Founders Type Alignments
A Mostly Forgotten Feature of Founders Type
Almost all proper Founders type had a feature with American origins. Most their very high quality output conformed to one of three alignments, so that type from any size within or outside one design family would align at foot if set within the same line, using adjustment leading if required.
Founders type – for example that cast by Stephenson Blake in Sheffield – is cast at a higher temperature and in a much tougher alloy (which normally has a small copper content) compared with type cast on ‘Monotype’ machines.
This alignment was well sustained over many, many years production and though design purists may scoff, it was a most useful practical feature in the composing room's jobbing work.
The three alignments were set so that the depth of ‘beard’ (from the foot of the printed face, down to the foot of the cast body) was a certain number of exact full points.
Many text faces were identically cast to ‘Point Common Line’ as follows:
|5pt - 6pt||1pt||36pt||7pt|
|7pt - 10pt||2pt||42pt||8pt|
|11pt - 16pt||3pt||48pt||10pt|
|18pt - 20pt||4pt||54pt||11pt|
Titling faces, i.e. those without a set of lowercase within the design, were cast to ‘Point Title line’, and for this all types from 5 point to 16 point had an identical one point ‘beard’ 18 and 24 point had two points beard, 30 point to 48 point had three points, and 54 point to 72 point had four points.
And finally there was ‘Point Script Line’ (sometimes called ‘Point Art Line’) which was not only for script faces, but some ‘art’ designs with very long descenders. The extended beards allowed for very long descenders. This alignment had particular value when setting Copperplate Script styles of typeface.
Here's the ‘Point Script Line’ table:
|6pt - 8pt||2pt||36pt||12pt|
This was only true for proper ‘Foundry’ cast type, not normally true for type cast on Monotype Machines. They had a very sophisticated system which evolved over the years, notionally fixed in thousandths of an inch, different for each different type family. This system was often not used with the discipline it deserved. Much second-hand Monotype cast type aligns poorly with other founts that should theoretically be the same. ‘This new 12 point Gill Sans wont align with my old,’ is a common complaint!
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