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Emile L'rssen, "Die Monotype Fachbuch f'r Taster und Giesser", 1954

Started by John Cornelisse, January 08, 2015, 10:20:07 AM

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Printle: A Printing Word Game from Metal Type

John Cornelisse

There are a bunch of manuals in English and other languages. Most of these were copies of the "official"
manuals produced by the Monotype UK and Lanston Monotype USA.

After the second worldwar in the communistic republik of Eastern Germany a very special manual was made:

Emile L'rssen, "Die Monotype Fachbuch f'r Taster und Giesser", 1954, Fachbuchverlag GMBH Leipzig.


This manual contains a lot of information, that is not easy to be found elsewhere.

In great dept the keyboard and the caster are mentioned. And because there were still a bunch of
older machines, their old-fashioned attachments are explained extensively.


Manuals are most times designed by the very people, that do not need a manual in the first place.
This is the very reason why manuals are so often defective for almost any equipment...

The same applies for Monotype manuals, could anybody learn how to cast without somebody
to instruct him or her ?


A printer using Monotype had to buy:

    - machines,
          keyboards, a caster, compressor
          And the larger compagnies had a lot more keyboards than casters
    - matrices
    - wedges
    - unit-adding wedges
    - keybanks for all the different unit-arrangements

Some fonts had a different unit-arrangement for every size. Lutetia is a nice example of this.
All this equipment was expensive. And certainly in communistic countries the people got inventive.

This manual describes a method to change the key-banks, making it fit for a special job:

The next text of  a play is made with

     - the spoken text is cast in: series 174-10 9.5 set for the roman
     - the comments in: series 174-9 8.75 set for the italic
     - the names of the play-characters: series 2 9.75 set for the small capitals


For this kind of job, Monotype had no design, all text was cast in one run, wit a S211 8.75 set wedge.

The layout of the diecase:


For this the keybanks needed to be changed. And this was done rather clever. 

Here a picture how this was achieved:


How to fit a papertower of a keyboard to a computer-interface.

A keyboard can be changed to produce ribbons controlled by a computer-interface.

For this job the book has also some valuable information at page 154:


I will not explain in detail here, how this can be done, no time for that. If anybody would like
to do this, he can get any help from me when needed.


This book is not very rare, but compared with English manuals quite expensive.
The book has 452 pages  plus the extra drawings, but it is not easy to scan it, without damaging a copy.



What an excellent sounding manual. I have already ordered a copy. 

When I typed the name into Google Translate, it responded:  "The Monotype textbook for Buttons and Creamer ", which I thought was interesting.  It also offered "Moulder or Founder" for Giesser, but nothing more illuminating for "Taster", but I guess it means "Keyboard and Caster". . .

I look forward to its insights.

John Cornelisse

Google translator is not a very good translator. Rather a very louzy one. It helps a little, and is cheap.
Good only when you have nobody to do it properly. Keep that in mind.

I had a good course in the German language when I was in highschool, but that was in
the 1960-ties. Still this helps me a lot.

You might start learning that language, it will surely enrich your life. Reading Goethe from
the original German texts.

And there are so much more famous books and authors in that language.

The manual is also very informative about the elder monotype-machines too. These machines had
survived the war in Eastern Germany, but could not be replaced because the restictions
on import. I guess... Or they had not the english pounds to pay for them.


The papertower of the keyboard, I took it off, separated it from the other parts.

I changed it a bit, for use with the interface and made ribbons with it for others, a rather slow proces

There are a few ins and outs with that mechanism. But it can be done computer controled.


The book is hard bound but bound with iron staples in it. They are already a bit rusty.

It is very difficult to scan the pages, but I might take all staples out of it preserving the book.
And than the pages are available for scanning. But there are so much other things to do.


Yes. I was more amused by the Google Translation than trusting its accuracy. I didn't make the immediate connection between "buttons" and "keys" and was instead reminded of the character of the button moulder in Peer Gynt. I did start learning some German when I was in Austria for a few months last year, although I'm not really up to reading Goethe, I can manage my kn'del recipe book.

I'm hoping that the manual will be useful as we are now in a similar situation to when it was written - divorced from a ready supply of instructors and spare parts. As long as I don't start trying to use the caster to make kn'del, it should be OK.

John Cornelisse

I'll add two pages of it here: The foreword. It explains very precise the situation in the
"democratic republic" at that moment.

The book is too much to scan it complete.



In the mean time the book is not avalable anymore at That's the result of making this kind of recommandations.

John Cornelisse

I'm scanning the book... there are quite a few pages... In due time it all be available on the download-part of this site,

I started with the part concerning the casters. This is actually the most important part. With all those interfaces momently, who is busy typing ?

And how about those rolls of Monotype paper. I heard the Typearchive has a machine to produce them. I wonder whether they actually use it for production.


It is 6 February 2015 this day.  At this very moment I'm in Lodz, Poland.

There are quite a number of casters here, 5 of them, at the BookArt Museum.

2 super casters, 2 composition caster, two large composition casters, one of these is not complete but a valuble source of parts.

In all of them I have had a contribution to clean and re-erect them. Now there are a few dedicated people using them too.

The scans were sent to the site, now we need to wait until they are processed to be added to the downloads on this site.

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