Page 18 - February 2018
P. 18

FEATURE BOB RICHARDSON 9718


       The face with the
       highest proportion of
       copper was Centennial
       Script from the City
       Type Foundry in London


       of these proportions will add up to exactly
       100%, since most alloys also contain traces
       of copper, iron and nickel.).
         Among samples analysed in the Her-
       berger trials, the face with the highest
       proportion of copper was Centennial
       Script from the City Type Foundry in
       London (c1875) which approached 2% of
       that element. Some 19th century American
       foundries, including Barnhart Brothers
       & Spindler, and Mackellar, Smiths and
       Jordan, also produced foundry type with
       in excess of 2% copper content, high levels
       of tin and antimony and just 40-50% lead.
       The ‘science’ behind some of the pre-
       mium metal formulations was sometimes
       spurious, with a copper coin sometimes   An example of The City Type Foundry’s publicity material.
       (reputedly) thrown into the melting pot
       as justification of the term “copper alloy”.   offered for sale at an American Wayzgoose
       Although copper is beneficial in the pro-  a few years ago summed up the continued
       duction of hard foundry type, it can cause   success of the type metal alloy with the
       major problems when used in the alloys   apt slogan: ‘Lead Is Not Dead’. Plumbum’s
       employed by Monotype and Linotype ma-  pals, Tin and Antimony, also seem to be
       chines, and has to be excluded. The most   in fine fettle.
       serious metallic contaminant of type metal
       is zinc. A few tiny shavings can completely   Sources:
       ruin the alloy for type casting purposes.  Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersley-Williams,
         Type metal alloy is a miraculous com-  Penguin Books (2012)
       pound. In 550 years no adequate substitute   The Elements of Murder: A History of Poison
       has been found. St Bride Library collec-  by John Emsley, OUP (2005)
       tions include a small number of pieces   The Periodic Table by Paul Parsons &
       of plastic type, made in Russia, probably   Gail Dixon, Quercus Editions (2013)
       in the 1960s. Lightweight, durable and   Fry’s Printing Metals by Fry’s Metal
       relatively hard-wearing, it never became   Foundries Ltd (1966 edition)
       popular because of the very high cost and   Type Alloy Analysis Data Herberger
       limited range of faces available. A T-shirt   Institute & St Bride Library, London
       42
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