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The print shop holds a large amount of moveable metal type used for compositing and printing. All of this type has been accumulated through donations over the years. Our most valuable acquisition has been an almost complete collection of Garamond donated by Massey University five years ago. The collection includes regular, bold, and italic in point sizes 14 – 36. The type is in good quantities (the type trays are full) and very good quality. But that isn’t the case with all of our type.

New volunteer Scott Pilkington and myself, have begun the process of assessing all of our moveable metal type in what we call a ‘Type Census’. We began with two days dedicated to assessing the type in late January, using a form of our own devising to catalogue each tray of type: What typeface is it? What is the point size? What is the general condition of the type, including how complete the tray is? Are there missing letters? How full is the tray and is it still usable? How well organised is the tray? Does the type need reorganising? Does the physical tray need repairs?

We organised for a light to be installed so that we could see what we were doing in a storeroom in February to assess the last load of trays. All of the information we gathered is being entered into spreadsheets for assessment. Scott and I will produce a report that gives a picture of the MOTAT type collection. The report will also include recommendations of which type is no longer of use (half empty trays with lots of type missing) and can be scrapped, and, more importantly, what areas of our collection need attention, be that tray repairs, or buying new type to fill collection gaps. It may seem like boring administration, but the possibility of improving the collection is exciting!

-by Makyla Curtis

Photos courtesy of Scott Pilkington

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