An Evening of Hand Composition

On Wednesday 26 October, members of the Baskerville Society became ‘apprentice compositors’ for the evening as they took up their composing sticks in the Parkside Print Room (BCU) under the able guidance of senior technician Naomi Midgley. None of the participants had any former experience of composing type and their motivation included simple curiosity, a desire to engage with their creative side or to have the opportunity of informing their scholarly work with practical experience.

Naomi gave members a brief history of movable type, explained the printer’s system of measurement and introduced them to the lay of a double case before showing them how to hold the composing stick, set the measure and pick up the type. Each participant was then invited to set up a line or two of type using text of their own choosing – of course, Baskerville was the typeface of choice for at least one participant! After grappling with the niceties of spacing, centring and leading, members were able to view the fruits of their labours and pull a proof on the Parkside Soldan proofing press.

All participants were delighted with their tentative steps as apprentice compositors and eager for the opportunity to develop their new-found skills still further.

If you would like to experience hand composition then do drop us and email and we will see what we can arrange.