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peterong.com » 2007» November

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Hot type!

Remember the old hot metal days? The smell of lead fumes, the black ink on your hands, the chinagraph pencil with which you make corrections on slightly wet page proofs?

In India, hot metal is still very much alive!

I stumbled upon a row of printers using hot metal type for wedding card invitations, name cards, and other stationery in Jalandhar in Punjab.

They directed me to Jain Type Foundry in a dusty, run-down part of the city. The foundry has been in the same premises since 1949, according to its owner.

Mr Jain sits behind a desk with a glass top. Behind him is a wall of invitation cards, business cards and all sorts of stationery styles. He does not move from his seat. If someone wants to buy some type, he merely takes the order and directs his assistant to the back room.

Mr Jain knows exactly where the typefaces are in one of his hundreds of drawers.

I found a set of Univers Bold Condensed in 36 pt for 1100 rupees (about US$27). But they weigh 7.5kg.

And believe it or not, they still stocked some wooden typefaces. I grabbed a set of italic type also in 36pt.

Jain Type Foundry is a step back in time! You can see more pictures on my Facebook account.