was made by ATF on Barth casters devoted strictly to casting with zinc—no lead involved. Each machine was devoted to a single point size or body type as in the example being discussed. Even the matrices used were separate ones from the ones used in regular type casting and the machines were in a separate area in the plant to avoid zinc contamination with regular type metal.

Kingsley owned ATF for a number of years and they kept ATF going to secure their source of the zinc type. When Kingsley failed and went into bankruptcy, that action took ATF into bankruptcy as well and thus the ATF auction in 1993. Kingsley formed a new corporation and actually bought the zinc machines and matrices with the intention of using all that material again but instead put it all into storage in Chicago. Along comes a fellow named Kevin Auer from Maine who tracked the machines down and purchased them, and took on an apprenticeship with Theo Rehak with the intention of learning type casting. Kevin did not continue with the machines or type casting and eventually sold everything to Howard Bratter who was part of the Woodside Press operation in Brooklyn. Howard also bought casting machines from Stephenson Blake and had that equipment shipped to Brooklyn as well. None of this has worked out and now the ATF Barths are with Greg Walters, and I’m not sure of the matrices. There was a project to convert one of the Barths to cast 36 pt. regular foundry type, but that got stalled because of the cost involved. The story is quite complex and this is a sketch of the broadest outline.

Auer took up book binding, worked at the Cornell University Library rare book room and then went on to the University of Texas in Austin where he is now.

Thanks Fritz! As always, you are a mountain of information and it is all very much appreciated.


Yes, thanks, Fritz. I love the history…

I remember seeing Howard’s zinc mats at The Dale Guild when Theo dug them back out at his request when Howard was selling things to Patrick Goosens. Patrick may be able to confirm this- he is here on Briar from time to time.

The zinc mats were steel and Theo pointed out that many were rather worn from hard use. I would imagine that this was because Kingsley was using them, but not putting effort into the matrix department work to keep them in good order. Zinc is tough on matrices, casters and castermen, too.


I saw some of those mats for zinc work at Theo’s as well—the ones I recall were News Gothic 18 pt and we had wanted to cast that as there has been demand for that face. Theo would not run them on his machine because of them being battered from zinc work saying that they would be dangerous. As to accuracy, zinc type is not as good as regular formula lead based type—it has different casting characteristics and the shrinkage on cooling is different. We have maybe 40 fonts of new Kingsley 18 pt Cloister that can be best described as being a little ragged in the casting quality and I would be very hesitant to sell it to anyone. I think ATF had casting problems with zinc that they couldn’t fix during those last years of the foundry.