Type Founders

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.