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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 2

Electrotype Matrices

page 22

Electrotype Matrices.

The article on this subject, contributed by Mr Carl Schraubstadter, jun., to the Inland Printer, and republished in Typo last October, has evoked the following reply from Mr James M. Conner, in the Typographic Messenger:

Mr Schraubstadter's article is misleading in several important particulars. But little reference is made to the piratical custom of many founders in using this process to copy original designs cut in steel, and it endeavors to convey that all electro-matrices made at the present time are from type cut in metal. Also an attempt is made to convince the reader that the productions of the letter-cutters are far superior to anything before done in steel, a refutation of which is found in a perusal of the specimen-books of the older foundries. Nearly all our borders have been out in steel, as were also most of the leading scripts, Payson Penman and Boston having never been equalled by anything done in metal. In our opinion, the writer of the article will live many years before letters cut in metal supersede them.

We have reproduced the matrices as shewn in the Inland Printer,
Fig. 3.

Fig. 3.

and call our readers' attention to Nos. 3 and 4, made of two pieces of brass held together with rivets, which, at times, will part, the back piece rising up; the force with which the metal is driven into matrix A, fig. 3, will expand the sides on the front piece of brass, and if the top is narrow, on large letters, force the brass up, causing the type cast from such a matrix to deviate in line, standing, and thickness. The face will often pull up, making a difference in height, no matter how carefully made. It will be noticed that the square in which A stands is copper, the surrounding parts brass, and how little the force of metal required, if any quantity is cast, to bulge out the sides of
Fig. 4.

Fig. 4.

the matrix. Types cast from matrices made from another founder's productions are always inferior to the originals, among other disadvantages having no shoulder on their sides, to all of which reference is made in our article on « Electro-Matrix Typefounding, » and we challenge any founder to refute it.

The exhibit here shewn1 we think is sufficient to convince anyone of the superiority of solid copper matrices obtained through the agency of a steel punch, and are not the miserable makeshifts so extensively utilized by these copyists.

The writer also states that in the larger sizes the tendency of the matrix struck from a steel punch is toward hollowness of the face. The electro-matrix has the same fault, the battery for depositing the copper not always working the same, causing defects in the backing, and with all the care of these copyists, their matrices are as a rule not uniform.

Another statement which we are positive he cannot substantiate, is that the electro-matrix exceeds the solid copper as seven or eight to one. If the writer had stated that in at least twelve of the type foundries in this country the proportion of electro-matrices is as nine to one he would have been more correct, as nearly all their faces, both newspaper and job type, are made from electro-matrices, having pirated the larger part of them from the older foundries.

Had the electro-matrix never been made, type-founding would, beyond a doubt, have been just as far advanced as it is at the present day; steel letter cutters would have increased in numbers, and judging from that which has been accomplished, produced anything required, and with far superior finish and acccuracy. We are indebted in no small degree to the improved and perfected type casting machine for the beauty and symmetry of the type now manufactured, for without it all the cutting in the world, on steel or metal, would be of no avail.

In conclusion, we question very much if Mr. Edwin Starr, with whom we labored over thirty years ago, would consider it an honor to have originated the present system of electrotype matrices, as to our knowledge he looked upon it as a matter of dollars and cents, and precious little he received from many of these founders. To the late John M. Wehrly must be given the credit of having first cut type in metal in this country, and he had no superior. The double great primer Rimmed Shade, and many of the Penman scripts, cut in steel, attest his superiority as a cutter.

1 [Here are inserted engravings of a steel punch and copper matrix—the latter so represented, by erroneous shading, that the letter, instead of being sunk in the metal, stands out in high relief! Correct representations of the punch and matrix may be found in DeVinne's Invention of Printing, chap. iii, MacKellar's American Printer, chap. i, Caslon's Circular, No. 5, and many other books on the art.]