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The Bibliographical Press: Glossary

The Bibliographical Press at the Yale University Library aims to educate the Yale and wider communities on the history, practice, and significance of printing and the book arts.

Printing Terminology

Bed = the flat surface that holds the form (type) to be printed

Chase = iron frame that allows the form (type) to be locked up

Composing stick = small metal device used to set small amounts of type in one's hand

Frisket = thin metal frame attached to the tympan on which paper is stretched; it overlays the tympan to keep the portion of the paper not to be printed clean

Form = the arrangement of type and/or image block to be printed

Furniture = blocks of wood or metal, less than type-high, used to fill out around the form (type) to the edge of the chase to facilitate lock up

Galley = metal tray that holds set type waiting to be moved to the bed of the press

Leads = strips of metal, less than type-high, put between lines of type to add white space

Platen = the part of the press that applies pressure to the form (type)

Quoins / Key = quoins are expandable metal devices used to take up the last amount of space in the form and to ensure very tight lock up. They are opened and closed with a key.

Tympan = surface that holds the paper to be printed; it is a metal frame hinged to the bed of the press and stretched with "tympan paper."

Type = Composite of lead, tin, and antimony that can be molded into individual letterforms that can be combined in infinite permutations to created printed works.  Foundry type is harder and is intended to be reused many times; monotype is less hard and is intended to be used less before it is melted and recast.

Type case = the drawer in which one font is kept

Type face = name of the style/look of the letterforms such as Caslon or Garamond

Type stand = cabinet with a sloping front that allows ease of access to a type case while setting type

Type high = a measure of .918 of an inch, the height of the surface to be printed, all else must be lower


NB: Some of these definitions are adapted from Printing with the Handpress by Lewis M. Allen (1969) or from the extensive glossary at the Briar Press website.

Associate Director for Special Collections

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Jessica Pigza
Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library