Day 8, November 12th, Week 16

Typesetting with Ben Goodman

Type drawer

A quick introduction to the subject beginning with Gutenberg (1398-1468) and the invention of movable type, his use of an alloy of lead, tin and antimony (this is still in use) and his use of oil-based ink. Ben talked about the sizing of type, Points – up 72 and Picas for sizes of type larger than 72 points. There are 12 Points to a Pica. We looked at the EM table – an em is a unit of the currently specified point size.

Composing stick


For the exercise today we worked to 36 picas on the composing stick.

The process:

  • set out the type in a composing stick
  • transfer the type to a print frame or tray
  • transfer to the bed of the printing press
  • set in place on the bed with ‘furniture’ – wood blocks
  • adjust until tight and secure and flat – press down with a wooden ‘plane’
  • use quoins to lock down the type in place
  • on the press prepare the correct thickness of paper, use multiple sheets as required
  • ink the press roller – not very much ink
  • move the paper to the correct place the
  • roll the bed under the ink roller to take a print, roll back
  • repeat

The skill seemed to be in the composing, choosing spacing and getting the type firmly into place.

The press with type in place
Ben explaining the press