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-
- Gloucester Typesetting, Stonehouse, Gloucestershire
- Supertype, Gomersal, West Yorkshire
- Ed Denovan working as Letterpress Works
- Whittinton Press/Nomad Letterpress have listed type for sale
Addresses and contact details at Letterpress Alive
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 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 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.
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.
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.