THE TREASURE OF ST. BRIDE—PART II
PHOTOGRAPHS: ST. BRIDE LIBRARY
TWO OF THE GIANTS in type founding were the Caslon and Figgins foundries. Based in London, both operated in various guises from the 18th to the 20th century. What remains of these enormous ventures can be found at St. Bride Library in Fleet Street, the historical neighborhood of printers and newspapers. Since opening in 1895, St. Bride has become a leading collection of printing and graphic design material, much of it collected under its past librarian James Mosley, now at Reading University.
Mosley acquired the punches of the Caslon foundry In the 1970s. There were over one thousand boxes, weighing more than three tons. He also brought to St. Bride the matrices of Steven Shanks, successors to Figgins.
The machine tools of the great English type design innovations of the 19th century are: Sans, Egyptians, Italians, Tuscans and Clarendons. Full of character and vigor, these typefaces were made by skilled engravers—by hand. Here we see the punches that the foundries used to make the matrices, the molds, from which the type was cast.—PAUL BARNES
Paul Barnes is a partner in Commercial Type, and a trustee of St. Bride Library. His work includes a number of type families inspired by the rush of designs in 19th-century England, such as Brunel (used for display in the print edition of TYPE No. 1), Austin, and Chiswick. A more complete bio is on the foundry’s site.
THE TREASURE, PART I
Vincent Winter, a typographer and designer in Paris, visited St. Bride for TYPE, and takes us through the Library—its books, specimen sheets, trade publications, printed ephemera, as well as type, punches and matrices. See “The treasure of St. Bride: Part I.”
ST. BRIDE LIBRARY
Maintaining this collection and surrounding it with programs, is a massive and costly effort. Most of the work is done by volunteers. You can support their cause—the sustainability of St. Bride Library—by contributing on their site.