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Type Founders of Chicago (or: Castcraft)

Foundry, est. Chicago in 1936. It moved from Hubbard Street in Chicago to a suburb after a few decades---to Skokie and/or Niles. The name changed to Castcraft [3649 W Chase Ave Skokie, IL 60026], and then to Castcraft Software Inc. It owned a comprehensive library of fonts, all with extended character sets for multi-language typography. OptiFont is a trademark filed in 1990 by Fredric J. Kreiter of Castcraft. Castcraft sold a CD-ROM Type Library Volume 1 at 200 USD. Its entire font collection was sold for 1000 USD. It also made some custom fonts. Most post-1990 fonts have the prefix OPTI. For example, OPTI-Peking is an oriental simulation font. OPTI-Favrile is a copy of Tom Carnase's Favrile (WTC).

A visitor warned me that there is absolutely zero security when you order from this outfit, so you are warned--this is a dangerous site! It seems that Manny Kreiter (d. 2005) was the last President&CEO, and that his family (Abe, Harry and Ned Kreiter) have been at it since the days of metal type (1936) starting as Type Founders of Chicago. I found this on their pages: Castcraft has licensing [sic] the entire 20,000 TypeFaces from "Type Films of Chicago" and the entire "Solotype Alphabets" collection. Mike Yanega claims that most of their fonts are clearly not original any more than most of Bitstream's are original, and like them they re-name many of their fonts to avoid copyright issues. Their fonts all appear to be a 'dead collection' of copies of relatively old designs that have already appeared in many other collections from the likes of WSI and SSi.

In 2010, John Brandt reports: Castcraft, aka Type Founders of Chicago, moved decades ago from Hubbard St in Chicago to a close-in suburb (Skokie? Niles?) and was still operating within the past few years when I happened to drive by. I failed to find any current incarnation, but they used several names even years ago as a prominent pirate. Besides pirated fonts (Typositor to later, generally poor digital), they were a big metal vendor (I have a partial metal set of Helvetica gifted as they left downtown in the 1970s), and also had a guy (whose name escapes me) who did fabulous high-end signage, from sand-blasted glass to the created-on-building inscribed metal logo for a well-known Michigan Ave mall. Longtime owner Manny Kreiter died in 2005, but whether Boomie or any of the others who may still be around kept it going is unknown. Aside from simply having ANY version of their many offerings, most would consider their collection worthless. Anyone who has a digital "OPTIfont" and a font editor can readily view the problems, including usually several times too many Bezier points within any character. I counted 78 control points on a minimal character, for instance, that should have had less than a dozen.

Listing of Castcraft fonts (compiled by myself). The 802 fonts listed here are all dated between 1990 and 1994. I know there are at least 1,000 digital fonts made by them, so my list is incomplete.

Typophile discussion of Castcraft. OPTI Castcraft equivalence list by Philippedada [last update May 2012].

Some download links: i, ii. A revival includes Dick Pape's free font Bon Aire (2011), which revives Castcraft's Bon Aire.

OPTI Fonts Archive. List of equivalences of Castcraft names. List of Castcraft typefaces as of July 2014.

Type Founders of Chicago (or: Castcraft)
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Extinct 20th century foundries ⦿ Type scene in Illinois ⦿ Dan X. Solo ⦿ Brush script typefaces ⦿ Dick Pape's typefaces ⦿

file name: Barco Bon Aire

file name: Castcraft Opti Swallow 1990 1991 after Spencerian Script

file name: Castcraft Opti Sybaris 1990 1991 after U R W Symphony Pro

file name: Castcraft Opti Sybaris 1990 1991 after U R W Symphony Pro

file name: Castcraft Opti Sin 1990 1991

file name: Castcraft Opti Syracuse 1990 1991 after Filmotype

file name: Castcraft Opti Syracuse 1990 1991 after Filmotype

file name: Castcraft Opti Syracuse 1990 1991 after Filmotype

Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html