In mid-19th century Europe and also the Netherlands, the demand for printing Chinese was growing. At Leiden University, Professor Hoffmann started the education of Chinese translation for the Dutch Indies. The Dutch government financed the development of the Chinese printing types. After several experiments, 5,000 lead types previously used to print the Bible were finally chosen to be bought from Hong Kong. These types provided a model to galvanically produce matrices by Nicolaas Tetterode, founder of Typefoundry Amsterdam. Another 4,000 types were designed, carved and produced in close cooperation between Professor Hoffmann and Tetterode in the period of 1860 to 1873. Three specimen books were printed.
The types were cast up until 1909 and used for printing up until 1964 particularly by Brill Publishing. They were also used by the government printing office in Dutch Indies. They were also sold to Holtzhausen printing in Vienna.
When Brill Publishing established an office in Singapore in 2016 and later in Beijing, the question of what happened with the collection of chinese matrices was raised. The chairman of the Museum Typefoundry Westzaan started a search which appeared to be an adventurous travel in the history based on fragmented archives and sometimes erroneous memories. Finally after three years, the state-owned collection of the matrices was discovered. During the search, many archives were used and particularities about the production process became clear.
Unfortunately, the two sets of lead types last seen in 1981 seem to have disappeared. But after some experiments, the Typefoundry Westzaan succeeded in casting the 19th-century Chinese types with historical matrices using their Monotype Supercaster and an adapted matrix holder.