University of Kentucky



About Typecases     Photograph of typecase

Type is stored in what are called cases – trays or drawers, usually of wood, divided into compartments. Traditionally, in English-speaking countries, type was set from a pair of cases – an upper case containing capital letters, figures, and other less-used characters and a lower case containing miniscules, points (punctuation), and spacing. An early nineteenth century innovation was the double or job case that contained the most used type from both cases. At the King Library Press we generally work from California job cases of a late nineteenth or early twentieth century design from the Hamilton Manufacturing Company measuring about 81.5 cm x 42 cm. (A full case of 14 point type weighs about 19 kg.) Most use the same lay, or arrangement, but cases for American Uncial are a little different. Some faces also have special cases for sorts. Learning the lay of the case is a little like learning touch typing.

· The California Typecase, Lewis A. Pryor, 1999
· Origin of the California Job Case, Fred Williams, 1992
· Type Cases, David Bolton, 1997

Caslon typecase lay     American Uncial typecase lay
The lay used for Caslon and most other faces at the King Library Press [PDF Version] and that used for American Uncial [PDF Version].

Type cases on frame
The Upper Case and Lower Case supported by the Frame. From Mechanick Exercises: Or, the Doctrine of Handy-works Applied to the Art of Printing, Joseph Moxon, London, 1683.