HOT METAL TYPE, of course. Lead Graffiti is incredibly fortunate to have invested in the purchase of an Intertype C4 linecaster. This engineering marvel adds significantly to the historical value of our collection, as well as allowing us to offer a first-hand experience with hot metal type for participants in some of our workshops. The photo above was taken by Craig Cutler during a 2-day photoshoot at Lead Graffiti on "The Lost Arts."
How a Linotype / Intertype works
The link below is for a 33-minute film that looks like it was made in the 1940s. It shows a detailed process of how a hot metal type casting machine works.
Last day of the Linotype at the New York Times
July 2, 1978, was the day the New York Times switched from setting type for the newspaper from hot type using 140 Linotype machines to cold type using computers. The link below is for a 28-minute film that pays homage to the Linotype heritage at this major newspaper.
WE OFFICIALLY STARTED Lead Graffiti in our Sandy Drive studio in February 2008. The size of the space we rented was 2,200 square feet when we were looking for 1,000. With a lot more room to spread out, Ray started to consider the opportunity to add some kind of hot metal experience.
Three options were under consideration :
- Monotype which casts individual characters,
- Linotype or Intertype which casts full lines of type, and
- Ludlow which also casts lines of type up to 72 points fairly easily.
Having seen a Monotype in action at Alembic Press in England, we initially wanted a Monotype. But the feasibility of having a reasonably large collection of the type molds and the enormous quantity of necessary support equipment was daunting. Then there was the question of original classic Merganthaler Linotype versus the later Intertype : what were the pros and cons to consider? Given the kind of letterpress work we wanted to do, how useful would a Ludlow be?
As a contributor on LetPress, an online discussion group, Ray wrote a note about his quest for a hot metal option. Scott Wilson, a bookshop owner in Portland, Maine, from whom we had bought our Washington #5 iron handpress a year earlier, quickly wrote back with an offer. He reminded us that we had seen his Intertype at his shop.
Scott's offer was that we could have the Intertype for free, but if we wanted the matrices (the type molds), we would have to pay for them. We agreed on $5,500 for the brass matrices, which consisted of about 200 fonts in about 50 magazines, and another 100 galleys of molds. For the uninitiated, each single brass mold typically holds 1 typeface in 2 versions, such as Regular / Italic, Regular / Bold, or sometimes two completely different faces. The Intertype linecaster alone weighs about 3,500 pounds, and a magazine full of brass matrices can weigh 75 pounds or more.
ABOVE : The Intertype magazines pulled out and ready for loading. A full one weighs around 80 pounds.
We rented a truck with a lift gate, and Ray, and son Tray, drove up in an ice storm and took ownership on December 12, 2008. Its serial number is 26,476 and it initially shipped in late 1956.
ABOVE : The moment before seeing if the truck's liftgate would actually rise to the occasion. It did, but only after we added a little extra support thanks to the car jack we brought along just in case.
Watching this machine in operation is an outstanding experience. With something like 4,000 parts, the Intertype has huge cams that move various pieces in perfect synchronicity so they can contribute their small action to the whole intricate process. It's thrilling to sit at the keyboard and type in your text, then pull the lever to set the whole caster in motion : the melting pot of 535° molten type metal tilts forward, a plunger injects the liquid metal into the brass molds, and shiny slugs with their raised type clink into the receiving tray, while the brass molds clatter back into position ready for the next keypress. If you get the opportunity to come by Lead Graffiti and see the Intertype in action, you will truly be amazed. As we tend to use this in spurts, you might drop us an email to see when we will be running it.
As the final item in this blog post, we'd like to record the inventory. Following is a fairly thorough list of the Intertype fonts Scott had collected toward his interest in printing books of poetry. A listing like “Baskerville / Bold” means both the regular and the bold versions of Baskerville are available in the same set of mats. An ongoing and lengthy project is to cast and pull specimen proofs of all these typefaces for reference. Want to help for a couple of hours?
- Aldus — 12 point
- Baskerville / Bold — 10 point
- Baskerville / Italic — 8, 9, 11, 12 point
- Baskerville / Italic (SPLIT) — 14 point S
- Baskerville Bold / Italic — 8, 10, 12, 14 point
- Bernhard Fashion w / Park Avenue — 12, 14 point
- Bodoni Bold / Italic — 12 point
- Bodoni Bold Cond / Franklin Gothic — 18 point
- Bodoni Book / Italic — 10 point
- Bodoni Poster / Italic — 12, 14 point
- Caslon / Italic — 10, 12, 24 point
- Caslon 236 Old Face — 10, 12 point
- Century / Bold — 10, 14 point
- Century Bold / Italic — 14 point
- Century Expanded — 14 point
- Century Expanded / Bold — 8, 10 point
- Century Medium / Bold — 5.5 point
- Cheltenham / ? — 18 point
- Copperplate Lining Gothic / Roman — 6 point
- Egmont Medium / Italic — 14 point
- Egmont Medium Italic Only — 18 point
- Fairfield — 9 point
- Futura Book / Demi Bold — 6, 8, 10 point
- Garamond #2 Reg / Italic — 14 point
- Garamond #3 Bold / Italic — 6, 8, 10 point
- Garamond #3 Reg / Italic — 8, 9, 10, 12 point
- Garamond Bold — 14, 18 point
- Gothic Alt 1 / Palisade — 18 point
- Gothic Alt 1 / Palisade — 24 point
- Gothic Extra Bold / Memphis Extra Bold — 14 point
- Goudy / Italic — 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 point
- Kenntonian / Italic — 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 point
- Lydian Bold / Italic — 10, 14 point
- Melior / italic — 6, 8, 9, 10 point
- Melior / semi-bold — 9, 10, 12 point
- Memphis Extra Bold Condensed — 18 point
- Metro Lite / Bold — 8 point
- News Gothic / Bold — 6, 8, 10, 12 point
- No. 2 / Condensed Title — 10 point
- Palatino / Italic — 6, 8, 10, 12 point
- Scotch — 11 point
- Spartan / Bold — 10 point
- Times Roman / italic — 9, 10, 11, 12, 14 point
- Vogue Bold Condensed / Extra Bold — 14 point
- Vogue Extra Bold (CAPS ONLY) — 18 point
- Vogue Extra Bold / Bold — 18 point
- Vogue Extra Bold / Oblique — 12, 14 point
- Vogue Lite / Bold — 8, 10, 12, 14, 18 point