Cre­at­ing print­ing types is a pre­ci­sion job. This sec­tion give infor­ma­tion about the firms that made type in the UK and also the sys­tems avail­able designed for print­ers to cast their own type.

I’ve scant infor­ma­tion on these type founders. If you can sup­ply more infor­ma­tion or can name fur­ther founders, please con­tact me

Current Type Founders

If you’re look­ing for new type in the UK, keep an eye on Let­ter­press Alive. Key, cur­rent, UK founders are-

Address­es and con­tact details at Let­ter­press Alive

Acorntype

John Eick­hoff of Bris­tol cast type ini­tial­ly in a ded­i­cat­ed unit and then at home until 2005 under the name Acorn­type. John’s focus was on small print­ers and his basic syn­op­sis was 5A10a. John used Mono­type machines to cast, and pro­duced won­der­ful spec­i­men book­lets and broad­sheets.

Miller and Richard

Miller and Richard dis­played in their Vic­to­ri­an lit­er­a­ture that they were ‘Let­ter Founders to Her Majesty of Scot­land’. The firm was based in Nichol­son Street, Edin­burgh and was start­ed by William Miller in 1809. Wal­ter Richard joined in 1825 and the name for the firm was changed in 1838 to Miller and Richard. Dur­ing the 1840s an ‘Old Style’ was cut for the firm and became the orig­i­nal ‘Scotch Roman’, a style which shaped many sub­se­quent designs. In 1951 the firm closed and the designs passed to Stephen­son, Blake. SB attempt­ed to re-cast the ‘Old Style’ but were unable to do so because of the incom­pat­i­bil­i­ty between M&R machines and SB machines.

Mouldtype

Mould­type used Mono­type cast­ing machines to cast type. The firm was last based in Dunkirk Lane, Pre­ston, Lan­cashire. It seems to have closed around 1992 and the machines went to a muse­um in Japan. Type cast by Mould­type has the let­ters ‘MTF’ cast on the shank.

Qualitype

Qual­i­type appear to have trad­ed from Vic­arage Place, Wal­sall, and cast a ‘Q’ in the shank of their types sug­gest­ing they cast their own type rather than sim­ply dis­trib­ut­ing type from oth­er founders.  By Jan­u­ary 1982 they appeared to have been tak­en over by Key­set Spools (Wal­sall) Ltd retain­ing a Mr C R Avery and still offer­ing to cast card founts.

Riscatype

In 1878 Thomas Yen­dall took over a print­ing busi­ness start­ed by John Tay­lor eight years ear­li­er. The firm became a lim­it­ed com­pa­ny in 1911. By 1925 type cast­ing had start­ed under the name ‘Riscatype’. Ten years lat­er print­ing stopped and Yen­dall con­cen­trat­ed on the man­u­fac­ture of type. In 1984 Yen­dall and Co. went into vol­un­tary liq­ui­da­tion.

The firm had cast type using Mono­type machines, housed in a cramped green met­al build­ing in Risca, South Wales.  Mr Williams — at one time an appren­tice at Riscatype — let me know that theirs was one of the largest foundries in the world with 11 Mono­type Super­cast­ers and 20 Mono­type Com­po­si­tion cast­ers.  Only Mould­type could match their qual­i­ty.

Startype

Stary­type based in Birstall, West York­shire used Mono­type machines to cast type and adver­tised that they were con­trac­tors to HM Gov­ern­ment and Over­seas Gov­ern­ments. The cast­ing machines were mod­i­fied to work at high­er tem­per­a­tures with a dif­fer­ent mix of type met­al mean­ing that they could pro­duce type suit­able for hot foil work on a com­po­si­tion cast­er. The firm closed in the late 1980s.

Some machines and the exper­tise con­tin­ue with Bri­an Hors­fall who casts type under the name Super­type.

Stevens, Shanks & Sons Ltd

Stevens, Shanks & Sons Ltd was based in South­wark, Lon­don SE1. Dur­ing the 1950s they used Mono­type equip­ment, with a mod­i­fied heat­ing unit and hard­er alloy to make their type more hard-wear­ing.

In 1971 they moved from 89 South­wark Street to 22 Cole­man Fields where they con­tin­ued to cast type until the mid-1980s.

They revived some very old faces, and held some ancient founders matri­ces. They did not use Mono­type Thomp­son Cast­ers for this work, so must have mod­i­fied the matrix hold­ers on stan­dard Mono­type machines.