The C.C. Stern Type Foundry’s Museum of Metal Typography is a working museum–with a focus on “working.” With one of the largest collections of Monotype casting matrices in the United States, the C.C. Stern Type Foundry honors the memory of C. Christopher Stern, who built and operated the foundry at Stern & Faye, Printers of Sedro-Woolley, Washington.
Chris started the foundry because, with so few commercial type foundries left in the world, metal type was becoming increasingly expensive and difficult to find. Many shops relied on printing from plates or on randomly found fonts of worn out type, which often have limited or missing characters. For their job work, Chris Stern and his partner Jules Faye often printed from photoengraved plates, but for book work, they always printed from metal type. The ability to have enough fresh type on hand for book projects allowed them to do work they couldn’t otherwise afford to do. They cast type for books and chapbooks, broadsides and numerous other smaller projects. Occasionally Chris offered composition typecasting or filled type cases for a handful of Seattle area letterpress printers.
Chris and Jules were very fortunate to be pals with Jim (I-can-fix-anything) Rimmer, the renowned letterpress printer, linoleum-cut illustrator, type designer and type caster extraordinaire. In early 1995, Jim told Chris and Jules about a monotype caster being retired from the Boys Technical College in Michigan. With Jim’s encouragement and generous promise of ongoing assistance, they decided to purchase it. In the summer of 1995, Chris attended the first annual Monotype University hosted by Rich Hopkins and co-taught with Paul Hayden Duensing. Rich, Paul, Chris and four other students worked from 9:00 am until midnight for five days in 90° weather. The whole time exclaiming, “What fun!”
Shortly after that, Tom Taylor, of the now defunct periodical Bookways, offered them a deal on his excess type foundry equipment. Chris and Jules flew to Austin, Texas and returned with a 35 foot trailer very full of what became their type foundry. Another machine was acquired from Pat Reagh of Sebastapol, California. Today, the collection includes two American composition casters, a English comp caster, an Orphan Annie sorts caster, a Thompson sorts caster, a Material Maker strip caster, a Giant Caster sorts caster, a Linotype, a Ludlow, a Pantograph, a hand casting mold, and several Monotype keyboards, all in various states of repair and resurrection. The type library consists of nearly 1,000 mat cases.
Chris Stern passed away in the fall of 2007. In June 2008, the foundry was moved by friends and fellow printers from its home in Sedro-Woolley, Washington to a storage facility near Portland, Oregon and plans were made for a new home: the C.C. Stern Type Foundry. In March 2011, we opened the doors of our public museum.