What is it?
Frankly, we’re stumped.
This device is about 12×14 inches with a handle on one side for moving it, rollers on the impression side for what appears to be positioning it on a track. The relief letters appear to be for pressing against some substrate to transfer the characters or punching into a softer material.
History of the Linotype Company
by Frank Romano released
No single machine impacted the setting of type as did the Linotype. At the time of the Civil War, typesetting was the second most common occupation in America, surpassed only by farming. Both were done primarily by hand. The Linotype machine mechanized typesetting. Outside of Gutenberg’s invention of movable type no other single machine has had the impact on printing as has the Linotype.
The definitive history of the machine, the people and the technology can be found in the 463 page History of the Linotype Company, released by Museum of Printing’s President Frank Romano. The book is available through the museum.
Copies are available at the museum on Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm. If Frank is there, he will be happy to autograph your copy.
The price is $65 for members, $75 for non-members, plus tax. If you can not make it to the museum, send a check for $93 (including tax and shipping) to the Museum at PO Box 5580, Beverly, MA 01915.
The History of the Linotype Company is 11 × 8½ inches in small coffee table orientation. It includes hundreds of photographs sourced from around the world, including ads, product brochures, maintenance manuals, Linotype’s periodicals and special publications and more, including many personal accounts, correspondence and memories of the company and typesetting. One of the 18 chapters is devoted solely to the business of typesetting over the last 140 years.
The Linotype machine was king for nearly seventy years, dethroned only by the “new” technology of phototypesetting. The Linotype Company was a strong leader in the creation and marketing of phototypesetting units and systems until that technology was replaced by personal computers, page make-up software and direct to plate and direct to press technologies.
A follow-up book, The History of Phototypesetting, by Romano will be released early this fall.
Want to see a working Linotype? Come to the museum’s Linotype Day, Saturday, September 20.
The Museum of Printing is dedicated to preserving the history of the graphic arts, printing equipment and printing craftsmanship.
In addition to many special collections and small exhibits, the Museum contains hundreds of antique printing, typesetting and bindery machines, as well as a library of books and printing related documents. A knowledgeable tour guide takes visitors around.
The Museum sits on the spacious North Andover, Massachusetts town common with free parking, only a mile from Interstate Highway 495 (see Directions).
A non-profit organization, the Museum was incorporated in 1978 as The Friends of The Museum of Printing, Inc., to save printing equipment and library materials associated with arcane technologies. The history of printing has changed dramatically during the last 200 years, moving away from letterpress printing to photographic and electronic technologies. We tell the stories of these changes using one of the world’s largest collections of printing hardware (see Collection).
The ground floor of our 25,000 sq. ft. building contains two 90-foot galleries, a large lobby, a library and access to the library’s archival stacks (four floors). The Robert L. Richter Memorial Library is named after one of the two people who began the museum effort (see Library). The second floor contains a large meeting room, offices and additional future display space.
Gallery One contains a timeline history of the manufacturing of letters. The journey starts in the foundry era, which reaches back 500 years. A guide explains the transition from hand-setting individual sorts of foundry type to mechanized hot-metal typesetting and discusses the Linotype, Monotype and Ludlow linecasting machines. Along the tour route you’ll find a Monophoto and an Intertype Fotosetter, machines which attempted to use linecasting technology to transition to phototypesetting, only to fail in competition with the electronically-driven phototypesetters. Then you’ll come upon strike-on typesetters, machines designed to produce inexpensive type which could be married to the expanding offset printing market. You’ll move on to phototypesetters, where Massachusetts hi-tech companies played a dominant role. The last chapter of this type story is digital.
Contributions to the Museum are tax deductible (the Museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization), and are always welcome.