Type caster

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Coat of arms of the type founder

Type foundry is a craft occupation that has now almost died out in Europe . The task of this trade is the type foundry , which is the production of letters for hand typesetting .

The type founder sets up a casting device with the casting mold (the “ mater ” for the actual letter) and the channel for the shaft and then repeatedly pours it out with the typesetting metal (usually lead ). The high quality requirements for the end product require the necessary manual skills:

  • For a pleasant and legible typeface, all letters must have exactly the same height and spacing (tolerances well below a tenth of a millimeter).
  • Despite different sizes (and therefore different shrinkage rates after casting), all types must be of the same length, otherwise individual letters would later disappear.
  • Cast burrs would cause letters to become wedged and twisted.
  • Different shaft dimensions would mean that print lines could not be "excluded" correctly later (= gaps filled with empty types); individual letters could slip or even “fall out of the ordinary”.

In the middle of the 20th century, manual typesetting for extensive works ( books , periodicals ) was replaced by machine typesetting, in which entire lines of text are automatically cast and then melted down again after printing. Up until the end of the 1980s, many 'small' printed works (e.g. business cards ) were hand-set . At the latest since the turn of the millennium, however, this has also been replaced by electronic or photo typesetting.

Historical literature

  • Hermann Hoffmann: The type founder. Leipzig 1927.

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