Type and Presses

Firefly Press has over 250 cases of type. We hand set most brief texts and all large display type.

The challenge of mechanical typesetting was solved by two inventions: the Linotype and the Monotype. Firefly Press has both.

The Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century brought many technical advances to letterpress printing. All type continued to be set by hand until around the end of the century, however, when the challenge of mechanical type-setting was met by two inventions: the Linotype and the Monotype. Firefly Press has both.

Firefly has the advantages of having both Linotype and Monotype casters.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Linotype and the Monotype technologies revolutionized printing as nothing else had since the invention of movable type. They made possible an enormous increase in productivity. Furthermore, printers could now work from fresh type and never have to worry about running out of sorts.

Now that commercial type foundries have all but disappeared and it is difficult and very expensive to buy new foundry type, Linotype and Monotype machines are the major source of metal type for letterpress printing. Firefly Press has both Linotype and Monotype composition casters, which make the setting of lengthy texts feasible. We have set and printed books of over 100 pages. The Monotype, which casts letters as individual types, also supplies our cases for hand setting. Each machine offers typefaces that are unique to it. If you want to print from Electra, or Fairfield, or Monticello type, you need a Linotype; if you want to print from Centaur or Bell or Perpetua type, you need Monotype.

Besides our composition casters that machine set type up to 14 point, Firefly also has a Monotype Super Caster that makes type up to 72 points for hand setting. All told, between composition and display sizes, we have matrices for over 300 fonts of type, representing styles from many different countries and from the 15th to the 20th centuries.

The Linotype operates by arranging, via a keyboard, not individual types but individual matrices into a line of text, from which an entire line (Line O' Type) is cast as a single slug.
The Monotype operates in two phases. An operator uses a keyboard to generate a punched paper tape. The tape, working like a player piano roll, directs the cast-ing machine to position individual matrices over a mold, one at a time, so that individual letters are cast as composed text.