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Rixing Type Foundry is the Chinese typographic gem we should know


ossibly home to the last remaining collection of traditional Chinese movable type character molds in the world, Rixing Type Foundry "possesses 120,000 molds of different characters in a wide range of sizes and three different typefaces kai ti (楷體) (regular script), song ti (宋體) and hei ti (黑體) (sans-serif black) — and has more than 10 million lead character pieces for printing or sale".

Tucked into Taipei’s Taiyuan Road, the printing foundry is home to the last remaining collection of traditional Chinese movable type character moulds our world has to offer with techniques that have been recognised since the Song Dynasty in 1040s.

Chang Chieh-kuan, the owner of Taiwan’s last Chinese letterpress is also one of the last remaining lead-character makers in the world. 

Having inherited this foundry from the founder, his father, back in 1969, Chang is on a double mission. To save his legacy and, most importantly, to preserve the endangered cultural asset of Chinese letterpress printing against the advent of new technology and the digital evolution. For Chang this technique has to be preserved. 

Back in the roaming 60s, Taipei alone was home to 5,000 printing presses. Almost half a century later only 30 establishments remain with Rixing being the last print foundry in the capital.

Rixing has one of the largest collections of three-dimensional Chinese characters in Taiwan, with 120,000 molds of different characters and more than 10 million lead character pieces. Here there are more than 10,000 characters in each size that are still in use with the oldest set of type having been preserved for more than 100 years.

Chang and his team are also working hard to digitalize 150,000 characters to help perfect their lead-type version in this type foundry which is a stunning reference library of Chinese typefaces, a shop and literally an interactive craft museum which preserves the history of the movable lead type.

Earlier this year Rixing "launched a type bronze mold restoration project in the hope that an online fundraising program would help raise the funds needed to preserve its endangered bronze molds so that they can be passed on in their entirety" reports The Taipei Times.

“We want not only to preserve lead type, but also an era,” Chang said in a post on the project’s Web site at “The ideal situation would be for people to express their support for the preservation of this culture through their everyday life choices,” he said.

Keep the letterpress tradition alive here

Images via Rixing Type Foundry