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Typography.Guru
Ralf Herrmann

Type case vs. Type drawer

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Ralf Herrmann

So I assume this is based on what is more traditional, is it? Or is there anything else wrong with type drawer? 

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Riccardo Sartori

Maybe it just depends on how tidy and organised the press operator is... :winking:

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George Thomas

According to wikipedia, a type case is the cabinet which holds each font of type in what is called a job case.

 

  • baffling 1

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Ralf Herrmann

Oh, wow! It doesn’t actually define it as the cabinet, but it certainly can be (mis-)read this way and the authors of that article might have misunderstood it as well. No experts in the field use it this way, do they?

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George Thomas

The way I interpreted it is the cabinet holds the drawers or trays, and those are referred to as job cases. I'm not sure what the old-timers called it, and I haven't worked in a metal shop for decades so I don't remember clearly what terminology we may have used although I do believe we used the term "type cabinet". I do remember that the term for distributing type was "casing type" so it makes sense the drawer or tray was called a "typecase". Several online dictionaries offer this definition:

typecase. n. (Printing, Lithography & Bookbinding) a compartmental tray for storing printer's type.

Dictionary.com has this to say (in defining the word case):

case n   ...   Its application in the printing trade (first recorded 1580s) to the two trays where compositors keep their types in separate compartments for easy access led to upper-case letter for a capital (1862) and lower-case for small letters.

"The cases, or receptacles, for the type, which are always in pairs, and termed the 'upper' and the 'lower,' are formed of two oblong wooden frames, divided into compartments or boxes of different dimensions, the upper case containing ninety-eight and the lower fifty-four. In the upper case are placed the capital, small capital, and accented letters, also figures, signs for reference to notes &c.; in the lower case the ordinary running letter, points for punctuation, spaces for separating the words, and quadrats for filling up the short lines." ["The Literary Gazette," Jan. 29, 1859]

So it appears that the word typecase more accurately refers to the drawer or tray. If you asked in the forums at briarpress.org you could probably get some input from current letterpress folk.

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