Adventures in East Asia

Buy Chinese Metal Type at the Ri Xing Typography Typecasting Shop

The night before our last day in Taiwan, I was checking out Patrick Ng's excellent stationary blog and saw a post about Chinese lead types he received that were bought in Taipei. Just in time, I sought the address of the type house online and we checked it out the next day.



Ri Xing Typography was pretty easy to find (details further down). It was in a slightly intimate, industrial area of shops stocking all manner of ironmongery, tools, supplies and cosmetics and we found the type house in a large alley filled with little workshops.


I read on Patrick's blog that that Ri Xing Typography is the last type-casting shop in Taiwan and it holds the world's last complete set of Traditional Chinese letterpress copper moulds for lead type-casting.

"In order to preserve and digitize the typefaces, which consists of 3 fonts each with 7 sizes totaling 200,000 lead types, a group of cultural enthusiastic in Taiwan devised a restoration/preservation project which was openly supported by Taiwan President Ma in end June this year."


Visiting Ri Xing Typography

Being a print house, Linh and I were a little apprehensive about walking in off the street, but the owner's wife and a printer who were manning the ground floor (there was another level in the basement), were very friendly although only spoke mandarin. Linh was able to converse a little and they let us walk around the type-filled aisles to take photos.


Irrespective of working in design for a decade, I've never set foot in a type shop before, let alone one filled with Chinese type! It was pretty raw to walk amongst the thousands of different sized fonts and examine some greasy presses, all under stark neon lighting.




We were also able to look in the basement which was where the owner, Mr. Cheung, was working away on a letterform (on computer). The lower room seemed to be their office and contained stacks of metal type and a few desks and shelves displaying an assortment of stationary, machines, toys and interesting junk.





Buying Chinese Metal Type

Linh and I were keen to get some Chinese metal type for ourselves and checking whether we could buy any, were happy to find out we could and that it wasn't very expensive. I think it was something like NT$40 (75p) each piece.


With our limited written Chinese, we got our names in Chinese type as I could only present my business card to show them my Chinese name on it, whilst Linh wrote hers out. In fact, I ended up getting three font sizes.


The owner Mr. Cheung hopes to transform his shop into a printing museum. Getting our names from Ri Xing's collection of metal type could end up as pieces of history as well as being a unique and personal souvenir that I as a designer especially appreciated.

Getting to Ri Xing Typography

If you're interested in checking Ri Xing Typography out, getting to it is very straightforward. The nearest MRT station is Zhongshan, just one stop away from the central Taipei Main Station.

The address is translated as "Lane 97, Taipei Taiyuan Road on the 13th" and the shops location can be seen on this link: Ri Xing Typography on Google Maps

After you check the Google Maps link above, just make sure you exit the station to walk along Nanjing West Road towards Taiyuan Road. When you get to the junction, you'll just need to walk down Taiyuan Road on the left-hand side before coming across the road-side posted Lane 97.

Lane 97 is an alley wide enough for cars and bikes and is lined with numbered workshops. Ri Xing Typography is simply number 13.

Ri Xing Typography opening hours are:
Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays: 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Saturday: 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

More on the (Chinese) Ri Xing Typography blog site or check out the Ri Xing Typography blog site translated by Google.

I have more photos on the Ri Xing Typography Typecasting Shop Flickr set but you might want to check out Ri Xing's own Flickr set which has better photos!

After we left, we dropped into this cosmetics trade supply store where Linh picked up a few items and I ended up buying a few miniature medicine bottles. No idea what I'll use them for yet!


This entry posted in : History. Shopping. Taiwan.

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