|Los Angeles TYPE Founders, Inc.
Los Angeles Type Founders, Inc.
LA Type has been closed for over fifteen years. If you are looking for
foundry type,or printing supplies for Letterpress Printing, Foil
Stamping, Hot Stamping, Imprinting, monogramming, or require
monotype composition, ding bats, ornaments, strip material, spacing
materials, or Ludlow typesetting.......
we can provide it for you
Bell Type & Rule Co.
Did you know Harley Bell made pick up and deliveries to LA Type on his
tricycle as a child. Bell Type and LA Type worked together behind the scenes
over the years. One of our in house jokes is that we would drive over to LA
Type and then walk back to Bell Type and ooopppsss we left the truck over at
LA Type again.
We were so very fortunate to have Don Winter come help us out in our shop
after the closing of LA Type. We have posted some history about LA Type that
Don Winter has personally told us. Some is first hand knowledge from Harley
and myself. Also we show some fine excerpts form John W. Fleischman's 1977
article. We are looking for more photos and materials about LA Type to post
so keep checking back to see more interesting history of Los Angeles Type
In a hot metal operation, it takes someone with a certain flair to put together a big display ad. Take
one of those supermarket adds. You have got may be six different typefaces in as many sizes. They
all have to be leaded right and spaced out with thin spaces or the form won't lock up in the chase.
Throw in a bunch of little engravings of pork chops and nylon stockings plus the brand name logos,
add a halftone block of a roast turkey and a fancy border around the coupons and you've got a job on
your hands. But it's work that shows what you can do. Harley Bell of Bell Type and Rule and Don
Winter and Bill Neelans (Whilley) of Los Angeles Type Founders always showed what they could do in
Hot metal type. Three Pros. I have been honored to have been taught by these pros. And today I
strive to be a artisan in hot metal type like them.
Los Angeles Type Founders started in 1937. Bill Neelans came to LA Type in 1937 along with another
young apprentice named Don Winter. It was the depression and the two apprentices were glad for the
chance to learn every machine in the shop. Don noted "you figured the more you learned, the better
chance you had of holding a job." The pay was $2 a day. Working a Monday through Saturday week,
you could earn $12. Coffee cost a nickel a cup at the time. Even at those wages, the two apprentices
were more than LA Type could afford. So Neelans was let go and went to work for a small job printer
until the war. When he came back from the service in 1945, LA Type had grown. Neelans was hired on
with a year's credit towards his journeyman's ITU (International Typographers Union) union card. In
1977 some thirty two years later he was still working the same monotype casters. He would come out
to visit when you came by and leave his caster running all the while the type would be falling off the rail
into a can...clink, clink, clink... To this day at Bell Type, when the type fall into the can we yell
Whilley! and someone goes over and turns off the machine. Neelans, worked two jobs at first, his
second job was making pizza in the evenings. Harley Bell worked all day at his fathers shop Bell
Type, and at night worked at L A Type running any of the machines.
Los Angeles Type Founders was on East Pico Blvd. near the center of the light manufacturing district
which surrounded downtown. It is the old Los Angeles business district. The big wholesale fruit,
produce markets are just over on San Pedro at Central & Olympic near Bell Type. The garment
industry is everywhere. Machine shops, industrial equipment dealers, union halls, specialty
manufacturers and of course printers have now all left Los Angeles. A shop starts up, runs, goes
bankrupt. The machines are sold and Someone else moves in and the cycle continues.
Don Winter hung on throught the early days. He saw the company expand, bringing in more
journeymen, more Monotype casters and keyboards. After 1941 the type business got bigger. Don
remembers that there didn't seem any way you could miss in typesetting. LA Type was primarily a
type foundry. At that time a printer could come into the shop, open a drawer of type, and set their job
out of the case and pay by the pound for the type. Harley remembers it was so busy at LA Type that
they could not keep the type drawers full for the customers. In fact, he remembers fonts being opened
on a type bank so people could pick out the letters they needed. The bank became overloaded with
opened fonts. In any ones recollection, the residue of the fonts was remelted and made again into type.
LA Type was pressed into straight composition work during the war, getting all the techinical manuals
supplied to UUL by Cal Tech to explain the new sophisticated weapons. Winters enlisted in the Navy
during the war and when he came back LA Type was getting out of composition to keep up with their
main business of supplying type fonts to other printers. It was the start of the great printing
explosion. For the next 20 years, LA Type catered to that wild hunger for printing. LA Type
purchased two new Linotypes at a cost of $70,000.00 each to stay competitive and they were. Harry
was one of the linotype operator and he thought he was quite the ladies man. Well one day he was
out front of LA Type and said something off color to a woman walking by and she took out after him
and grabbed a broom and chased him through the shop. He got away, and later sheepishly walked
out and asked "is she gone". For the record this did not stop him.
In the '60s a new method of printing called offset lithography tied to photo composition hit the trade.
Despite some efforts to sell the new style equipment, hot metal was left behind. It very nearly killed
the company. LA Type Founders survived as one of the last three type foundries on the West Coast
(1977). In the glory years at LA Type Don was managing 32 employees, running three shifts around
the clock and they were making 100,00 pounds of type a year.
The coming of Linotypes was supposed to wipe out movable type but it didn't. Line casting and letter
casting were compatible and complementary approaches to the same process. To this day Hand
Setting small amounts of movable type is efficient, practical and effective!
Monotype machines are the heart of a type foundry. Monotypes can do straight composition or just
cast whole fonts for printers to use in job work. Monotype work is sharper than Linotype because he
casting was more precise and the drive of the mate deeper. Let the newspapers and other
"blacksmith shops who just slapped the products together stick to their slug casters.
The Monotypers specialize in book and other fine work".
Sadly, LA Type Closed in the 1990s and Whilley is only with us in spirit and is remembered when the
type fall into the can. Don is doing great. He has always been an excellent fisherman, taking his row
boat! - out into Long Beach harbor in the midst of the huge oil vessels and fishing fleets. He is a great
bowler and enjoys dancing with his wife every week. And if that is not enough, he is busy helping
Thanks Don for being a great friend over the years... Harley and David
Harley is busy making type at Bell Type every day and helping with his grandchildren on the weekend.
One could not ask for a better human being..... Thanks Harley (Dad) ..... David
|If you are looking for Type,
Spaces, Leads and Slugs,
Monotype Comp. or the like
contact us at Bell Type through the
link below and he can help you out.
|Remelting metal and making Pigs
L A Type Founders
|BELL TYPE & RULE COMPANY
Hot Foil Stamping Type Machines Supplies
Letterpress Printers Type Letterpress Printing
|Copyright 2009 - 2020 David Helbock All rights reserved.