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Agfa Monotype Corporation

The Monotype Chronicles
1884 – 1894



Tolbert Lanston

Tolbert Lanston, the inventor of the Monotype hot-metal composition system, born on 3 February at Troy in Ohio.

Ottmar Mergenthaler, inventor of the Linotype machine, born on 10 May at Hachtel in Germany.

Linn Boyd Benton of Milwaukee invented a mechanical punch-cutting device. The machine was later modified and improved upon by Frank H. Pierpont of the Monotype Corporation Ltd. Without the innovation of Benton, the realization of mechanical typesetting, with its heavy demands for multiple matrices, would have been held back.

Lanston applied for first patents relating to a system for type composition.

Blower Linotype machine, designed by Mergenthaler, installed at the New York Tribune. It was the first practical line-caster embodying some enduring technical principles, such as the circulating matrix. The Mergenthaler Printing Company was established to support the development.

United States Type Founders' Association met at Niagara to consider the systematic and regularized measurement of metal type bodies. It gave rise to the Anglo-American point system.

Patents granted to Lanston for a system composing single metal types mechanically. It consisted of a keyboard producing a perforated record of a job in a paper spool which controlled an associate machine for fashioning types from cold strips of metal with 196 matrices. Justification of text lines was by letterspacing. (US Patents 364521 to 364525 inclusive.)

Lanston Monotype Machine Company founded at Washington D.C. in the USA with J. Maury Dove as the first President. He had been introduced to Lanston as a potential source of capital by Harold Malcolm Duncan, a technical journalist and editor.

Stanley Morison born on 6 May in Wanstead, Essex.

Square-Base Model 1 Linotype, a machine that marked the beginning of the 'modern' line-caster. Also the Mergenthaler Linotype Company was formed in Brooklyn.

Linotype Company Ltd. founded in the United Kingdom.

Lanston realized that the method of fashioning and composing type by stamping out characters from cold metal strips had severe limitations. Consequently a patent application for a system based on hot-metal casting was filed and eventually granted in 1896. (US Patent 557994.)

First punch-cutting machine delivered by Benton, Waldo & Co. to the Lanston Monotype Machine Company in Washington.

First press notice of a Lanston type casting and composing system appeared in the Paper and Press trade periodical from Philadelphia. It was written by Harold M. Duncan.

British & Colonial Printer & Stationer magazine repeated the description of the 'Lanston Automatic Typesetter' that had appeared in Paper and Press of the previous year. The line drawing of the machine accompanying the text (based on a photograph in the American source) shows a sprawling device that was slow and unwieldy. Another experimental machine of the time was the 'Triangle Monotype' caster produced in 1890.

American Type Founders Company formed from the amalgamation of more than a score of independent foundries dotted around the USA. It was a protective measure against the advance of mechanical composition.

The Lanston casting machine pictured in the British & Colonial Printer & Stationer exhibited at the Columbian World Fair, along with another development for accelerating production with four die-cases and moulds and four perforated paper towers. All of these early trial machines were commercial failures.

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