UNBELIEVABLE IMPLEMENTS OF THE PREPIXEL ERA
YOUR MESSAGE HEREli
Call MUrgatroid 6-050 J
TYPE CABINET, 1867. Its
wide, flat, segmented
drawers were filled with
type of different kinds.
The companies that sold
such cases tended to be
the type foundries them¬
selves. Drawers filled
with type were mounted
on top when in use.
This model displays only
a single, top-mounted
TYPESETTER'S COMPOSING STICK. Taken
from the cases, type was arranged on
the composing stick, left, adjusted to the
desired column measure, and justified
with blank type spaces.
Opposite page, "cuts" or illustrative
engravings were nailed onto wood
blocks or cast in metal "type-high," then
locked up with the type matter to form
a printed page. What a total pain!
vidual type matrices, letter by letter, down a
series of channels, aligned them into columns,
justified the columns and finally poured hot
metal over them to form a "slug" from which
a proof could be taken.
ihen one ordered typesetting, the
results came back from the typeset¬
ting shop as "galleys": long, printed
strips of clay-coated white paper along with
several extra copies on newsprint and a
gelatinlike paper for roughing in the type.
Since the galleys were really prints on slick
paper, by the time one's layouts were printed,
the type was already second generation.
The galleys would have to be trimmed close
to the edge of the type column, then the type
rubber-cemented down to the layout board.
The type would easily smudge, so care had to
be taken to avoid abrading the surface. This
was really hard, since at the same time you
had to rub along the close-cut galley edges
with a rubber cement "pickup" to remove
By the 1970s, the Phototypositer from VGC
came into widespread use. It revolutionized
the way headline type could be set. The
advent of photolettering allowed designers
themselves to manipulate type as it was
being set, controlling aspects like kerning,
News Cap Case, $0 80
A new Cap Case that meets all requirements and one that
is exceptionally popular with all compositors.
News Lower Case, $0 80
The universal layout as put into the recular Lower Case
from which every printer has learned his a-b-c's.
U&LC. There's a reason we refer to letters as being uppercase and low¬
ercase and it's not just because—as I used to assume—capital let¬
ters stand taller than most of the small letters. Fonts used to come
separated into cases that were placed on top of the type cabinet one
above the other. Today these delightful drawers are still used by eld¬
erly ladies to display miniature bric-a-brac that they buy on eBay.
LOGO, FONT a LETTERING BIBLE
the size, or changed
your mind, it was
to the stat
or make do.
spacing, point size and overlapping. Photo-
lettering also created a revolution in type
design since it became cheaper and easier to
draw a font and output it as a simple strip of
film negative than to cut it in metal. I know,
because when I was seventeen, I made a
Phototypositer font myself by splicing togeth¬
er negatives of an alphabet I'd drawn. I didn't
align the baselines of the negs carefully
enough so the type came out a little bouncy,
but otherwise the font worked fine.
The "Typositer" output a strip of developed,
positive film that looked like a photostat. The
photographic paper was trimmed close to the
edges of the type and rubber cemented or
waxed down to the layout board. (A quick
method was to use Scotch Magic Tape with its
matte finish for pasteup. It looked sloppy but
the tape disappeared under
the camera.) Resizing Typ¬
ositer type still required
sending out to the stat
house to have photostats
made at a few dollars per
shot. Once you got your
stats back, if you didn't like
mine the desired size
of enlargement or
reduction and mark
the type, say, 20 per¬
cent. That seemed to
be clear enough to
most stat guys, except
to the one who called
me up and asked,
"You mean, you want
it 20 percent smaller
than it is now?" (That
would have yielded only a reduction to 80
percent.) I said, "Set the damn camera gauge
at 20 percent like everybody else does!"
Sheesh! Of course, many publishers and ad
agencies had their own in-house stat cam¬
eras. One of these was a little self-standing
camera/darkroom unit that looked like a
Bauhaus version of a fairy-tale cottage. I
remember the tall operator at one company
had to hunch way over to enter the unit.
Hassles with Rapidographs, photostats,
metal type and pasteups were only part of
the tribulations designers faced daily.
rinting used to be a great art. It may
still be now, as well. But in between then
and now—roughly between 1960 and
1990—printing fell into the dark ages. What
happened, as I see it, is that everybody inter-
WOOD TYPE. Display type (the larger
types used for headlines, posters and dis¬
play advertising) was often made of
wood. Entire catalogs specialized in over¬
size types like those at right, which con¬
tinued to be set by hand, even after the
advent of the Linotype.
At his cases, in his cups,
plucking out letters one
by one, day in and day
out (and the worst part:
later he'd have to put
'em all back in again).
Plaintively, he wonders
when the heck Ottmar
will finish tinkering
around with that
prototype of his so a
can get in a bit of
fishing now and then.