Type casting and type setting

Raymond has asked me to write a bit about type casting, and I have agreed. This will be about only one aspect and one machine.

The first practical and fully functioning type setting/casting machine was the Lanston Monotype machine. You could keyboard words and lines on a keyboard machine and then cast the type automatically on the caster.

This kind of machine was called a composition caster and was just one of many Monotype machines that were built.

This was the most complicated machine in the composing room and pretty much the most complicated machine in any printing shop period.


Monotype, type setting, composition caster, type setting
Creative Commons License. Photo credit to Softeis im Deutschen Museum

The machine needed; Electricity and if gas was used to melt the metal, it also needed a source of gas, either natural gas or bottled gas. It then needed compressed air to drive the casting mechanism. And it needed a water line to cool the mold and of course a drain to take away the heated water from the casting mold.

The machine also needed a long course of teaching to learn how to run the machine. It needed a further course of six weeks to learn how to repair and adjust the machine.

Mostly these machines were installed in larger shops and used for book work and sometimes newspaper work. These cellular machines were very complicated compared to the Linotype or Intertype, but they did work and were marketed way before Ottmar developed a good working Linotype.

The Monotype cellular machine would do some things wonderfully well and in the hand of expert operators were just a joy to behold and to own.

To the best of my knowledge there were only three such cellular machines here in Saskatchewan and they all ran till the original operators either retired or technology changed to the point of where they were no longer viable.

I still have some Monotype books and catalogues in my possession, but it was not really my field, so I did not pay nearly as much attention as I possibly should have.

A very nice history was written about Monotype. I have a copy of this book and fully intend to read this book one day.

Phil Ambrosi, January 31, 2015


Type casting and type setting

Updated on 2015-05-31T12:21:27-06:00, by Ramb.