I have been using an office calendar and fee schedule which is a computer print from an adobe file. It's ok . . . such as it is. It gets the information across, and doesn't look like a low budget photocopy. But I wanted something that was a notch above a computer printout. In fact, several notches above. What the heck, I have a fully equipped Letterpress shop! Let's ratchet that hand-out up to the mini-broadside level. Heh, see if anybody notices.
First I wanted a conservative but decorative border. The "dash-and-cross" 6 pt. ornaments should do fine. These are 6 pt. Maltese crosses separated by 14 pt. tapered ended open face dash ornaments set on their sides (equal to 6 pt.)
The top header is 14 pt Spencerian swash. The Title is 12 pt. Copperplate light, the body text and figures are 10 pt. Caslon OS 337, the very same as used at Colonial Williamsburg. The fee prices, however, is set in 10 pt Century Schoolbook.
This piece was stick set 5 rows at a time. The separation lines are foundry line rule cut to fit the 19 pica inside width (width between the ornamental border) but notched out to 16 pic, to avoid having to piece in leads. I used a tin nibbler for this. A very clean cutter.
The below photo shows the forme just a few lines short of completed, with the finishing piece on the composition stick, to show how the body and border is set together and built up line upon line. Not a simple composition.
To orient you, the forme is upside down. This is the way type is set in the stick, and also the orientation in which the forme ( the forme is the composed type, assembled to create a printed image) is set in the press. This way the printer sees the printed image upright.
Here is where I am at today. Only three more lines to couple to the rest of the forme which is tied up in my "work" galley, which is a heavy bronze tray, quite unlike the magnetic steel trays which are very thin by comparison. I use the bronze tray for purposes such as this, to hold large formes during assembly. The trick here is the Maltese cross corners. The count of lines must work out so that there is a Maltese cross at each corner, yet spacing of leads, quads and lines do not create an unbalanced appearance. Truth be told, I'll be glad if the whole thing locks up and I don't have to spend another hour troubleshooting each line with coppers! I hate having to shim the daylights out of a forme to make it work!
I can only work on this project for a couple hours per day due to having a full time other job - namely at the place for which I am spending all this time and effort, my Optical Dispensary tucked away in a neat little corner of the Sam's Club in Sanford, Florida. It has taken me several nights of burning midnight oil to get this far, a couple hours in my crowded little cubby hole print shop each night. Building up a border simultaneously with rows of leads and body type can be a little tricky, and just plain difficult to slide from the stick, slide in one piece with a million pieces wanting to break loose, and join to the main body without something falling over. If you like 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzles, you'll love pegging type! All told, I have about five hours of setting time in this forme as I write, and about another hour to go. But then, this is hand-wrought production printing in the most traditional of manner!
This is a close-up of the header and title with a corner of border so you can see some of the minute detailing. Note the Maltese cross at the corner. It's really an elegant border, I can't wait to pull a proof! My plans are to have this job completed, cut and printed by Tuesday.
I have been asked how much I would charge for something like this. That's a tough one, probably about the same as the per-hour rate I charge designing on FreeHand or Illustrator. Composing type embodies three dynamics simultaneously: Design, "plating", and Proof reading. Or at least, it can. It is very labour intensive and there is a right and wrong way to go about it.
That's it for this installment. Hopefully - if I don't figure out a way to pie the forme - the next installment will feature the finished product. Till then . . .
. . . good Providence in all your Letterpress Endeavours!