The 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.
In this section
The Ludlow System
Securing an “inexhaustable supply of new type” for the smaller printer
Principles and Operation of the Ludlow
How the Ludlow works, and how it’s operated: in outline
Efficiency of the Ludlow
The Ludlow people were convinced their system was the most efficient: what was the basis for their claim?
Just as competitors wanted to improve typography generally, Ludlow also took on the challenge