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French Monotype Rival?

Started by Dave Hughes, February 13, 2024, 09:14:30 AM

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Dave Hughes

I spotted this illustration, from 1908, offered for sale on eBay.

It's from a French "engineering" publication and appears to show a rival to the Monotype system.

Has anyone ever seen anything like it?

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Maarten Renckens

No, but Patrick Goossens maybe has. Could you send me the link to eBay? I'll ask him.

Maarten Renckens

Dave Hughes

Quote from: Maarten Renckens on February 17, 2024, 10:56:13 AMCould you send me the link to eBay?

Sorry, but I can't find the listings now. There were a dozen or so similar, only one with a print-related machine.

They didn't speculate on the machine, just details of the publication it was from.

I guess the listings must have expired.
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Dave Hughes

Found it! It was listed on the French eBay!

View the item on eBay: 1908 - Machines IN Composer Linotype And Electrotypogra phy - First Page

It looks like the machine may have something to do with electrotyping.
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Seen more clearly and with description of the machine (in French alas)

Électrotypographe,  Système Meray et Rozar, Modèle 1907

Maarten Renckens


The short translation on Ebay mentions:

First page cut out from the French magazine "Génie civil" from Saturday August 15, 1908.
"Civil Engineering" is a weekly review of French and foreign industries. The incredible aesthetic of these first pages make them a common decor element for a loft or industrial type decoration: Indeed, on a single sheet you will have visual elements from the beginning of the 20th century oriented towards industry, invention and mechanics, as well as a strong link with the history of these technological revolutions presented in the main illustration ( engraving or photo). To be framed for maximum shine! We have other elements of this type in stock on several themes (Aviation, militaria, Marine, locomotion, etc.), consult our other announcements, or contact us.

The illustration on this page represents: Linotype typesetting machines and electrotypography. The Linotype represented here revolutionized the world of printing by speeding up the composition of texts thanks to its innovative mechanics capable of assembling entire lines on matrices. Next to it is electrotypography which made it possible to duplicate typographic characters by electrodeposition for a lasting impression. This page provides a fascinating overview of the technical advances in publishing in the early 20th century and is a valuable historical document for fans of industrial history as well as those interested in the beginnings of the digital revolution in processing text and its printing.

I asked Patrick Goosens, and he was asked before but didn't have more information.



I think I may have too much time on my hands...........translation of the article.

The first page and a half of this article deals with the various type casting machines - monotype and linotype with a passing reference to the Rototype 

Mention should also be made of the rototype, which is more recent than the linotype, and is the work of an Austrian inventor, M. Schimmel. It also provides blended lines. The dies, released by the typist, are transported by means of a large wheel which turns, always in the same direction, a quarter of a turn each time; The matrices go as follows, with each movement: (1) from the keyboard to the organ of justification; (2) the justification for casting; (3) from casting to the distributor. Several lines are thus, at each moment, at different stages of the work: one in composition, another in justification, another in casting, another in distribution. The justification is done by means of elastic spaces, and it is sufficient to tighten the line, which is deliberately composed a little too long, to bring it back to its exact length, without changing the proportion of the spaces. Instead of a matrix for each character, the rototype has discs around the edges of which are engraved the matrices of various letters with the same size; These discs, released by the keyboard, are threaded on an axis and fixed there in the proper orientation so that the letter corresponding to the lowered key of the keyboard, and not another, appears around the edge of the disc, so as to continue the line begun. The disadvantage of the machines we have just mentioned is that each correction results in the reworking of the entire line and often the entire end of the paragraph reached.

The remainder of the article:

We shall hereafter describe in more detail the electrotypograph, an electrically operated machine of the same kind, which works at the maximum speed permitted by the skill of typing, automatically justifying and delivering lines in separate characters. This machine, invented by two Hungarians, Messrs. Meray and Rozar, dates from 1902, but in 1907 it received various important improvements.
The electrotypograph consists of a completely separate typesetting machine and a casting machine. The typesetting machine includes a punch typewriter, which provides a control copy of the compound text, and a perforated strip of square holes arranged in eight parallel rows.

One of these rows is regular and is only used to drive the paper through the mechanism. The combinations of the other five rows correspond to the series of miniscule letters, following a principle quite analogous to that of the manipulator of the Baudot multiple telegraph, now employed in all the major French offices.

The combination of the seventh row with one of the previous five changes the miniscules to capital letters; Finally, the combination of the eighth row with one of the previous five shows signs of punctuation.

The keyboard of this machine has 97 keys, 90 of which each correspond to two types of characters, which can be used by a switch lever; the other seven each have a special role.

The order of the keys on the keyboard can be arranged at will, depending on the language in which one is composing, as is customary for typewriter keyboards. This order is such that the most common letters are the first to reach the operator's fingers. This order does not have to be modified when the characters to be composed are changed, i.e. the roman is replaced, for example, by italics, etc., so that the operator accustomed to his keyboard always retains the benefit of the manual dexterity he has acquired. It is even independent of the body (height), the face, and the width of the characters used, whatever they may be.

At the same time as the 4-centimetre-wide strip of paper is perforated, a calculating device records the thickness of the characters and spaces and totals them as they go. At the end of each line, the typist, alerted by a gong triggered by the moving needle on the justification disc (visible in Figure 1 to the right of the keyboard) when he arrives at the mark that fixes the length of the lines, lowers the justification key. This key is unique, a significant advantage over other systems where the operator has to choose from several keys the one that is suitable for justifying the line in composition, hence a loss of time and some chances of error. The apparatus then calculates the residual space, divides it by the number of spaces, and finally writes on the tape, in the form of a special double perforation, the correction which must undergo each space according to this. At the same time, another perforation on the strip indicates the passage to the next line. This correction mechanism can be used to justify a line that is too short or too long by 5 millimetres.

The perforated strip, which also bears, as we have said, a control copy of the text, can be corrected before casting, subjected to cuts, fittings, etc. In addition, the melted composition can then be reworked as a hand-typesetting, since the characters are independent of each other. The composing machine requires only 1/10 horsepower, and can be operated either by a small electromotor, such as those used for sewing machines, for example, connected to a lighting circuit, or by any other means.

The casting machine is completely independent of the typesetting machine, which makes it possible to prepare strips in advance and use them as and when needed. This is a serious advantage over linotype machines. By keeping the tapes corresponding to a given work, it is possible to start the composition process again for a new edition, without having to start the typing work again, and by removing the cumbersome and expensive storage of the original typesetting or stereotypes for that composition. The perforated strip is engaged in the components of the casting machine, shown to the right of the typewriter in Figure 1, but which, in reality, can be installed wherever desired.

Driven by a motor (usually electric) of 1 horsepower, this machine automatically reads the combinations of the holes in the strip, as we will explain without going into the details of an ingenious and complicated mechanism, brings the dies in front of the mould, assembles the characters into justified lines, and transports these lines automatically to the galley.

The molten metal is injected into a mould, one end of which is formed by a crimp matrix where the face of the character is formed. These dies are grouped six by six on the edge of discs, threaded on the axis of a disc carriage. The six matrices of the same disc are those of a miniscule of the corresponding capital letter and a punctuation mark, repeated twice in characters of different types. The spaces are cast like the characters, but the corresponding discs naturally do not carry a matrix. Low spaces, such as those used in manual typesetting, can be cast at will, or, by the operation of a lever, high spaces, i.e. spaces reaching the level of the hollow of the imprint of the characters.

The choice of the disc and the matrix that should receive the lead jet is made, depending on the combination made by the perforated tape, by means of a mechanism reminiscent of that of the Baudot telegraph receiver, and which it would be too complicated to describe in detail. Suffice it to say that it comprises: (1) a reader apparatus whose levers, pressing on the unwinding strip, and in line with the perforations, produce an electrical contact in the circuit of an electromagnet, each time they encounter a perforation; (2) a combinator apparatus in which the electromagnets, the levers and finders, and the discs or channels for rest and work, bring the disc-carriage exactly in the position and orientation required so that the matrix corresponding to the letter recorded by the pre-drilled belt is applied in front of the molten lead injector, coming from a gas-heated crucible and mounted on the machine. The molten character is ejected  and pushed between shaping knives, then it falls on a composter and, at the end of each line, which can be up to 18 centimetres long, this composter is discharged onto a galley, as in hand work. In the early electrotypograph, the perforated strip passed over the machine in the opposite direction of its manufacture; the lines were therefore composed starting from the last and backwards: it is understandable that thus the perforations of justification were encountered by the machine at the beginning of the line to which they referred, and operated the justification by giving the spaces the necessary value.

But in the latest model built since 1907 by the Schuckert Works, Nuremberg, the casting machine operated on the tape in the same direction as it was perforated, so that the tape coming out of the perforating machine can be directly engaged in it, something impossible with the first device (since it was necessary to engage the tape from the back end, separated from the rest of the roll). This is very useful for daily newspapers, who need to have the composition immediately to have it corrected and ready as soon as possible.   
As can be seen from this brief description, the division of labour between two separate machines greatly facilitates operations, either because the typesetting workshop confines itself to preparing the tapes and then sending them to the plate-making workshop, which can be entirely independent of it and do the work as it sees fit, or because successive prints are made without restarting the composition. either the casting machine is used in isolation, during unemployment, to make type for sale, or finally the two machines are juxtaposed and the tape passed directly from one to the other, in which case the whole works as a single machine supervised by a single typewriter, which is advantageous in a small printing plant.

The normal hourly output of the casting machine is 7000 letters of any size between 5 point  and 12 point, i.e. the usual sizes, while the composer easily achieves, with an average manuscript, a production of 10,000 to 12,000 letters, there is sufficient time left for the latter to execute, on the casting machine, the small manipulations it requires. In large printing houses, two compositors produce, in a 9-hour day, or in 18 hours work, the perforated strips required for 27 hours of casting; these can be spread over two or three casting machines, which require only one person to supervise. We have already pointed out the advantage of electrotypograph over line-casting machines, from the point of view of the facilities for correcting the composition, before and after casting.

On the other hand, it contains a small number of matrices which are easy to replace, whereas the above-mentioned machines have, for each character, a whole magazine of matrices in proportion to the frequency of use of that typeface, so as not to run out of them until the distributor has brought back to the magazine the first matrices which have just been used for the preceding lines. Finally, perforated tapes can, by means of a telegraph apparatus of the Baudot type, be reproduced at any distance in several copies, that is to say, a newspaper article, for example, composed in Paris, can be transmitted to different provincial towns, during the hours of night when the telegraph lines are leased to the newspapers, and received in the form of strips ready to pass through the casting machines. Such a combination can be advantageous to the large provincial newspapers.

The price of a complete electrotypograph, with its accessories, is close to 20,000 francs, which still limits its use to large printing houses; but the ever-increasing size of daily newspapers, especially in the United States, and even in Paris, will doubtless make machines of this kind more and more appreciated: in a few years' time, the ingenuity of inventors will certainly succeed in simplifying them while preserving for them the qualities of principle of which we have here wished to give a simple outline.

A. Bidault Des Chaumes,
Engineer of Arts and Manufacture.                          

As an aside, I also have the article printed in le Génie Civil from 1894 detailing the Linotype. If anyone is interested PM me and I will post it in the Linotype thread                                                                                                                                         

Dave Hughes

Thanks for translating that, @printsmurf - great work.

So, having now read the article it seems that the machine, an Electrotypograph, is very similar to the Monotype system, and appeared on the market some 20 years later.

Interesting how early versions of the caster had to start at the very end and work backwards.
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Dave Hughes

The post above links to an article about the machine being offered for sale.

Here's the article:

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