Type Synopses

Type (from Edinburgh City of Print)

A type syn­op­sis is a way of describ­ing how many of each char­ac­ter a com­plete set — or ‘fount’ — of type con­tains. When founders sold type on a great scale, type was sold by weight and older cata­logues show how much type would cost depend­ing on the weight of the fount.

It’s a fas­cin­at­ing area — how is it pos­sible for type founders to judge the right pro­por­tions of words needed to ful­fill the needs of print­ers? Dif­fer­ent syn­opses were adop­ted for dif­fer­ent pur­poses (like titling or dis­play type; and ‘book work’) and from dif­fer­ent foundries at dif­fer­ent times.

There are some sub­tleties also: some founders would alter pro­por­tions to fit their cast­ing machinery. Hence why some founts arrive that are not in alpha­bet­ic­al order. Oth­ers would swap out some char­ac­ters to give the impres­sion of a big­ger fount.

John Southward’s Prac­tic­al Print­ing of 1905 includes a foot­note to say –

There is a tra­di­tion in the old­est Eng­lish type-foundry-the Caslon, in Chiswell Street, Lon­don-that the bill [of type] ori­gin­ated in a labouri­ous and elab­or­ate cal­cu­la­tion of the num­ber of let­ters used in set­ting a lengthy debate in the House of Com­mons, where is was sup­posed the best and most com­pre­hens­ive Eng­lish would be spoken”

This page shows some UK syn­opses: from Adana (who spe­cial­ised in the smal­ler print­er); Star­type (a lar­ger com­mer­cial foundry); and Miller and Richard’s Wood Let­ter Fount.

These apply to the Eng­lish lan­guage only. Adana noted in their price lists that some over­seas agents had adop­ted dif­fer­ent syn­opses. Even with the UK, Star­type sup­plied their cus­tom­ers in Wales with founts hav­ing few­er j, k, q and xs

Once you have your founts worked out, you’ll need to know where to put them in the case. Dav­id Bolton’s site of Type Cases shows both the cases and the dif­fer­ent ways of organ­ising the space.

As ever, any addi­tions are wel­come

Adana

Adana pub­lished two fount­ing schemes: one for titling and caps only founts; and anoth­er for book work.

Scheme Adana offered this scheme in founts of…
Smal­ler sizes Lar­ger sizes
2A 4a 48pt
3A 4a 36pt, 30pt
3A 6a 24pt, 18pt
4A 9a 14pt 36pt, 30pt
5A 12a 12pt, 10pt 24pt
6A 18a 18pt
8A 35a 14pt, 12pt
10A 48a 10pt

Book Work

Foun­ted like this -

UPPER CASE LOWER CASE
Char­ac­ter A2 A3 A4 A5 A6 A7 A8 A10 Char­ac­ter a3 a4 a6 a9 a12 a18 a35 a48
A 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 a 3 4 6 9 12 18 35 48
B 2 2 3 3 4 5 5 6 b 2 2 3 4 5 7 14 20
C 2 2 3 4 4 5 5 7 c 2 3 4 4 7 10 19 27
D 2 2 3 3 4 5 5 7 d 2 3 4 6 8 11 21 30
E 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12 e 4 5 8 12 16 24 47 64
F 2 2 3 3 4 5 5 6 f 2 2 3 4 5 7 14 20
G 2 2 3 3 4 5 5 6 g 2 2 3 4 5 7 14 20
H 2 2 3 3 4 5 5 7 h 2 3 4 6 8 12 24 32
I 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 i 3 4 6 9 12 18 35 48
J 1 1 2 2 3 3 3 4 j 1 2 2 3 4 5 9 12
K 1 1 2 3 3 3 3 4 k 1 2 2 3 4 5 9 12
L 2 2 3 4 4 5 6 8 l 2 3 4 6 8 12 24 32
M 2 2 3 4 4 5 6 8 m 2 2 4 6 7 10 19 27
N 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 n 3 4 6 9 12 18 35 48
O 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 o 3 4 6 9 12 18 35 48
P 2 2 3 3 4 5 6 8 p 2 2 3 4 5 7 14 20
Q 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 3 q 1 1 2 3 3 4 6 8
R 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 r 3 4 6 9 12 18 35 48
S 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 s 3 4 6 9 12 18 35 48
T 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 t 3 4 6 9 12 18 35 48
U 1 2 3 4 5 5 5 7 u 2 2 4 6 7 10 19 27
V 1 1 2 3 3 4 4 6 v 1 2 2 3 4 5 9 12
W 2 2 3 4 4 5 5 6 w 2 2 3 4 5 7 14 20
X 1 1 1 1 2 3 3 4 x 1 1 2 3 3 4 6 8
Y 2 2 3 3 4 4 4 6 y 2 2 3 4 5 7 14 20
Z 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 3 z 1 1 2 3 3 4 6 8
& 1 1 1 1 2 2 3 3 � 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2
� 0 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 � 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2
� 0 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 fi 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 4
$ 0 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 fl 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 4
� 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 ff 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 4
1 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 5 ffi 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 3
2 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 4 ffl 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 3
3 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 4
4 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 4
5 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 4
6 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 4
7 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 4
8 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 4
9 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 4
0 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 5
. 2 3 5 7 9 12 14 16
, 3 3 5 7 9 12 14 16
- 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 4
: 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 3
; 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 3
! 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 4
? 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2
1 2 2 2 2 3 3 4

Titling and Caps Only Founts

Char­ac­ter A2 A3 A4 A6 A8 A12 A20 A24
A 2 3 4 6 8 12 20 24
B 2 2 2 3 3 5 8 10
C 2 2 3 4 5 8 13 17
D 2 2 2 4 5 7 11 13
E 3 4 5 8 10 14 24 30
F 2 2 2 3 4 6 9 12
G 2 2 2 3 4 6 9 12
H 2 2 2 4 5 7 11 13
I 2 3 4 6 8 12 20 24
J 1 2 2 2 3 4 6 7
K 1 2 2 2 3 4 6 7
L 2 2 3 4 5 8 13 17
M 2 2 2 4 5 7 11 13
N 2 2 4 6 8 12 20 24
O 2 3 4 6 8 12 20 24
P 2 2 2 4 5 7 11 13
Q 1 1 1 2 2 3 4 5
R 2 3 4 6 8 12 20 24
S 2 3 4 6 8 12 20 24
T 2 3 4 6 8 12 20 24
U 2 2 2 4 5 7 11 13
V 1 2 2 2 3 4 6 7
W 2 2 2 3 3 5 8 10
X 1 1 1 2 2 3 3 4
Y 2 2 2 3 3 5 8 10
Z 1 1 1 2 2 3 3 4
& 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 3
AE - 1 1 1 1 1 1 2
OE - 1 1 1 1 1 1 2
$ - 1 1 1 1 1 2 2
½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2
1 2 2 3 3 3 4 7 10
2 1 1 2 2 2 3 6 8
3 1 1 2 2 2 3 6 8
4 1 1 2 2 2 3 6 8
5 1 1 2 2 2 3 6 8
6 1 1 2 2 2 3 6 8
7 1 1 2 2 2 3 6 8
8 1 1 2 2 2 3 6 8
9 1 1 2 2 2 3 6 8
0 2 2 3 3 3 5 9 12
. 3 3 3 4 5 8 16 20
, 3 3 3 4 5 8 16 20
- 1 1 1 2 2 2 5 6
1 1 2 2 2 3 6 10
: 1 1 1 1 1 2 4 5
; 1 1 1 1 1 2 4 5
! 1 1 2 2 2 3 6 7
? 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 3

Miller and Richard

Miller and Richard offered wood let­ter as a ‘six dozen set’ in the fol­low­ing pro­por­tions–

Char­ac­ter Num­ber Char­ac­ter Num­ber
A 3 R 3
B 2 S 3
C 3 T 3
D 2 U 3
E 4 V 1
F 2 W 2
G 2 X 1
H 2 Y 2
I 3 Z 1
J 2 ; 1
K 2 : 1
L 3 & 1
M 3 . 3
N 3 , 3
0 2 1
P 2 - 1
Q 1 ! 1

Curi­ously, they refer to the exclam­a­tion mark as ‘mark of admir­a­tion’.

Startype and Supertype

Star­type of Birstall, West York­shire, sup­plied the fol­low­ing founts (weights are also included)-

Point Size Weight (kg) Syn­op­sis Point Size Weight (kg) Syn­op­sis
6 2.5 60A 120a 8 2.5 40A 80a
10 5 50A 100a 12 5 40A 80a
14 5 30A 60a 18 5 18A 36a
24 5 10A 20a 30 5 6A 12a
36 5 4A 8a 42 10 8A 16a
48 10 6A 12a 60 10 (cored) 4A 8a
72 10 (cored) 5A 5a

All of their founts were made in pro­por­tion to Cap A, rather than stated tables. Per­cent­ages are–

A 100 F 50 K 40 P 50 U 70
B 50 G 50 L 75 Q 25 V 40
C 75 H 75 M 75 R 100 W 50
D 75 I 100 N 100 S 100 X & Z 25
E 125 J 40 O 100 T 50 Y 50
, 100 50 : 40 ! 20 - 50
. 100 50 ; 20 ? 20 Figs 1–0 50

Titling founts were made in the pro­por­tions above (along with book founts). This con­trasts with Adana’s two schemes for titling and book work. Bri­an Horsfall tells me that the pro­por­tions above were devised over a long peri­od based on exper­i­ence. While Star­type could have adop­ted a more sci­entif­ic approach, it wasn’t pos­sible without some sort of auto­ma­tion to check pre­vi­ous orders.

Acorntype

John Eickhoff’s Acorn­type of Bris­tol took great pride in offer­ing ‘card founts’ — type to a 5A10a syn­op­sis. It is repro­duced here –

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
5 3 4 3 6 3 3 3 5 2 2 4 3 5 5 3 1 5 5 5 3 2 2 1 2 1
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z
10 4 6 7 13 6 4 7 10 4 4 7 6 10 10 4 3 10 10 10 6 4 4 3 4 3
½ & , . ; : - ! ? ( ) ff fi fl ffi ffl Fig­ures
2 2 5 5 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 3 each of 0–9

Inform­a­tion oth­er founders is always wel­come, please get in touch.