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.


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