We had a special guest a few weeks back! David Shields, curator of the Rob Roy Kelly Collection at UT Austin came to town for the weekend. He and Mary went through the collection and made a very detailed map of the layout of the drawers in the shop.

David also solved the labeling mystery. On each drawer there is a number, example 15-55. We knew the first number was the line height. The second number stumped us. We knew it had to do with the weight of the character, a 55 was skinner than a 65, but it was all proportional to the line height.

When David came to visit he brought with him a Globe Wood Type catalog that he had found. Globe Wood Type is a company based out of Philly. Relationship? We’re looking into it. The catalog solved the mystery, the second number matched the order numbers in the catalog. A very practical way for printers to order more of the same type.

The MICA friends stopped by the shop to meet David and do some type sorting. We did a practice run for the big sort part II that starts today. The plan is to go through the collection each drawer at a time and alphabetize, and each height with more than one drawer will be equalized. By the end we will know exactly how many of every letter is in the collection.

We got to put our department chairs to work too. Gail and Whitney dug into the Copper Black corner, and put some lost letters back in their homes.

Our friend Zoe, a fellow MICA GD senior came to the shop for the day too. She got more than just a visit though, she got a thesis crit from David. Zoe’s thesis project is 2012 calendar that highlights 12 important innovations in the history of letterpress. The type she is using is scanned and vectorized for polymer plates but all of the type comes from specimen sheets from the Rob Roy Kelly Collection. David had some really fun insights to share with us about that collection.

The digital proofs of Zoe’s calendar are magnificent. I can’t wait to see the real letterpress deal. We will let you know when it gets released for purchase.