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Reviving Metal

Started by Julius Stafford-Baker, November 19, 2023, 07:05:25 PM

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Julius Stafford-Baker

Do Frys Metal Foundries still exist, and do they or anyone else still do the little reviving metal ingots? 

Dave Hughes

From this article it would appear that Fry's no longer exist: Leeds Bronze - Our History

I am unaware of anyone selling "reviving" ingots.

Am I right in presuming you are UK based?
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Terrence Chouinard

Is there any description or analysis of their "reviver" available anywhere?

Dave Hughes

I've had a thumb through Fry's Printing Metals, 1972 edition, which is available to download from the Metal Type Library - Miscellaneous Section and although it doesn't give the exact make-up of "reviving bars" it does give some pointers and general advice on looking after your metal.

Firstly, on looking after your metal on page 60 it states: "if the pot is skimmed cold, or before the metal is fully melted, much good metal is taken off with the dross."

On page 62: "It is advisable to melt the metal from cold as rapidly as possible. Directly the metal is molten the operator should stir the pot vigorously, and also when fresh ingots are added during the day. The object of these precautions is to ensure that the tin-antimony crystals are quickly taken into solution."

Interestingly, on fumes (page 70): "Fumes from the remelting of type and slugs arise from the decomposition of ink and floor sweepings and not from the metal; they are sometimes objectionable, but not poisonous."

Metal deprication and reviving is covered mainly between pages 60-70, I have put the PDF at the bottom of this post if anyone would like a thorough read of it.

"Reviving bars" have featured in the eBay Listings (US &UK) section of the Forum in the past, and, if I see any more offered for sale, I shall list them.

Here's the Fry's book:
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Hi, Dave,

Yes indeed UK based. I think the system was- at least for really well run Monotype set ups - one very occasionally sent a small sample of the metal in circulation in your print shop off to Fry's they would analyse and send you a proper ingot to rebalance your stock.  This rather supposes that you had a separate melting furnace, not just tipping stuff endlessly back into the pot on the machine.  I think I recall that it was the tin one mostly lost somehow. Frys were at Merton in South London.

Dave Hughes

Yes, all the historical documents we look at were written when letterpress printing was the norm and took place on a large scale, quite different from the "niche" that it is today.

There was even mention in the Fry's book of making a calculation as to how much of your type metal was tied up in "standing matter" etc. Not much of an issue today, I would imagine.

You were quite right on the tin, it is only the antimony that needs to be replaced.

So, in the absence of Fry's, I guess the best you could do today is add a little antimony if you notice your type getting too soft. But even that is going to be tricky if the pot is just being hand-fed with scrap type.
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David Bolton

Some years ago I sought out the formula for Fromo, that is the reviving metal produced by Fry to be used as ┬Żlb of alloy per 1cwt of type metal in the remelting furnace.

When I asked in 1999, Fry had stopped, but Alpha Metals had taken over, though both were part of Cooksons, but they also had stopped producing reviver.

However, Alpha Metals did give me the proportions of metal in the Fromo. I am trying to find where I wrote it down! Have so far tracked down my letter to Alpha Metals, since e-mails failed to work. Probably I may have sent the info to Letpress, and I will try and search their archives.

David Bolton
The Alembic Press

David Bolton

Hooray - I have found the Fromo formula.

21.5% to 22.5% Tin
17.5% to 18.5% Antimony
59.5% to 60.5% Lead

As given to me by Neal Keyes of Fry Technology sometime between October 1999 and September 2000.

Hope this helps. Ken Mcgrath in New Zealand was able to get a local metal firm to make up this alloy.


In Australia Sims Metal were the people you sent your type casting metal to, to be analysed. They then sent a formulate product to add to the remelt pot. Type metals no longer seem to be part of their vocabulary.

It is around 60 years since any type casting machines were manufactured and around 40 years since they were used in the general printing industry.

Small dedicated printers and museums continue to use them but eventually no matter how skilled they are at keeping the machines running the metal, used over and over again, will not be suitable for letterpress printing
George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast

John Nixon

Hi David
Ken's material is now with us at the printing
And amongst it is a pallet the metal he had made and the conditioning metal.
You can of course view this in your next visit.

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