Cutting down Italian height to .918

Is there a way to cut down Italian metal font to US height? I have some and would like to use them but they are too high for my press. I don’t want them to set in the case and not use them. I didn’t realize the size difference until I received them in the mail. Thanks, Larry

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Pretty simple
Take your chase and a couple pieces of type to a machine shop. Explain what you want to do.
Set type in a composing stick and lock up standing on its head.
Take chase with type locked up to machine shop and order it milled to .918”

Get some ink on your shirt


That sounds like a good way to do it to me, but I would use metal furniture to lock up the type, if you have it. Sometimes when I have locked up jobs with old wood furniture, if the furniture has aged unevenly, it can cause the type to bow up slightly. You wouldn’t want that to happen when it is being milled, obviously. If you do have to use wood furniture, put a good straight edge on the type to be sure it is locked up perfectly flat.

Some info you haven’t shared, such as is your height a standard Euro of .927” If so and you have a large quantity that doesn’t need to be mixed with English .918” then just take .009” out of your packing on the Vandercook #4 . I do this all the time and don’t even change roller settings. Same can be said for platens.

Soldans Ltd way, way back, then of Torrens Street London N1, were the importers of type cast by an Italian Foundry called Nebiolo and I still have three small founts milled off at foot by them to the Anglo-American System height. Prints perfectly. I do know that a pressman of German Navy origin had a press in Chelmsford UK which he had permanently adjusted to use Didot height type.,

Indeed, milling down is an excellent option. However, make sure that you lock your type up extremely well, face down, before milling it. Rainer Gerstenberg, who still casts foundry type in Germany, uses a special milling machine for this type of work. Type is being clamped into a special holder, before being milled to the correct height. Also, there is no such thing as ‘Standard European height’ Some printers in Italy use 24.81mm, others 23.556 mm (German/French height) high type. A lot of continental foundries did cast so-called ‘Gießerei Hohe’ and would mill their type down to the height that the client desired. In Switzerland only, there were around 50 different heights before World War II.

Milling down type…

image: P1010122.jpg


and another picture…

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Just a caution, milling type down to 0.918” can be easily messed up, I’ve done it. Your tolerances are very tight. As Nick said above, if there is any way to work around, try that first. If you are determined to do it, have the shop test their set-up first, like taking some old type from 0.918” to 0.915” or something like that. In general, type metal does not like to be machined.

I’m with Nick - if you don’t have to do it, don’t do it.
I have some French type height which is ok on my proof presses, GALLEY presses admittedly. You could do the same (with care) on a platen with less packing.

The only minus is that you can’t mix type heights, which could mean multiple passes if you’re mixing fonts - but this is often a similar problem when you try to mix metal and wood type due to the inking requirements of each.