Metal Type: Home | Library | Forum | Free Ads | Store

Mystery Machine - Early Photosetter?

Started by Dave Hughes, January 11, 2012, 07:52:35 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Printle: A Printing Word Game from Metal Type

Dave Hughes

Advertised for sale on the German Ebay.

This picture postcard has penciled on the back "old Photo Setzmaschine Linotype with 3 Magazinen"

I'm pretty sure that it isn't an old photo setting machine.

But maybe I'm wrong.

What do you think? There seems to be several of the machines in the room.

Don't forget to click the picture to get a better look.

Printle: Word Puzzle for Printers Play Now

Keep in touch with Metal Type Get our newsletters

Jeff Zilles [jeffo]

Photosetter - I think not - assuming that the view is from the operating position there is no control box for telling it what do do - in fact there seems to be a marked absence of controls of any sort - no pedals, buttons, knobs or whatever unless the shortish vertical protuberance at the right of what appears to be a guide bar is the 'Go' lever.

There is also a visible friction brake of the strong quick-stop variety and a strategically placed, well used looking waste basket of reasonable dimensions and overall the whole appears too solid in the frame for a photosetter and indeed lacks the necessary guards to keep the stray light out of the works.

What it looks similar to and reminds me strongly of is a Waite Inverted Diepress - that particular beast a product of one of the several print machinery builders which were situated in the UK at Otley in the Valley of the Warfe.

The W.I. Diepress was the premier machine for the production of high-class embossed printing from engraved or punched steel dies in the early to middle part of the last century and was the logical improvement of Waite's earlier machine which carried the die facing upwards as did the American Carver, Fullard and Roth machines.

On the further assumption that the Mystery Machine is of continental European construction and is actually a diepress would it be possible that it was fashioned along the lines of the Waite to utilise its advantages although the frame is recognisably not as massive.

The Illustrated machines are obviously hand fed with a feed table to the left, which makes sense in this case, for what appears to be the sidelay is to the right of what I guess to be the feedboard.

The machine at the front of the picture is the smaller of the two most easily seen although both have similarly sized sloped hoppers with a range of different width materials of indeterminate usefulness in what would be readily accessable reach for an operator sited at an appropriate feeding position - perhaps they are are slip sheets or batch separators or again something quite different.

I believe that Andy - our SwissTypesetter - has access to a diepress but have no idea what this particular machine is named or where it was made - perhaps it is of Continental origin and a manufacturer we have never heard of.

The other thought was that it could be a pretty heavyweight punching machine but I discounted this idea quickly for I can see no rescepticle for punchings which would need to be in an easily accessable place for the operator to empty.

My supposition could be well off the mark for in my search for other examples I was able to find just one proprietory manufacturer of such equipment - in fact I have noticed that getting internet access to illustrations of German built machinery generally is not easy, the moreso if it happens to be of older vintage.

Comments please  --  jeffo


Dave Hughes

Thanks Jeffo.

Once again, no surprise that the person advertising the item on Ebay has no idea what they are selling, or indeed the person tasked to write on the back of the photograph having no idea what they are looking at.

I've got to say that, in the absence of any other suggestions, yours would seem to solve the mystery.

I have sent Andy (aka SwissTypesetter) a Personal Message via the board, pointing out the thread and asking for his input, but as he has not visited the forum for over a year I'm not sure if he will respond.
Printle: Word Puzzle for Printers Play Now

Keep in touch with Metal Type Get our newsletters


I believe the caption "Foto Setzmaschine Linotype mit 3 Magazinen" indicates that it is a photo of a Linotype with 3 magazines.

I found the photo on an old post card site along with "Foto Setzmaschine "Linotype" mit zwei Magazinen," with a couple of photos of Mergenthaler.

Still not the real thing:-
George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast


Hey there,
sorry, but I've been busy to browse the forum frequently.
But I'm still out there and also still setting with and maintaining "my" linotype in the museum.

As for your picture, it sure looks a bit like a die stamping machine, but the frame seems quite ligtweight, so if it is, it's just for very small dies (maybe up to business card size).
I don't recognize the make.


Dave Hughes

It would appear that the jury is still out on this one.

Andy thinks it looks "a bit like" a die stamper, with reservations.

Can't believe I was fooled by someone writing "a photograph of" on the back of the photograph.

Would you, when cataloguing a batch of photographs, start each one with "a photograph of . . ." - only the Germans, I think!
Printle: Word Puzzle for Printers Play Now

Keep in touch with Metal Type Get our newsletters


The pictured machine has some similarities with an index tab cutting machine I saw in a bindery at one time. The stops at the fron over the table could be used to provide proper positioning for the tabs to be cut.

Quick Reply

Please leave this box empty:
Type the letters shown in the picture
Listen to the letters / Request another image

Type the letters shown in the picture:

Shortcuts: ALT+S post or ALT+P preview

Printers' Tales - Over 30 stories from the pre-digital age. Buy now on Amazon/Apple Books

☛ Don't miss our illustrated newsletters. Click here to see examples and subscribe. ☚