Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Wayback View – Rust in Peace

Just 7km/4.5 miles south of the city of Duncan and 53km/33 miles north of Victoria on Vancouver Island is Whippletree Junction - a grouping of specialty shops and restaurants set within 14 restored buildings from the early 1900s.Behind one of those buildings are the rusting remains of a typographic classic. It's an Intertype hot metal typesetting machine, most likely the very popular model C.
In 1911, New York newspaperman Hermann Ridder collected $4,000,000 in capital and organized the International Typesetting Machine Company. Several Linotype engineers joined the effort since it is believed that some Linotype people were disgruntled and felt they could produce a better machine. Since the early years, Intertype boasted a simpler design with fewer, but more standardized, parts than the Linotype. In fact, it was advertised that any standard Intertype part would fit any standard Intertype machine regardless of its age.

By late 1912, the company expanded their operating space to 80,000 square feet and employed in the neighborhood of 750 persons. The first machine was installed for a price of $2150 at the New York Journal of Commerce.
An Intertype ad from 1913

Intertype machines were so well engineered that they are still in productive use today as this one in Holland demonstrates.

Click play arrow (and maybe wiggle the play head), to view the video.

They are mainly used to produce people's names on slugs which are then used to personalise pencils, pencil cases, bookmarks, etc. with gold blocking.

In the UK, Express Gifts, part of Findel PLC, also uses Intertype C4s to produce slugs of people's names to manufacture personalised gift items. However these are computer driven by Decitek Floppy Disk Drives operating a Fairchild Teletypesetting unit.

Click play arrow (and maybe wiggle the play head), to view the video.

For more information regarding the early days of typesetting please visit "Metal Type" by clicking HERE

Special thanks go out to Trevor Bruckshaw for his help with research for this post.

1 comment:

  1. remember these when I was a letterpress apprentice. Ah the good old days