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Miller & Richard setting stick

Miller & Richard composing stick with type set and leading.


Accession Number: SH.2009.394.2


The compositors job was to set or compose or arrange type in order for printing. In his left hand he would hold a composing stick such as the one shown above.


The composing / setting stick is a device which holds the collected type at the required width of the line. This is defined by adjusting the metal screw shown on the right of this image.


In his right hand the compositor collects the type from the galley racks and places it in the composing stick. A good compositor would pick up between two and three thousand types an hour. To undertake this job took a great deal of skill and manual dexterity. The type must be placed in the composing stick in the right order and the correct way up to ensure an error free printing.


This setting stick is on display at the Writer's Museum, Lady Stairs Close, Edinburgh


Miller & Richard were a world famous Edinburgh type foundry. The firm supplied type to print firms all over the globe. The company was established by William Miller, who had trained at Alexander Wilson’s foundry in Glasgow. In 1809 he began operations out of Reikies Court, just off Nicolson Street. It expanded to take in the surrounding buildings including a chapel, a school, a lying-in hospital and finally a street was roofed over to make a woodworking shop.

By 1825 the company was type founders for His Majesty of Scotland and when he was joined by his son-in-law Walter Richard in 1838 the firm became Miller & Richard.

Miller & Richard founded a strong reputation of typographic innovation. They were responsible for founts such as the Miller & Richard Oldstyle and its boldface, now known as Old Style or Century Oldstyle; and Antique Old Style, or Bookman.

The foundry closed in 1952, when the designs passed to the English company Stephenson Blake.


Edinburgh City of Print is a joint project between City of Edinburgh Museums and the Scottish Archive of Print and Publishing History Records (SAPPHIRE). The project aims to catalogue and make accessible the wealth of printing collections held by City of Edinburgh Museums. For more information about the project please visit

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Taken on December 17, 2009