The horizontal specification of type consists of two things: (1) the set (aka set width) of the body of each type, and (2) the horizontal alignment of the printable face on the body of each type. Together these determine the horizontal "fit" of the resulting letterforms when printed together. Establishing them is termed "fitting."
While the lining of type since the late Victorian era typically involves at least an entire series and more typically many series, the fitting of type is done entirely within a single member of a series. Lining between more than one member of a series is an essentially modern proposition. It has been done systematically for only the last century and a half. Fitting is an ancient undertaking. It has been necessary for every type since Gutenberg.
Issues Regarding the Beard
[NOT DONE] Casting practices - beard-to-beard, kerned, smaller-than-beard-to-beard. Machine issues - Monotype, Linotype Cutter limitations and matrix techniques - remaking via electroforming. Open question of Goudy's special molds.
The beard in relation to depth of drive. Refer somewhere to modern preference for tighter fitting - 21st century vs. early 20th; early 20th vs. 19th.
The Fashionable Set
The fashions for the set and spacing of type have changed over the decades, yet each generation firmly believes that its fashion is somehow objectively correct. This presents issues not only to the maker of new types, but also to the typefounder working with older matrices.
[NOT FINISHED] It turns out that most 20th century spacing material is point-set, even though the introductory textbooks ignore this (except Polk!)
Unit-set type is a minor footnote in 19th century typemaking. It was only produced in any quantity by Benton, Waldo & Co. (under the misleading trade-name "Self Spacing" type). Benton in turn was preceded by at least three others. In the 20th century, however, with the advent of tape-controlled typesetting it returned as an integral part of first the Monotype and later the Teletypesetter. Curiously, one of Benton's predecessors in the 19th century, Munson, developed a tape-controlled, unit-set typesetter before Lanston's Monotype.
Point-set type is theoretically distinct from unit-set type. Both are systems of reducing the number of set widths to which type is made. But where in unit-set type a basic unit is established (usually by a relationship to the body size) and then subdivided, in point-set type there is no overall unit or subdivision of the unit. Types are simply cast to set widths which are integral or simple fractional points.
By 1899 the Inland Type Foundry was advertising their unit-set type as "point-set" type . In the 20th century, the Mergenthaler Linotype Company was providing point-set matrices for types for tabular work. (Confusingly, they called these "self-spacing faces," even though Benton's "self-spacing" types were unit-set rather than point-set.)
Slant and Wing Bodies
Ligatures and Logotypes
1. There will always be some question of terminology, because historically much of the terminology of type has been used in inconsistent ways. Innumerable examples could be cited both to support and refute the way I use this term here (to express the combination of set width and horizontal alignment on the body). I happened across three in quick succession when reading Richard L. Hopkins' book Tolbert Lanston and the Monotype (Tampa, FL: University of Tampa Press, 2011). To see them properly you should buy his book and refer to it (you should buy his book anyway; it is essential reading for anyone interested in metal type). They should serve to illustrate the terminological issue and to ground it in historical practice.
First, on p. 57, Hopkins reprints a a page from a Lanston Monotype Machine Company specimen booklet for the typeface "Janson," published in 1937. In it, Lanston extols the virtues of Sol Hess' new Janson, "a Closely Fitted Type Face" and describes its features which allow its tight horizontal fit (e.g., the use of kerns, which are matters of horizontal alignment and set width).
Yet only two pages earlier, Hopkins cites another publication which has a different defintion of "fitting." In an article by Frank M. Sherman, "Sol Hess, Type Man of the Year 1952" in The Trade Compositor (International Trade Composition Association, 1952), p. 11 we have a definition of a "type fitter" as "the artist who dictates the shape and length of serifs, the size of the counters, the length of ascenders and descenders, the weight of stems, etc., which make word forms into harmonious unit [sic] and contributes so much to easy reading..." (quoted on pp. 54-55 of Hopkins book). In this sense, "fitting" is clearly a matter of letterform design, not set width and horizontal alignment.
A few pages later, Hopkins reprints a fascinating proof of Artscript during development (documents such as this one, which shows a typeface in a clearly imperfect form, are of great value in learning to make type). In the typewritten notes accompanying this proof, Sol Hess himself says "Design and fitting of some characters will be altered." It would seem that Hess distinguished between the design of the characters (letterforms) and their fitting, which is in accord with my usage here.
Letterform design, set width, and horizontal alignment are all of course related. Matters of design can allow or deny matters of horizontal alignment and set width (e.g., in metal type you can't overlap the printing faces). Matters of set and horizontal alignment can also allow or deny intentions of design (e.g., if you can't have or don't want kerns, there are limits to how close you can fit type). But in a technical work such as the present book it seems best to adopt certain terms as clearly defined technical terms. So here I'll use "fit"/"fitting" to mean set and horizontal alignment, and put all matters of the shapes of letterforms in the category of "design."
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