Ludlow Type Specimen Book
Lud­low Type Spec­i­men Book

From the 1920s, Mono­type took the chal­lenge of improv­ing typog­ra­phy very seri­ous­ly and embarked on a pro­gramme of devel­op­ing new faces and reviv­ing clas­sic faces so that the world might be rid of faces like Chel­tenham.  Inter­type and Lino­type were slow to fol­low and con­cen­trat­ed on speed of pro­duc­tion rather than qual­i­ty.  My view is that Lud­low took typog­ra­phy seri­ous­ly, but their small­er mar­ket share meant they did­n’t have the same impact.

The sys­tem itself had some advan­tages as well as the ital­ics (men­tioned below), the same degree of con­trol was avail­able over spac­ing as in hand com­po­si­tion.  Con­trast this with linecast­ers using adjustable spaces that some­times led to rivers of spaces fol­low­ing through work.

The name R. Hunter Mid­dle­ton is syn­ony­mous with the Lud­low Cor­po­ra­tion, and he designed some of the fir­m’s most suc­cess­ful faces includ­ing Depl­hi­an Titling, Tem­po (sans serif), Kar­nak (slab serif), and a Garamond


Ludlow Italic Matrices
Lud­low Ital­ic Matrices

Because of the sim­plic­i­ty of the Lud­low sys­tem, they could make amend­ments to the oper­a­tion of the machine rel­a­tive­ly eas­i­ly.  Once such change was to intro­duce ital­ic matri­ces, and a spe­cial ital­ic stick.  A dif­fi­cult prob­lem for line-cast­ing is that ital­ics have a ten­den­cy to encroach on the area of the pre­ced­ing and fol­low­ing let­ters: take the f for exam­ple, which will hang under the ear­li­er char­ac­ter and over the fol­low­ing.  Because most oth­er cast­ing uses rec­tan­gu­lar mats, this can­not eas­i­ly be account­ed for and so the face has to be adjust­ed and weak­ened to fit with­in the con­fines of the mat.  In 1913 Lud­low decid­ed to go with the ital­ic whole­heart­ed­ly and devel­oped matri­ces that slope at a 17° angle and are held in a stick with ends at the same angle.  The result is that an f, for exam­ple, can be cast at that angle and fit neat­ly with the oth­er types at the same angle.  By means of tri­an­gu­lar spaces, roman and ital­ics can mix on the same line.

Lud­low took full advan­tage of this and devel­oped some beau­ti­ful ital­ics to go with their faces.


Know­ing that they were keen to attract the job­bing print­er, Lud­low set out to make the print­ing of ruled formes very easy.  Job­bing print­ers had to pro­duce invoic­es, bills, account sheets and so on, and tra­di­tion­al­ly had used met­al rules sat between lead types to cre­ate the right pat­tern.  This approach tied up mate­r­i­al and took a vast amount of time: imag­ine set­ting mul­ti­ple hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal rules with some type to cre­ate a petrol sta­tion receipt, for example.

Mr Mer­rill of Lud­low devel­oped Rule­form in 1923.  The approach was to cre­ate uni­form-width matri­ces and exploit the slug by cast­ing over­hangs and under­hangs at the top and bot­tom of the same slug.  Using the repeat cast­ing func­tion meant that one line could be set and dupli­cat­ed, and the under­hangs and over­hangs would mesh with each oth­er to cre­ate a whole, sol­id lump for printing.