On a well earned day off a few weeks ago, we headed over to visit Hand & Eye Letterpress in the East End. Tucked under the railway arches, the workshop is run by Phil Abel with Nick Gill. It's a great space, and despite clearly being a hive of activity, it's spotless.
Phil is a long standing letterpress printer, having started Hand & Eye in 1985. So it's fair to say he has built up quite a collection of machines and type. We were introduced to their two Heidelbergs (a platen and cylinder – originally from the Gregynog Press) which sit alongside a FAG proofing press. Surrounding them are cases and cases of type. And in one corner are the Monotype casters.
Nick is the resident type caster, and through a rather dangerous-sounding process of trial and error, has got their Monotype Composition Caster and Supercaster up and running. The Composition Caster is computer operated, negating the need for keyboards and other hard to come by equipment. It also means that casting is slightly easier, so they can supply brand new type to people. This was made more exciting once we had a look at the collection of matrices the foundry has so far acquired.
We finished off the visit finding out from Nick about the Type Museum (or perhaps more accurately, archive), where he volunteers. It turns out all is well there, and things are in the pipeline. We left clutching some beautiful printed pieces, discussing what new type we needed...