Monotype Booklet
Mono­type Book­let

The Mono­type sys­tem was a major break through: a sys­tem that could use a set of com­po­nents to pro­duce indi­vid­ual types, in the right order, using high-qual­i­ty print­ing met­als from a key­board input.  This approach meant an end to exten­sive hand com­po­si­tion.  While friends with line cast­ing machines (like the Lino­type or Inter­type) were first to avoid hand-com­po­si­tion, they could not han­dle indi­vid­ual types like the Mono­type chaps could.  The advan­tages were man­i­fold: once the type was cast indi­vid­ual char­ac­ters could be exchanged, for a cor­rec­tion or sim­ply to improve spac­ing.  Small­er jobs could be done by hand-set­ting but using the indi­vid­ual types cast by the machine.  None of this could be done with line-cast­ing.  Mono­type also had an aggres­sive pol­i­cy of pro­mot­ing great typog­ra­phy.  The firm revived and re-cut many faces to offer a stag­ger­ing array of dif­fer­ent styles for use in all uses of the print­ed word.  Com­peti­tors in line-cast­ing did make some advances in this area but their focus was on small­er sizes and very quick turn­around as they relied on the news­pa­per indus­try for cus­tom.

The Mono­type sys­tem relied on some dif­fer­ent com­po­nents.  The sep­a­ra­tion of work meant that indi­vid­ual machines could be kept busy.  For exam­ple, two key­boards could be pro­duc­ing paper tapes that would dri­ve a sin­gle cast­ing machine: so the cast­ing machine was busy all day while the two key­boards were busy.  If a line-cast­ing machine was used then the machine is only cast­ing when the oper­a­tor is key­ing.  I’ll sum­marise the key parts of the sys­tem in this sec­tions and why you might use them.

Side­note: The Mono­type Cor­po­ra­tion was very very keen to pro­tect their trade­mark.  They insist­ed that the mark was a not to be used to describe any­thing; and that the word ‘Mono­type’ should always be shown either in quotes or in cap­i­tals.  They also asked that wher­ev­er pos­si­ble that word should be described as a Trade Mark of the Cor­po­ra­tion.  For ease of use, I’ll refer here to sim­ply Mono­type.  Should the Cor­po­ra­tion wish to cor­rect me on this, I will be hap­py to oblige pro­vid­ed that they allow me to take them up on their offer of free day train­ing at their Mono­type school.


Monotype Caster (from ECP)
Mono­type Cast­er (from ECP)

The Mono­type Com­po­si­tion cast­er pro­duces com­posed lines of indi­vid­ual pieces of type, from 4 to 14pt bod­ies, and to a max­i­mum line length of 60 picas. It is con­trolled by a punched paper tape, and runs from 45 to 180 rpm, depend­ing upon body size. With appro­pri­ate attach­ments, it will pro­duce com­posed type up to 24pt, and dis­play type (sorts) to 36pt, and go down to a speed of 9 rpm. It can also pro­duce math­e­mat­ics, Ara­bic, Hebrew, etc., and lead and rule from 1pt to 12pt. Its over­all weight is 1522lbs and work­ing floor area is 9 ft sq.

The Mono­type Type and Rule cast­er is sim­i­lar to the Com­po­si­tion cast­er, but does not have the paper tape con­trol mech­a­nism, and so only casts indi­vid­ual sorts. Sizes from 4pt to 36pt, and speed from 45 to 180 rpm (down to 9 rpm with low speed and Varigear). It can cast lead and rule from 1pt to 12pt. It weighs 1326 lbs and its work­ing floor area is 9 x 10 ft.

The Mono­type Super cast­er pro­duces indi­vid­ual type sorts from 4pt to 72pt, at speeds from 4 to 144 rpm (or 2 to 160 rpm with Varigear). With appro­pri­ate attach­ments, it can cast Palace Script, quo­ta­tions, con­tin­u­ous bor­der, swelled rule, lead and rule from 1pt to 18pt, and strip fur­ni­ture from 24pt to 72pt. It weighs 1484 lbs and its work­ing floor area is 8 ft sq.


This descrip­tion tak­en from the ‘Mono­type Book of Infor­ma­tion’ by David Bolton of the Alem­bic Press.