The C.C. Stern Type Foundry offers informational presentations and lectures, hands-on workshops, and discussions related to type design, typecasting, and printing. Programming focuses on the history, importance and influence of metal type in the United States, particularly after the advent in the late Nineteenth Century of mechanical typesetting. Our purpose is both to preserve the machinery and technical skill of an important industrial era and to create a bridge between historical and contemporary uses of typography.
Working Museum Open Hours
Every third Saturday of the month, between 11:00am and 3:00pm, we welcome visitors to our working displays and reference library to learn about the craft of casting type in metal. Our holdings include an extensive collection of molds and matrices, in addition to a Hand Mould, Monotype, Linotype and Ludlow machinery for casting both composition and sort matter for letterpress printing. Here visitors will have an opportunity to see how a composition keyboard works; examine the engraved matrices for such legendary typefaces as Bodoni, Futura, Janson and Gill Sans*; and watch the ingenious workings of a caster as we manufacture individual pieces of printing type. Our reference library includes fine press publications as well as technical manuals and exposes on type design and casting. We also accept reservations for educational group tours.
*We also have New Times Roman, Univers, Cochin, Helvetica, Memphis, Goudy, Garamond, Kabel and hundreds more that represent the rich legacy of metal type design.
Orphan Annie Sorts Casting
The Orphan Annie Monotype Sorts Caster is capable of casting single characters from 6pt to 36pt. The first of our collection to be restored to working order, this machine was purchased from a boys’ school in Michigan and originally rebuilt for Stern & Faye Printers with the assistance of Jim Rimmer of Pie Tree Press. This machine has been returned to operational capacity, while meeting environmental, safety and display needs of a museum setting.
Among the assets of the C.C. Stern Type Foundry is the one-of-a-kind set of matrices for Jim Rimmer’s Stern typeface. These matrices, designed and engraved by the legendary type designer Jim Rimmer in 2008 in honor of his friend C. Christopher Stern, and released simultaneously in a digital form by P22 Type Foundry, were entrusted to the C.C. Stern Type Foundry. Jim also bequeathed a case of Stern that he personally cast before his death in early 2010. One of the goals of our organization is to cast additional fonts of Stern that can be used for a variety of programs focused on typography, printing and book arts education.
Portland’s Typecasting Heritage Project
In 2011, we began to interview individuals from the NW printing industry, asking them questions about their work experiences, technology, and work places. We interviewed a number of retired type casters and printers from well respected local commercial craft printers that trained and employed the most highly skilled practitioners of the trade. Participants represent the highest caliber of craftspeople, and many are of advancing age. From their stories we will begin to construct a historical record that is multifaceted and allow us to distribute this information to others. In future years we hope to expand this programming to those outside of the region in order to document the experiences of the last generation who were trained on this equipment and became masters of the craft of typecasting in the course of their everyday jobs. We intend for this work to be a bridge from the past to the future of this craft, to give voice to the machines and artifacts that make up the type foundry. Read excerpts from histories or tell us your story.
Presentations & Type Jams
The C.C. Stern Type Foundry offers occasional lectures, screenings, and discussions related to designing, casting and printing metal type. These are intended to be informal and educational, and to provide a forum for those interested in both the historical & contemporary uses of traditional printing types. Presentations are held in the museum space and at institutions in the community, and are open to the general public. Volunteers continue to be available to tailor a presentation or to introduce a screening at area schools, organizations or events for a nominal donation.
Programs available to groups:
Presentation: “How is Printing Type Made?” (45 min-1.5 hours
This presentation and lecture includes information about printing type manufacture, from wood type faces to metal hand casting; production foundry; and line and Monotype casting. The presentation includes an overview of typecasting processes and includes a demonstration of casting type with a hand-held type mould.
Movie Screening: “Farewell Etaoin Shrdlu” (45 minutes-1 hour
A screening and discussion featuring a documentary about the last night of hot metal typesetting at the New York Times. Made by David Loeb Weiss, a retired proofreader at the New York Times, in collaboration with Carl Schlesinger, then a Linotype operator at the Times, the film follows the issue of July 2, 1978, as the paper was “put to bed,” as the nightly ritual of typesetting, composing and printing was known. Filmed at the newspaper’s offices on West 43rd Street, the 28-minute documentary captures a process that was largely unchanged since 1886, when Ottmar Mergenthaler invented the Linotype machine. The film was released in 1980.
Museum Tour (1-2 hours
This presentation and lecture can be tailored to your specific class or group objectives and the participants’ level of letterpress printing knowledge.