This comes last in the manual but in your case comes first. This is because it was traditional for a very practical reason that each compositor distributed (or 'dissed') his own type, and so had to face the consequences of his own bad distribution when setting. I used to leave the students to distribute at the end, and next year's first year would complain bitterly about this; and year by year the type got more and more pied. This is the answer: you distribute last year's set type.


The first step is to break up the printed forme, assuming that you've cleaned off the ink and made it reasonably presentable. Remove the quoins, then the chase, then the furniture. Put them away. The set of grey boxes and the wooden furniture case on the wall are clearly labelled with details of what goes where. Make sure that that's where they go: there's nothing more frustrating than hunting for furniture that's not in the right compartment.

Measure each piece of furniture against the green em-ruler. Put each piece back in the appropriate compartment; similarly with the metal rules, the reglet, and everything else.

For the redistribution proper, the procedure is as follows.
1. You'll find that the type is a good deal more well-behaved and less fluid than it was before you printed from it. Take a reasonable stint and put it in a composing stick, upside down, with the slide set at a larger measure than that of the type. Bring the slide up so that the type is held snug. This is not the traditional method: the traditional method was to balance the block of type on a piece of reglet. Don't even think about doing that.

2. Go over to the case (do make sure you're going over to the right case) and, with the stick in the left hand, pick up with the thumb and forefinger of the right hand a few letters: say, a word. Read it: upside down. Then, holding the word as it were vertically, with the first letter downwards, roll the type slightly between thumb and finger until it is loosened and then, holding the type over the box where the first letter should go, separate the tips of thumb and finger such that the first letter, and only that, drop into the box. On to the next box, and repeat the process until no more type is between the fingers, at which you pick some more up and repeat the whole process. It's surprisingly easy and surprisingly quick, but don't rush it, because the resulting foul case will make life very difficult for you when you come to do composition.