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With thanks to both Bi Sheng and Johannes Gutenberg, we were blessed with finally being able to distribute knowledge on a worldwide scale. Typesetting, the definition of forming words that can be reproduced over and over again, had its next renaissance with Ottmar Mergenthaler and his incredible Linotype.

Alois Senefelder
Ottmar Mergenthaler

In 1884, Mergenthaler, a German who had moved to America, invented what would go on to become the key invention and technology well into the late 1960s.

One year after Mergenthaler, in 1885, American Tolbert Lanston patented his Monotype, which also gained favor on both sides of the Atlantic.

Finally, the 3rd member of the triumvirate, Intertype, began production of a device very similar to the Linotype, in 1911. These 3 companies formed the basis for hot metal type composing and assembly. All three were developed in America.
Wood type for large font sizes was also a necessary tool for the printer. Original wood type was made from solid wood. J. Edward Hamilton started his J.E. Hamilton Holly Wood Type Co. in 1880. From Two Rivers, Wisconsin, Hamilton went on to become the largest manufacturer of wood type as well as composing stones, cabinets and drawers for the printing industry.

Throughout America and Europe, hundreds of foundries popped up - some legendary even today. Out of these, came an explosion of new type designs. The once mammoth American Type Founders (ATF) was actually a result of consolidation amongst foundries in places like Cincinnati, Chicago, New York and St. Louis.

Type, whether cast as a line or individual letters, was a huge business. Designs were mostly proprietary which led to constant new designs. Once phototypesetting came into its own in the early 1970s, the once mighty type foundry and machinery builders lost their monopoly and have virtually vanished.

hiw-hamilton type cabinet


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