Metal Type: Home | Library | Forum | Free Ads | Store

What does 5.5 line mean?

Started by richard norman, August 31, 2008, 12:59:12 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Printle: A Printing Word Game from Metal Type

richard norman


I have just seen 18pt Caslon refered to as a "5.5 line font"

Excuse my ignorance but what does "5.5 line font" mean.

Thank you


Dave Hughes

This one has got me a little baffled!

I thought the term "line" in the context of type sizes referred to multiples of twelve points.

Therefore 5.5 line would be 66pt type (I've never heard of that size - it's normally 60pt or 72pt) - and I can't work out how it could refer to 18pt type.

Maybe someone else knows better than me  ::)
Printle: Word Puzzle for Printers Play Now

Keep in touch with Metal Type Get our newsletters

Jeff Zilles [jeffo]

Questions - always questions.

What was the context of the reference to the '5.5' description ?? - the text before and after the cipher and even the origin of the entire article may possibly provide a clue.

A rough and uninformed guess based only on the suggestion of the particular numbers and the times in which we live would be a computer nerd's reference to a measured height from top of ascender to bottom of descender of 5.5 miillimeters and excluding the tiny excess of metal above and below the image forming area on a 'real' piece of foundry  type -- referred to as '6.0' in near enough Cyber parlance and not quite accurate at that.

That's a stab-in-the-dark answer but I would hate to stake my wicked reputation on it !!



 I contacted Theo Rehak at Dale Guild Type Foundry, who use the term in describing their fonts. Following is his response.

We use ATF packaging with reglets of tied lines of type. Our fonted "lines"
of the type measure 36 picas (or 6") in length. The "line font" term is
simply the count of the number of these lines in the package. Modern type
artisans often figure the weight of type they are buying by multiplying the
number of lines in the package by a fixed known value. For instance, a 6"
line of 16pt foundry type weighs @ .333 of a pound: so..... 6 lines of 16pt
foundry type weighs 2 lbs. etc.

Theo Rehak / DGTF

I found examples of Dale Guild Foundry Type faces on the following site

George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast

Jeff Zilles [jeffo]

Thanks George

Shows graphically how a wild guess can be so wrong and raised - for me at least - the subject of purchasing new type.

I grew up in a print shop and cut my teeth on a driving belt but in a lifetime associated with many and varied aspects of the trade I have never bought NEW  type, either foundry or Mono.

Some of tonts in the 'Cave' have been passed down as an inheritance, some purchased second hand from shops either closing or restructuring and some rescued from the scrap bin for better or worse.

My favorite ATF catalog dates from 1923 and is a bible sized tome of 1148 numbered pages - I have since consulted this and there was no information in the sales/statistics section similar to NA Graphis / Dale Guild's system - which I have quickly perused but so far do not completely understand - so perhaps their system is pecular to themselves - no doubt someone will know or find out.

Whether ot not, they obviously have it pretty right for they appear to be thriving in a field that has been regarded by many others as arid and barren.

Every day something new, be it great or small - that I would live a long life of learning.

Thanks again George   --   jeffo


5.5 in my world meant five and on half point type. (classifieds)... so when we saw 5.5/6/10.6 that meant
5 1/2 point type on 6 pt. slug - 10picas 6 points long.

that's all I know about that

Quick Reply

Please leave this box empty:
Type the letters shown in the picture
Listen to the letters / Request another image

Type the letters shown in the picture:

Shortcuts: ALT+S post or ALT+P preview

Printers' Tales - Over 30 stories from the pre-digital age. Buy now on Amazon/Apple Books

☛ Don't miss our illustrated newsletters. Click here to see examples and subscribe. ☚