Ludlow Top Surface

The Ludlow Typograph

ludlow1-150x150The Lud­low Typo­graph — more com­monly ‘the Lud­low’ — is a machine that com­bines hand assembly of each char­ac­ter, along with the cast­ing of brand-new type for each line.  The other type found­ing machines used by print­ers were driven by a key­board: the Linotype/Intertype machines hav­ing the key­board built-in; and the Mono­type using a key­board to punch paper tape.

The prin­ciples behind the Lud­low are simple — the oper­ator col­lects a small brass mould for each char­ac­ter needed in the line.  These are assembled into a ‘stick’, a small frame, and the moulds are clamped together to form a line of moulds.  This stick and moulds are then clamped in to a machine which injects hot metal into the moulds.  A line of type is cast and ejec­ted from the front of the machine.  The moulds have to be dis­trib­uted back into the rel­ev­ant cases by hand.

Unusu­ally, the Lud­low can cast between 6pt and 228pt type on slugs without changes to the machine.  Other sys­tems have to be mod­i­fied with each size change.

The Lud­low was typ­ic­ally used in two spheres: the news­pa­per and the rub­ber stamp industry.  News­pa­pers typ­ic­ally used the Lud­low to pro­duce head­lines to sit with their Inter­type or Lino­type mat­ter.  Rub­ber stamp makers use the machines to pro­duce the ori­gin­als for stamps.

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A UK-centric view of letterpress printing