Double Dagger is a 16pp broadsheet printed by letterpress on a Heidelberg SBB Cylinder Press using type that has been machine set on a Monotype Composition Caster.
The ability of the Monotype Caster, invented by Tolbert Lanston at the end of the nineteenth century, to produce individual hot-metal characters at a rate of three per second in justified galleys of type was a breakthrough that spread beyond the worlds of publishing and printing.
Recently printing by letterpress from hot metal and wood type has seen something of a revival, partly fuelled by a generation looking for an antidote to the screen.
The page of letterpress printed text cannot be reproduced digitally and offers the senses – touch, sight and even smell – something completely different to much of today’s commercial printing.
We are not arguing that all technological advances in print should be reversed 50 years, but, when printing from original artwork there is no better companion than to use type which has been cast in hot-metal.
Our current issue features a plethora of articles and artwork by some of our favourites…we hope you enjoy…
“Justus Walbaum, a clergyman’s son from Steinlah, was apprenticed as a boy at the Konditorei where he learned to engrave pastry patterns into wood. Justus transferred this skill to letter-cutting and on setting up his type foundry in 1796 he began making typefounders’ matrices and tools…”
So begins issue 2 of Double Dagger whose pages are adorned with Monotype’s faithful interpretation of Justus Walbaum’s letters, in both the regular (series 374) and the bold (series 375). The issue features articles by Geri McCormick and Mark van Wageningen of Virgin Wood Type and Novo Typo respectively, both of whom make type in the physical form.
Kiva Stimac’s interview is illustrated with two linocuts she produced for Wolf Eyes and Moor Mother gigs at her Popolo Press in Montréal and Spike of the Walden Press has also cut a lino for us — his Thompson Gem platen named Harold. Thomas Mayo talks us through the making of a Hexagonal wood type project he recently undertook and John Craig has cut his Venice typeface into lino alongside notes on the difficulties of doing so.
The centrefold is awash with black . . . Stanley Donwood’s The Contagion of New Troy accompanies his article, The Culture of Entitlement and Edwin Pickstone writes on the nature of the book in the on demand society. We finish with a letter from a Mr Paul Kershaw railing against our dismissal of the polymer plate printer who we dismissed as the anti-hero in issue 1.
The binding agent between all of our pages and contributors is a desire to print from the third-dimension, using both the tools that Gutenberg left us over 500 years ago and the tools of today such as the laser cutter which is responsible for cutting the front & back covers. Printing using wood and lead type cannot be replicated digitally – the look, the feel, and even the smell offer an antidote to much of today’s commercial printing.