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Cutting an L

Cutting an L

Moveable type is nothing short of magical. Every single letter started as a shape that someone designed, engraved, and then, for metal type, filled with molten metal in order to make a tiny new shape that can be combined with other tiny shapes to make words and paragraphs and pages and books.

Above, there is a close-up of the lockup from this year's new year cards. Printers will immediately have noticed what was wrong. The experienced printers will have noticed more than one wrong thing.

Did you see it? Bang in the middle, there's a bit of metal looks like it's been torn apart. It's just to the left of the "f". It's actually been shaped, by hand, with a scalpel.

Wait, what?!

Yes. JP has shaped the letter "l", by hand, with a knife. (And no one got hurt!) See, the "f" extends beyond its block (look below the f and then extend the line upwards).
closeup of the f reaching beyond its block

Normally, for typefaces where the shape extends beyond the edge, you'd get additional sorts where the letter was combined with another to make a ligature. These exist in metal and wood type.
a big ligature
For example, fl, fi, ff, ffl, etc might be combined into a single shape. Unfortunately, my Perpetua Bold 24pt fount didn't have any ligatures when I acquired it. Even worse? None of the foundries have the mats for this fount, which means this is the very last of this fount, and it's impossible to get new sorts made. 😭

Fortunately, metal type is mostly lead, and is actually quite soft. JP was able to take a spare "l" from another 24pt bold fount (Gill Sans), slice away the top, and bottom to make it "work" next to the f. It's not perfect, but it's definitely good enough. Nifty, right?

In the final card, the L sits below the overhang of the F in "floats" and it looks quite pleasing.

When hope is not pinned wriggling onto a shiny image or expectation, it sometimes floats forth and opens. Anne Lamott