The German coat of arms for a type-founders' guild (or "Schriftgießer" in German)
A type foundry is a company that designs or distributes typefaces. Before desktop publishing, type foundries manufactured and sold metal and wood typefaces and matrices for line-casting machines like the Linotype and Monotype machines designed to be used with letterpress printers. Today's digital type foundries accumulate and distribute typefaces (typically as digitized fonts) created by type designers, who may either be freelancers operating their own independent foundry, or employed by another foundry. Type foundries may also provide custom type design services.
In England, type foundries began in 1476, when William Caxton introduced the printing press. Thereafter the City of London became a major centre for the industry, until the end of the 20th century when famous metal-based printing districts such as Fleet Street came to the close of their era. The industry was particularly important in Victorian times, when education became available to all due to the new school boards, and firms such as Charles Reed & Sons, the printer and type founders were in their heyday. The St Bride Printing Library in the City of London encourages wider public interest in the history of type founding for the printed book and newspaper.