Schokmiller

Typographical Pantograph Engraving Machine

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1. Evidence

Very little is known about this machine. It is perhaps best to cite what little is known directly.

American typefounder Nicholas J. Werner wrote the following in an "Address" to the St. Louis Club of Printing House Craftsmen circa 1931 (reprinted as "St. Louis in Type-Founding History" in 1941):

" Mr. [Charles H.] Schokmiller built an improved type-face engraving machine for a foundry in Sheffield, England, and it fell to my lot to be sent across the seas to show its type designers and engravers how to use it. This was in 1906. ... Last year I visited these folks, the Stevenson, Blake & Company, letter foundry, and was astounded at the progress they had made since the installation of the small plant which I had brought to them. The very person I had taught ( Mr. John E. Uttley) showed me a number of his wonderful improvements in the methods of designing and engraving." (pp. 2-3 of the 1932 presentation, or p. 22 in the 1942 reprint)

We also know from the same address by Werner that while the Benton punch and matrix pantographs were "upright" (vertical-format) machines, "the machines used in St. Louis had the flat pantograph." These St. Louis machines were the Central Type Foundry machine, the Inland Type Foundry machine, and Schokmiller's.

I know of no other evidence concerning this machine. Everything else here is speculation.

2. Speculation

In his career, Schokmiller came very close to several typographical pantograph engraving machines. It is possible that any of these might have influenced him. On the other hand, there was considerably more work being done on pantographs in this period than is generally remembered, and Schokmiller was a capable machinist. There is no reason to think that Schokmiller's machine was anything other than his own design. Neither is there any reason to think that he was blind to what was being accomplished around him.

As a young man, Schokmiller worked at the Central Type Foundry. This foundry was the first to engrave matrices by machine, in 1882.

Schokmiller's time at Central must have been brief, as he was apprenticed/employed elsewhere through 1891, and Central was amalgamated into American Type Founders in 1892. However, the Central pantograph was acquired by Schroeder, who went into partnership with Werner in an independent commercial engraving firm (1889). Werner later (1891) continued on his own (possibly with the same machine) after Schroeder moved to California. Since Werner was the person who brought Schokmiller's pantograph to England, it would seem likely that he was aware of the Central machine.

The Inland Type Founders of St. Louis also developed a pantograph engraving machine, which they exported to Genzsch & Heyse in Germany. Schokmiller worked for Inland during some part of the period between 1895 (when Inland was founded) to 1904 (when he set up on his own).

During the period in which he was a principal in the Western Type Founders of St. Louis, Schokmiller worked extensively with the great Chicago typographical engraver Robert Wiebking. Wiebking, together with his partner Hardinge, had been developing a pantograph engraving machine since the early 1890s (inspired by a machine that Wiebking's father had brought from Germany in the 1880s). The Western Type Foundry purchased both the Advance Type Foundry of Wiebking and Hardinge and also (possibly in a separate transaction) the plant of Wiebking, Hardinge & Co. in 1913. However, as tantalizing as this is, I presently know of no evidence of any association between Wiebking and Schokmiller prior to 1906. Wiebking was also notoriously secretive about his equipment.

A a final (and unlikely) long-shot, Schokmiller also worked for some time in the 1891-1904 timeframe for the Keystone Type Founders (Keystone was based in Philadelphia and I have no evidence that Schokmiller left St. Louis; I am guessing that they must have had a St. Louis selling house?) James W. Lewis patented three pantographs in the 1903-1906 timeframe. Two were vertical-format and so not significant here. The third was horizontal format and was assigned to the Keystone Type Foundry. (US patent 839,011, issued 1906-12-18 but filed 1905-11-27).

Of course, by 1906 there were a number of typographical pantograph engraving machine designs in commercial use. The one not yet mentioned that would have been closest, geogrpahically, to Schokmiller in St. Louis was the Dedrick machine used at Barnhart Brothers & Spindler in Chicago.


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