About M & H Type

A printer and Monotype operator by trade, George W. Mackenzie came to San Francisco from Massachusetts to demonstrate Monotype equipment at the Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915. After the fair, he established a trade type composition plant, the Monotype Composition Company, at 433 Sacramento Street, the first in San Francisco to employ Monotype. During its first decade, the company produced primarily tabular work such as rate books and railroad tariff lists.

In 1924, Mackenzie partnered with Carroll T. Harris, incorporating the business as Mackenzie & Harris and opening a location at 659 Folsom Street. Harris believed that the Monotype system was capable of higher quality work, and the company began providing type for advertising and the West Coast fine-printing community. The fame of Mackenzie & Harris spread; soon printers across the continent were taking advantage of their quality workmanship and extensive inventory of typefaces.

Harris became acquainted with type designers, typographers, printers, and bookbinders all over America and Europe. He provided much of the type for the great San Francisco printers of the day: John Henry Nash, Taylor & Taylor, Lawton Kennedy, and the Grabhorn brothers--the two printers who later became the namesake of the Grabhorn Institute. Anticipating the needs of these customers, Harris began to collect the wide range of typefaces, including those with accented matrices in Romance and Germanic languages, that are housed at the Grabhorn Institute today. Harris was the first to bring to the United States the matrices for Bruce Rogers’ Centaur and Frederick Warde’s Arrighi, as well as the recut version of seventeenth-century Van Dijck. He established a close relationship with Frederic Goudy, America’s most prolific type designer.

When George Mackenzie died in 1944, Harris purchased his shares in the company. Throughout his stewardship of the type foundry, Harris added to its collection of typefaces, acquiring the full range of matrices for Adrian Frutiger’s Univers sans serif type as late as 1963. Harris retired shortly before his death in 1975. For over fifty years he served the world of the book arts by maintaining the high standards he had set for his firm.

In 1975, Mackenzie & Harris was acquired by Othmar Peters, who added computer typesetting to the services offered by the company. The foundry continued to operate, albeit in a diminished capacity, and moved to a new location, 460 Bryant Street. In 1988 Peters sold the foundry to Chang Park, a midwestern businessman who was not interested in the hot-metal division. It appeared that the foundry might not survive the rapidly changing technology of the late twentieth century.

Then, in 1989, Andrew Hoyem, director of the Arion Press, bought the company, retained the experienced staff of craftsmen and renamed the operation M & H Type. M & H survived, and continues to cast type for Arion editions and a broad array of letterpress customers across the globe from their current location at 1802 Hays Street in the Presidio.

Apprenticeships

M & H Type, in conjunction with the nonprofit Grabhorn Institute, offers apprenticeships in typecasting. Please click here to learn about the apprenticeship program and to view open positions.