Mechanizing punch punching.

Were punches always driven into matrices with a hammer? It seems like at some point someone would have built a press for driving a punch straight in and to a set depth, but I’ve never read anything about that. 


  • kupferskupfers Posts: 246
    Yes, there were presses. Dan Rhatigan tweeted a photo of one a while back.
  • Yes, Monotype used machines of various sizes (depending on the size of the punches and matrices) to press their machine-cut punches into brass matrices. Here's a picture of a big one, used for display matrices (I believe):

  • I’m travelling at the moment, hence I have no access to my library, but IIRC Harry Carter shows in Fournier on Typefounding in an annotation a small press that was used to drive punches into matrices.

  • The machine shown in the picture uploaded by Dan is of a kind that would have been used only by the machine casting companies—Monotype, Ludlow, Linotype—not by the type foundries, which, beginning in the late 1840s, did away with cutting punches for large types, cutting them instead in soft metal and making matrices by electrotyping. The foundries only needed one matrix, maybe more for the most popular types, because they were selling cast type, whereas the machine casting companies were in the business of selling matrices. (Electrotyping matrices does not lend itself to mass production.) The device referred to by Harry Carter, as mentioned by Frank, provided a way of controlling the strike to minimize wear on the punches and save time for the justifier. I wonder if such a machine survives (it would be easy to mistake it for something else).

    De Vinne says that the first foundry to adopt the electrotyping of soft metal punches (which some founders referred to as "patrices") was the New York City foundry of James Conner. Their first provider was a certain Edwin Starr, of Philadelphia, in 1845. (See The Practice of Typography: Plain Printing Types, p.18. n. 1). Electrotyping was one of those technologies that was being worked on simultaneously by a number of inventors in different parts of the world, unbeknownst to each other. Electrotyping led to widespread thievery of typefaces, which is why it's so difficult to determine who originated certain types. (Don't believe Nicolete Gray, who insisted on always giving credit to the Brits—ha!)

  • If one looks at the precise positioning of the glyphs in for instance the raw and justified matrices of Granjon’s Ascendonica cursive, then it’s tempting to consider that the device Carter shows was already used during the Renaissance.

  • Wonderful stuff! Thanks for sharing.
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