William Leavenworth [US]

Wood Type, From 1834

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1. Overview

In 1834, William Leavenworth, possibly in collaboration with A. R. Gilmore (who is otherwise unknown) developed a pantograph-controlled rotary engraving machine (aka pantograph router) for making wood type. This was the earliest use of such a machine in America. There is a continuous chain of successive businesses from this point to the end of the commercial wood type business with Hamilton. It is presumed that Leavenworth's pantograph was the model for the later models a few of which are documented, but the detailed history of the evolution of the pantograph for wood type making has never been researched (and it is unlikely that sufficient information survives to do so).

The earlier machine engraving of wood type by Darius Wells involved a "lateral router" which was not pantographically controlled.

Darius Wells is presumed (by Kelly) to have acquired Leavenworth's pantograph at the dissolution of Leavenworth's firm when its manager, Ebenezer Russell Webb, joined him as a partner in the firm of Wells and Webb ( {Kelly 1969}, p. 37)

2. Notes and References

{Kelly 1969} Kelly, Rob Roy. American Wood Type: 1828-1900. NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1969.

Reissued in April 2010 by Liber Apertus Press, Saratoga, CA.


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