I have to admit, as I was hanging a California Job Case on my office wall it was a co-worker who had to tell me what it really was. To me, it was just an antique print drawer. A bunch of wood slats arranged in a cross pattern so that you could divide different letters of letterpress type. Little did I know there was a formula to the way it is laid out. That pattern or arrangement of movable type is known as the california job case.
According to Wikipedia, this layout/design was one of “the most popular and accepted of the job case designs in America. The California Job Case took its name from the Pacific coast location of the foundries that made the case popular.
The defining characteristic of the California Job case is the layout, documented by Ringwalt as used by San Francisco printers. This modification of the Italic layout was claimed to reduce the compositor’s hand travel by more than half a mile per day. Traditionally, upper and lower case type were each kept in a separate case (or tray); this is why capital letters are called “upper case” characters while the non-capitals are “lower case”. As printers became more mobile, a combined case became preferred as it was easier to transport.” (source)
When looking over the arrangement, it’s hard to make sense of how this arrangement would work. This gentlemen – Stephen Sword from Stiff’N’Sore Press in Ontario does a great job of showing how the case works and how to really fly when typesetting.
and if that doesn’t give you your history lesson on the California job Case for the day, check this self proclaimed Old-timer out
Did you already know about the California Job case? Do you have experience using it? We would love to hear how below.