Typography | The Beauty of Type Set by Hand

Loose type – the sort of type set that has been set by hand in Europe since Gutenberg in the 15th century – has an intrinsic beauty that is hard to define. It is by turns tactile, intricate, weighty and shows its history through the colour residue on the type.

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This forme was a print typography project in hand-setting type before we start printing the Urban Cottage Industries gift vouchers. The Prelogram collection of printing paraphernalia at the Old Trouser Factory outside Hebden Bridge includes a huge collection of loose type. The forme contained a mixture of faces including Times, Consort, Old English, Palace script, Verona, Granby and Metro. There were also various unidentifiable oddments and a smattering of punctuation.

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The forme was constructed with a plan to fit it on an Adana hand press, but the area of type was too large to produce a clean impression with the Adana. The forme was locked up in a larger chase so it could be fitted to one of Prelogram’s Heidelberg platen presses which have been running since the 1950s.

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Great care was taken to achieve a good lock-up on the type to avoid characters creeping up out of the forme. The type was well locked-up despite the mixture of font faces and sizes. Even if you’ve no interest in the history or practice of setting type by hand, the result is rather beautiful. We’re confident we’ll be able to print some amazing gift vouchers in the next few weeks using the same techniques.

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