TOOLS OF THE TRADE: type
QUESTION #1: What is the difference between type, font and typeface?
ANSWER #1: Oh goodness, couldn’t you have started out with an easier question? Can we move this question to the end of the list or save it for another day?
QUESTION #2: What is type?
ANSWER #2: Even before typewriters, there was type. According to Merriam-Webster, type is defined as: (1) : a rectangular block usually of metal bearing a relief character from which an inked print can be made (2) : a collection of such blocks <a font of type> (3) : alphanumeric characters for printing <the type for this book has been photoset>, b : typeface <italic type>, c : printed letters, d : matter set in type. You do know what a typewriter is don’t you?
QUESTION #3: What is type made of?
ANSWER #3: Type can be made of a variety of materials. For letterpress printing wood type and metal type are most commonly used.
QUESTION #4: Letterpress technology, if it can be called a technology, is so old, so archaic. Does anyone even bother to make type anymore?
ANSWER #4: Yes, the totally awesome, cool, stylish, radically hip, good looking people at M&H Type still make metal type. Also, the equally sophisticated, highly intelligent, charming and spunky folks at Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum still make wood type. They do this using good old fashioned foundry and wood carving methods. Why? The answer is the same reason as to why people bake cookies from scratch. It tastes better that way.
QUESTION #5: Do you have any tips to share about type?
ANSWER #5: Yes, if you come across some type, please don’t melt it down as scrap metal or make jewelry out of it (unless of course the type is terribly and hopelessly pied). It can still be used to print with. Instead, find your friendly neighborhood letterpress printer — there’s likely one in a garage, basement, barn or warehouse studio near you, producing prints quietly, shyly, out of the spotlight, like an inky gnome or a paper elf – and give it to them, or better yet, send it to us, we’re friendly too. We’ll print something from it to send to you as a little “thank you” gift. Thank you.