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Another Balloon Deflated

Started by Mechanic, September 13, 2011, 06:06:54 AM

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In October 1890 John Southward presented a paper read before the Balloon Society of Great Britain, at St. James' Hall
Type-composing machines of the past, the present, and the future.

On page 32 he states:-
QuoteI had intended to refer, along with the present day machines, to the Linotype.
It is not a type-setting machine - not a machine for setting- up movable types- but one for arranging matrices and for casting from them line bars capable of being printed -imperfectly, however, in my judgment -on a letterpress machine. This Linotype Machine was introduced into this country about twelve months ago by a company which at first asked for a capital of one million sterling. The vendors fixed the purchase price of the patents at 820,000. About 11,000 was spent merely in advertising the company. The machine has been tried in London, and had already been discarded.

If you read the book on-line you can search for "Linotype" and you are given a list of pages that reference Linotype with little (dare I say it) balloons along the bottom. Placing the cursor over the balloon displays the referenced text. Of course it is not the machine we have all come to know, but the original Blower Linotype.
George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast

Dave Hughes

I've put a "mini-reader" version of the paper here:

Some nice typography has been used.

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Dave Hughes

I've had a good read through this pamphlet now, and it makes an interesting read, although I'm not quite sure why the "Balloon Society" were interested in the subject matter!

At first I started to suspect that Mr. Sutherland must have had a financial interest in the Thorne composing machine.

He was very dismissive of the (Blower) Linotype:

"So that is already a machine of the past; another addition to the melancholy list of failures during the past seventy years - failures which have swallowed up such an incalculable amount of capital."

He was very enthusiastic about the Thorne:

The Thorne . . . "which, in my opinion, must supersede all other systems employed in typesetting mechanisms."

The typesetting of the future - that is, of the class of book-work and news-work to which, of course, I am confining myself will, I venture to predict, be done on machines of the rotary principle.

However, there was an appendix to the pamphlet, where he replied to suggestions that the had exaggerated the capabilities of the Thorne machine. He even gave examples of the Thorne's typesetting, with timings on how long it had taken to create.

He ended the appendix with the following:

I may perhaps add that I am not a member of the Syndicate who owns the patents of the Thorne machine, and have no monetary interest in it in any way. I can, therefore, express an entirely impartial and independent opinion upon it, as upon other composing machines.

But let's not forget that this pamphlet was produced in an era when outrageous claims,  for Patent Medicines, just to give an example, could be made, seemingly with impunity.

Another thing I enjoyed about the pamphlet were the illustrations, which were of birds!

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