Thursday, July 15, 2010

Procrastinating- Berlin alphabet

I bought this set of type 10 years ago in Berlin. At the time I thought they where rubber stamps- and it might turn out that they are in fact rubber stamps, but lately my theory is that they are some hybrid letterpress. They seem to be a very hard rubber that has been glued onto some pine bases. For the arguments pro and contra them being letterpress:-


The rubber is too hard for rubber stamps and it seems to reject water based inks. The ink tends to separate on the surface of the letter making it hard to get good coverage and a dark print (in next post). As I bought them in Berlin from someone selling various pillaged things from the former East, it could have just been bad quality rubber.


The bases seem to be some kind of pine or other soft wood. Pine is not usually used in moveable type as it gets dented too easily. I have been wondering though whether the rubber tops have been removed from their original bases and remounted as the bases have no ink stains and x heights are also not consistent. The other fact that counts against these being moveable type is that the profile is too high for moveable type.

I can’t remember what the standard measurement is for type, Caren has it pasted helpfully on the wall opposite from where you would stand in order to set the pressure of the press: the beast (I’m not sure whether it has a nickname or gender- for me it is gender neutral). My memory says .987 but maybe that’s from an inch? All the measurements for type and furniture we have in the Book Studio are in inches (is all moveable type like this?), which make all the measurements really abstract for me.

However whatever the original use of these letters, I am going to cut the bases and use them as moveable type. And as there is only one alphabet I have started to make several sets of letters in polymer by filling up some of the negative spaces on the films I set to get the centre of the Nature Strip chapzine made.

Of course I have absolutely no spare time to be doing this or writing this entry- I am filming part of the Aichi work tomorrow and have things to do before then- but I find myself being quiet fascinated by this little project.

Along with the questions above my main question is: What is the type font? And what would the capitals look like? Any ideas out there?

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm... type is 0.918 of an inch high, and usually all wood, all metal or a mixture, but I've never seen rubber used unless they were stamps. The font itself is like a variation of Modern #20, which is supplied on most Macs. It's the sort of font they use for the title of Vogue or some other magazine.

    I don't think I'm helping much, but just thought I'd chip in!