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My name is Michael Bab­cock, and I love let­ter­press. Gen­uine let­ter­press. Found­ed in 1992, for 30 years I’ve run inter­robang let­ter­press, a design and print­ing office in Jamaica Plain, Mass­a­chu­setts. With great delib­er­a­tion and per­son­al expense, I have assem­bled a large col­lec­tion of new and used type and orna­men­tal mate­r­i­al in order to do gen­uine let­ter­press. Not the plas­tic plate relief print­ing imi­ta­tion that is cur­rent­ly being sold as  let­ter­press by a host of “studios.”

Type Con­sor­tium is the web incar­na­tion of an idea I had in 2001, and put into action via the Uni­ver­si­ty of New Brunswick LET­Press List­Serv mail­ing list.

I had been in con­tact with Sr. Wof­gang Hart­mann, Direc­tor of Fundi­ción Tipografi­ca Bauer, in Barcelona SP regard­ing avail­abil­i­ty of 36pt Colum­na. Hartmann’s response was that if a min­i­mum order could be placed, he would see to the cast­ing. The call was put out on LET­Press to see if there might be folks inter­est­ed in buy­ing into the cast­ing. Upon suc­cess­ful­ly enlist­ing par­tic­i­pants, an order was placed, and 10 fonts cast and shipped from Bauer.

One of the ongo­ing com­plaints about met­al print­ing type, aside from avail­abil­i­ty, is cost. The cost per font, by pool­ing the pur­chase, was sig­nif­i­cant­ly low­er than the indi­vid­ual font price. In this case, a 36pt Euro­pean sized font (larg­er than stan­dard US fonts) was $200. Astound­ing­ly inex­pen­sive for the pur­chasers, and advan­ta­geous for the foundry in that the set­up time was jus­ti­fied by the amount of type sold.

And so that is what we will attempt to do again. Poll inter­est, and pool funds to per­suade foundries to cast oth­er­wise unavail­able type and orna­ment at a more rea­son­able price.

It is with great hope that this mech­a­nism works, to the ben­e­fit of the let­ter­press print­er, and more espe­cial­ly, for the foundries with­out which, let­ter­press will cease to be a gen­uine process as it has been prac­ticed for some 560 years.