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Need Help Identifying Some Printing Stuff!

Started by sarahw83, February 08, 2011, 04:58:52 PM

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I'm writing this as we have a set of Stephenson Blake printing equipment at my work and none of us have any idea what it is/what to do with it and if it's worth anything! I wondered if anyone here can help identify it from the photos? Unfortunately several drawers are missing but the ones that are there are full of the tiny metal letters. Sorry I know nothing about printing so I don't even know if this is the right site but it seemed like a good place to start...

Thanks for your help,

Sarah :)

Dave Hughes

Hi, What you have is a cabinet containing several type-cases, with type.

It all looks in very good condition.

The lead letters were used in the letterpress printing process.
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Thanks for the reply. Do you think anyone would be interested in it and does anyone know how we might get a valuation? We are a charity and have no use for it so are looking to sell it.

Thank you :)

Dave Hughes

A closer look at the type is required.

Perhaps a close-up of one of the letters. Does it have a maker's mark on the side?

Also a list of what sizes and fonts are in the cabinet.

You may get someone on this site who is interested in making you an offer.

Also, where is the cabinet located, is it North London?

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Jeff Zilles [jeffo]

Further to Dave's comments I would add that there are eight cases of what would have been a 24 case cabinet - seven appear to contain type and the one at the bottom contains 'furniture' which could be either of the older wooden variety or the later improved but not universally accepted plastic sort.

One of the font labels attached to the cases can be read and comes in as '10 POINT - UNIVERS MEDIUM - ITALIC'.

The stuck-on markers that can be seen in the compartments of that particular case would indicate that this equipment had been used by a neophyte compositor [type-setter] or was thus prepared by an experienced 'comp' to help train one who was learning the craft.

The equipment appears to be in very good order and I would hazard to say had not been often used [what can be seen seems to have no discoloring which comes with use] and from the color of the metal I would guess that the fonts [case-lots of letters] are Monotype and not foundry.

Monotype can be easily distinguished by a characteristic angular or 'square' slot in the tall side of the piece on the face which would be at the bottom of the letter or number - this is difficult to describe adequately without an illustration.

Foundry Type, most times, has a curved slot, or two or three or so in varying positions on a similar place on the 'sort' [individual type piece] and often its vertical alignment may vary from font to font, thus to assist the compositor and present him with warning should he mistakenly commence to set 'wrong font' [unmatching] composition.

I hope that this brief explaination is clear enough to be understandable - while it seems alright to me, explaining something you have understood and taken for granted for a lifetime is often like describing a daisy to a person who has been blind since birth.




Thanks for all the advice. The labels for each drawer in turn are:

18pt Palace Script
10pt Univers Medium Italic
8pt Univers Medium
18pt Headline Bold
Light English Text (18pt)
14pt Rockwell Heavy
Script Temple (24pt)
No label (the drawer with the 'furniture' as Jeff called it)
12pt Univers Medium

I didn't see the last was hiding at the bottom!  I have posted several photos, including the best close ups I could get of an individual letter and the 'furniture' blocks here:

We are based near Southampton. I think we are definitely going to look to sell it so if you want to make us an offer or can advise how best to go about selling it, please message me.

Thank you,

Sarah :)


Thanks for all your help. I have now listed it in the classifieds and we will consider all reasonable offers if anyone is interested.


Dave Hughes

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