Something New, Something Old, and Something Borrowed

We start with hand scribes and from there we move to moveable type, and then to Gutenberg, but for hundred’s of years there is a lull in innovation surrounding letterpress.  And then came the Linotype. Some may say it’s new technology because of the technology era it was invented in, and they would be partially correct. The Linotype was new technology because of the technology used to create and build it. The idea for it came in at the right time, if it had come too early it would have flopped because the technology just wasn’t there yet. Much like the Panama Canal when the French had tried to build it. The feat was too great for the technology at the time and if they had waited a little longer then the technology would have been equal to the task and it’s success would have been attributed to them rather than the Americans.

Linotype Machine. Photographed by Ciara Williams. Baltimore Museum of Industry.

Linotype Machine. Photographed by Ciara Williams. Baltimore Museum of Industry.

With all of its bells and whistles the Linotype was definitely something to admire, but its principle base was handset type and what could someone do to make the process of letterpress less time consuming and tedious. The Linotype is an extension of the hand-set type of old because it uses the same principle. Gather your letters in the right order,

Handset type. Photographed by Ciara Williams. Baltimore Museum of Industry.

Handset type. Photographed by Ciara Williams. Baltimore Museum of Industry.

place them in a neat row, upside down and left to right, take them to the press, kiss with ink, and let the printing-press, press the letters into the prepared paper. The Linotype simple took the time that it took to do hand-set type and shrunk it drastically. In this sense Linotype is simply an extension of hand-set type, but it can be argued that the technology used to make it possible is new and does represent a departure from hand-set type.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s