A delightful short movie by the San Francisco Chronicle showing Lewis Mitchell at work, casting type on Monotype machines in the basement at the Arion Press in San Francisco.
“I thoroughly enjoy the sound of the machines turning, and seeing the type come out is a joy,” Mitchell said. He can tell by the sound of the moving springs and levers if something is awry with his machines — a skill he said all good technicians should have. Four different owners have run the business since Mitchell walked through the doors at age 18, and he has had several opportunities to leave, including a scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that he declined. Now 80, Mitchell can’t imagine retiring from the job he loves so much. When Mitchell started making this kind of type, it was really the only way to print things, and now he doesn’t know how many books he’s helped print over the decades.
Mercifully there are, in fact, many more than two trade typesetters worldwide who can cast type using the Monotype system and there are a handful operating in the UK. Hand & Eye Letterpress, Gloucester Typesetters (tel: 01453 825 623), Speedspools, The Carpathian Press & Letterpress Works cast type to order while there are a few more UK private presses who cast type solely for their own letterpress projects.