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Smallest type caster?

Started by sky22, February 02, 2008, 09:47:05 PM

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sky22

Hello,

I've just recently found this great site! ;D Thanks to the creator and people who have put things on it, it's all very interesting!  ;D

I really want to be able to cast my own type, I have done since I started printing. So I have decided to try and find a type casting machine, but as I don't have a lot of experience at type casting I don't know which one to try and get or if their all similar enough not to matter which one I get.

All I want is one that can cast type and is as small as I can get. I don't really care if it is fast, slow or if it takes a long time to learn as I have the time to learn and only want it to be able to cast the small amounts of type that I need.  :)

Does anyone have any recommendations to which sort of machine would be best and any idea where might have one?

Thanks


Dave Hughes

Hi Sky, interesting question!

I take it you just want to cast enough type for your own print jobs?

Single pieces of type or lines?

Don't forget type-casting can be a dangerous process and if the machines are not set up or maintained correctly you could easily have molten lead flying round the room. I can testify that being on the receiving end is a painful experience!
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sky22

Yes, I don't want to be a commercial type caster or anything like that, I just thought it would be nice to cast my own type so I can do everything from start to finish.

I want to cast single pieces of type instead lines because I like hand setting type. It's very relaxing. ;D

I thought about getting a monotype machine but I've read you need a caster and a keyboard which sounds like it's going to take up a lot of space.

I don't want to cast much so I'm hoping someone can recommend a nice small caster for small amounts.  :)

QuoteDon't forget type-casting can be a dangerous process and if the machines are not set up or maintained correctly you could easily have molten lead flying round the room. I can testify that being on the receiving end is a painful experience!
Thanks for the warning. I'm hoping once I find a machine I can find someone to teach me some of the basics of casting type.


Dave Hughes

Looking round the net, it seems that a Thompson Typecaster might fit the bill.

Smaller than the Monotype system and with the ability to use a variety of mats.

There's an interesting article about it here:
http://www.apa-letterpress.com/T%20&%20P%20ARTICLES/Typecasting/Thompson%20casster.html

I have no experience in operating one though, and I have no idea how rare they are now.
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Dan Williams

Very sad day in my life, was seeing our old Lanston getting loaded onto a lift gate, bound for a new home in Austin, TX.
Previous to that, having had twenty-five and some years experience with a Lanston sorts caster, off and on, I can say with some authority that keyboard, tape and functioning composition system are certainly not required to cast single types, on typical monotype casters.
According to my reference books, in order to cast sorts on a composition caster, the machine must be equipped with "Display Type Attachment 9CU"  In order to cast rule and spacing material, the machine must be equipped with attachments 11CU and 12CU. Not all composition casters were so equipped. The attachments did not prevent normal composition function, although adjustments and some limited parts swaps had to be undertaken prior to the switch-over.
I think that both U.S. and English manufacturers prided themselves on producing machines that could operate equally well as straight matter machines, strip casters or single-type casters.
Just follow the step-by-step instructions in the composition caster's instructional book and you will be casting single types. Now, this does require a mat holder and receiver specific to either single cellular or flat matrices. There are bridge adjustments that must be made, also.
But, switching molds on a newer caster will be loads easier than it was on our old 1923 Orphan Annie.
Just a word about availability. I and Robert Griffith visited a collector in NE Texas, who had almost a dozen nice Lanston machines of all different varieties, including a Thompson. Currently I think there are lots of casters out there, but like linotypes they are being junked all the time.
Yes a Thompson would probably be preferable to a sorts caster or a composition caster, for casting single types. But perhaps not that much more so.
Another thing...monotypes that were intended for display casting (and this is true for both composition casters as well as sorts casters) featured complex gear-works for exact speed control. At 36 point quad size, it becomes very important to control speed...oh yes indeed!!!
For machine without speed control...this is nothing that an electrician with a Variable Frequency Drive can't fix.
In the U.S., Monotypes were common in larger publishing houses and typographers in major cities. They were also used to compose magazines and books (particularly math books), but with the exception of Giant Casters and Material Makers, never used to compose newspapers. Large newspapers almost all had Giant Casters and Material Makers (to supplement their Headline and Ad resource) Both the Houston Chronicle and Houston Post had Monotype departments. But I am under the impression that Monotypes were not as common in small US print shops, as they were in Great Britain.

Dan

Mechanic

The flowing web site wont help Sky22 much, but I found it interesting. It is relative to casting type.

http://historywired.si.edu/object.cfm?ID=398

Below the item there is a link to making type by hand.

Another site worth a look is

http://home.earthlink.net/~adozois/type/index.html

Interesting if not helpful.
George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast
Queensland
AUSTRALIA

Mechanic

QuoteVery sad day in my life, was seeing our old Lanston getting loaded onto a lift gate, bound for a new home in Austin, TX.

Dan,
I knew nothing about the Lanston caster until I read your brief overview of the machine. Sure I had been in print shops where the machines were operating. The operators often came over, when I was trying to get  type-high and parallel along the length of a 30 pica slug, to point out how much easier it was on their machines, when they only had to worry about one character. I decided to find out bit more about the Lanston.

The end of Lanston came rather abruptly. Gerald Giampa , a Canadian typographer, purchased Lanston and in 1988 moved the company to Prince Edward Island. Lanston continued to service their American hot-metal customers until January 21, 2000, when a tidal wave destroyed the operation. A rather sad end don't you think?

I understand that Lanston still supplies digital fonts to the industry, although the company is no longer owned by Gerald Giampa.   

Gerald Giampa takes a rather tongue in cheek look at the Lanston caster operation on this website,

http://www.p22.com/lanston/giampa/LanstonCaster.html
George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast
Queensland
AUSTRALIA


Dave Hughes

Dan Williams sent in these photographs of a Thompson type caster and an English Super Caster he saw recently, unfortunately they weren't for sale!

Thompson Caster



English Super Caster



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Dan Williams

Quote from: Mechanic on February 12, 2008, 11:10:03 PM
Dan,
I knew nothing about the Lanston caster until I read your brief overview of the machine.


It is ironic that Lanston Monotype Corporation would be lost in history.  They did alot of things in the twenties, thirties,forties and fifties, in the U.S.A., not to mention their originating the whole Monotype process to begin with. They got involved in photomechanical technology, and produced step-and-repeat photocomposers and darkroom equipment. In the late sixties they marketed the Form-O-Type system, in which business form elements, lines and data could be simultaneously composed onto a single sheet of film (neat trick in 1967). Lanston was a marketing agent of English Monotype and the company distributed various English Monotype brochures, newsletters and products to the U.S.A. But that was a two way relationship because English Monotype marketed Lanston's Universal Strip Caster and the "new" Monomatic devices in Great Britain. Lanston also had a sizeable non-print complement that included adding machines and computational machinery. Evidently the labor trouble may have done them in, although I suspect that management may also have been an issue. Lanston was at various times a subsidiary of different companies including United States Banknote Corporation and even American Type Founders, during the White Consolidated Industries era. 

I believe that Lanston effectively ceased production in about 1970. I believe that  because the old ITCA "Monotype Owners Council" met that year to discuss availability of Lanston products. Also by 1975, Vandersons became official U.S.A. agent for British Monophoto products. AND by that time, Hartzell Machine works (Pennsylvania) had become  U.S.A. agent for British Monotype's mechanical machinery.  In the early nineteen seventies, Hartzell also became principal supplier for all American caster parts, rebuilds and matrices.

I am very surprised to hear that Lanston existed in any form after 1970. But there is no doubt that the font collection was of considerable value.

rag451

This is to add to Dan's photos from our trip out to East Texas in April 2007:







Robert Griffith
Burleson, Texas
www.burlesonlinotype.com
www.burlesonhistory.com

intertypeman

If you are printing on a commercial scale then a Thompson may well be a desirable machine for casting sorts. However, on a hobby scale - to produce type mainly or exclusively for your own use - I'd think that a Typofix would be far more appropriate casting device, and equally as useful. You wouldn't need mats, just a single sample in good condition - wood, plastic or typemetal will work equally well - of each of the types that you wish to replicate. If anyone reading this knows of a sound or repairable Typofix looking for a new home in the UK, please remember that I mentioned it here! Tony

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