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The fonts supplied in the Adana ‘printer’s office’ were quite limited. Lead was expensive and heavy, so you might get only five or six letter e’s and even fewer of the less common ones per font. If you ran out whilst typesetting a job (‘out of sorts’), there was nothing you could do about it.

So one day I bunked off school and my dad took me and Albert to the Mouldtype foundry in Preston. Men in brown overcoats worked at Monotype casters, each of which had a pot of molten lead at the top. Rows and rows of brand new letters marched out like soldiers: aaaaabbbccccdddeeeeeeefff … until all the uppercase, lowercase, punctuation marks and any special characters like diphthongs (eg œ) and ligatures – letters which overlapped each other in certain typefaces – such as ffl – had been cast. The completed font was then skilfully bound with twine and placed in a labelled box ready to be sold.

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