Type Casting by Hand and by Machine

Today nearly all type is set photographically, electronically, or by a combination of both. The casting of type by hand done in earlier times involved several steps. The type cutter carved a raised letter, in reverse, on the head of a small bar of steel called a punch. He used a counterpunch to cut out the opening, or counter, of a letter such as o. Then the punch was hardened in fire and forced into a bar of copper. The impression it made became the matrix, or die, for the type. It was placed at the bottom of a mold that the caster filled with molten metal.

The invention of the pantographic punch cutter by Linn Boyd Benton in 1885 changed this process. As the operator of this machine traced a brass pattern of a letter with one arm of the device, a cutting tool on another arm engraved the letter on the punch in a reduced size. It could be adjusted to cut a complete series of sizes from one set of patterns.

The pantographic punch cutter made possible the manufacture of composing machines, which demanded an immense supply of matrices. Linotype and Intertype machines assembled matrices and cast a line of type called a slug. The line was justified, or spaced out to an exact width, so that the right-hand edges were even. The Monotype cast single types. The Ludlow cast lines from matrices assembled by hand. Letterpress printing took place directly from these types or from an electrotype or stereotype that was molded from them.

Sizes of Type - Measuring Width - Fonts Type Casting by Hand and by Machine

Invention and Spread of Type and Printing First Designs for Roman and Italic Types

Old-Style Types by Garamond and Caslon - Bodoni Originates Modern Types

Trends in the 19th and 20th Centuries - Inexpensive Fonts