OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
With notes on the same process as used at The Recalcitrant Press
The Recalcitrant Press 1982
via the World Wide Web, 1999
Preface & Acknowledgements
Part I Historical
Part II At the Oxford University Press
Part III The Process at the Recalcitrant Press
U.S. Patent #4130
Electrotype Matrices Carl
Extracts from Bureau of Standards Publications, Tables & Formulae.
Depositing Case Details, Andrew Dunker
In August, 1980, I, my wife Hazle and our son Tom visited England for our very first time. Earlier that year I had attended the American Typecasting Fellowship conference in New Rochelle, New York, and had met David Belfort of the Monotype Corporation. David had invited me to visit the Monotype Works at Salfords while we were in England. We of course accepted, and went to Salfords at our earliest opportunity. We had a most interesting and delightful day, hosted by David, Derek Corkett and Harry Wearn. Seeing a line of new composition casters and keyboards was very reassuring!
While we were there, Derek asked if we were going to visit the Oxford University Press. I replied that OUP was high on my list of places to visit, but that unfortunately I knew no one there. He immediately picked up the telephone and arranged a visit for us.
Derek commented that their usual contact was now with the Offset Department, but that he felt sure that the foundry would be open to us. As it turned out, Mr. Peter Brooker, whose responsibilities include the Foundry, was our host. He showed us through the hot metal section of the Press, and then turned us over to Don Turner, the Typefounder.
The foundry room at OUP is dominated by a great "cabinet" about four feet wide, two feet deep and over six feet high. As Don Turner swung open the door, he commented that the foundry had been moved not too long before our visit and that he had wanted the cabinet at the other end of the room, but the engineers had refused to move it farther. I could then see why ...the cabinet was a safe whose walls were over two inches thick!
From that safe Don Turner showed us things that I had only dreamed of seeing: original punches for the Fell types, matrices of these historic types dating from Bishop Fell's time, a Baskerville Greek, and other matrices dating from the beginnings of type founding in England. And he showed us other less historic, but none the less interesting things, including the materials and techniques of electrolytic matrix making as they are now practiced at the
I had been learning to deposit matrices over the past two years, and so was quite interested in the process. Don was generous with his comments, and I left with a resolve to exchange information with him in the future.
Later in that same trip I was privileged to visit the Stephenson-Blake Foundry in Sheffield, and as luck would have it, our host Mr. Jack Baker, Sales Manager of S-B turned us over to Alex Bentley to show us through the Foundry. One of Alex's responsibilities is ...(you guessed it!) electrodepositing matrices. And so another educational day ensued.
Being a commercial foundry, Stephenson-Blake's methods differ from Oxford's both in technique and scale. S-B first deposits a nickle plating to provide matrices with maximum wear resistance and then backs this with deposited copper. They also have developed very sophisticated mechanical methods of finishing and justifying matrices, methods that should be recorded in detail.
I came home from that trip full of ideas and plans to write accounts of the two processes, but time has precluded my doing both. I chose to write about the Oxford method first because it is simpler, using hand methods to a considerable extent and therefore adaptable to a private founder's needs. I hope to treat Stephenson-Blake's method and to describe their tools in a future paper.
I have tried to be as accurate in my statements as possible, but errors can creep in in spite of our best efforts. I will welcome any corrections or suggestions from my readers.
Preface for the Oxford Conference
The following description of matrix making at the Oxford University Press was to have been completed and put into type before this Printing Historical Society Conference on Metal Typecasting, but the usual necessities of earning a living have interfered. Hence a rather preliminary, typescript version is offered, with a more complete version to follow in due time. Although I label this effort as preliminary, the
descriptive parts are is essentially complete, and are accurate to the best of my knowledge. To put the process of matrix making in perspective, I have included a certain amount of historical data. This part is rather less finished than the technical description, but again is as factually accurate as I could make it.
Because of the lack of complete records, some of the history is speculative. I have tried to indicate this at appropriate places, and in one case have repeated an account (that of Edwin Starr) that probably has a basis in fact, but includes a strong tincture of guesswork and fireside tales. It is included simply because I think it is an interesting story about the early years of typefounding in the United States.
Also, I have not had access to records of the Oxford University Press to complete the historical background of matrix making there during the last half of the nineteenth century. I hope to rectify that lack while in Oxford.
Although this paper is directed to a
knowledgeable audience at this conference, it is written with the non-expert in mind. Consequently many of the descriptions will be elementary or obvious to one familiar with the history and technique of typefounding. Please consider this in your reading of the text.
In addition to an explanatory statement, this preface is also to request from you, the participants in this conference, critical comments, corrections of fact, suggestions for additions
and any other comments you feel would make this account more useful to the historian as well as to the practicing private founder.
Mr. Eric Buckley, Printer to the University generously gave permission for me to write this account. Mr. Don Turner, Typefounder at the Oxford University Press patiently answered (and is still answering) numberless questions about his matrix making techniques. Most of the factual account in Part II is from that correspondence, but any errors of fact are mine.
Five friends were particularly instrumental in kindling my interest in typefounding and matrix making. Rich Hopkins answered many questions as I negotiated to buy my Thompson Typecaster, and continues to offer assistance, encouragement and the loan of matrices. Pat Taylor has freely given advice on the "care and feeding" of the Thompson and the Monotype Composition Casters. It was in his shop that I first saw type cast. Paul Duensing, Andrew Dunker and Andy Soule' are
continuing sources of advice and direction on the techniques of electrodeposition. Visits to their shops made their advice concrete, with each of them sharing their knowledge generously. Both Andrew and Andy have made matrices for a number of years, supplying not only their own needs, but also commercial founders' replacement matrices. Paul is of course well known in typographical circles for his type and ornament designs, which he
casts from matrices engraved in his own shop. Three better mentors for the beginning matrix maker could not be found.
Stan Nelson shared his knowledge of the history of typefounding, providing copies of Filmer's account of "Electro-Metallurgy" and other references, as well as discussing the history of the hand mold. Alexander Lawson provided details of Starr's involvement with electrotyped matrices, and directed me to Schraubstadter's article in the Inland Printer. Steve Saxe provided reference materials and made valuable comments on an early version of the manuscript.
As will be evident from a reading of this paper, I owe a considerable debt of gratitude to a variety of people. I have almost certainly left some of them out, and to them my apologies are extended.
Roy Rice Atlanta, Georgia, June 1982