Schroeder-Boyer

Typographical Engraving Machine

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There was a third man. He didn't give evidence. - Graham Greene. The Third Man.

1. Context and Problems

The existence of this machine is attested in only one brief comment in one article by N. J. Werner [1] (nevertheless, Werner is a reliable source and he is in this case speaking of a machine that was made for him in his partnership with Schroeder). It was a one-off machine (apparently), and might easily be dismissed as unimportant. Yet it was almost certainly involved in some not unimportant type making work, and its existence might solve a mystery in the history of the type-making activities of both Schroeder and Werner. Unfortunately, the single reference to it is so brief that it isn't even clear what function this machine served (whether it was a pattern or a matrix engraver). Here's what I think I know, in context.

The first typefounder's matrices made by machine (by pantograph) in the US were cut directly as matrices by William A. Schraubstädter at the Central Type Foundry on a horizontal pantograph made originally in Germany (which I am calling, for lack of a real name, the "Central Type Foundry Pantograph." [2] The faces cut were Geometric, Geometric Italic, and Morning Glory. Later, Type Writer was made using the same methods.

Gustave F. Schroeder cut the working patterns for these. [3] It isn't entirely clear how Schroeder cut these patterns - whether by hand engraving, by machine engraving using the Central Type Foundry Pantograph, or by machine engraving using some other, unknown, pantograph. Schroeder was a trained hand engraver who later became a skilled machine engraver, so all of these possibilities are equally likely.

In either 1888 or 1889, Schroeder and Nicholas Werner left the Central Type Foundry to set up in partnership as independent commercial matrix engravers (as Schroeder & Werner). They may have been the first firm of this kind. [4] Both Schroeder and Werner were technically competent, but Schroeder had trained in engraving while Werner had trained in printing. Schroeder, therefore, seems to have guided the technological side of the establishing of their partnership.

He did two things (at least): He purchased the Central Type Foundry Pantograph [5] and he designed and had manufactured a new pantograph. [6] It was manufactured for the partnership of Schroeder & Werner by the Boyer Machine Company in St. Louis. [7] This is the pantograph which is the subject of this present Notebook. It has no name of which I am aware, so I'm calling it the "Schroeder-Boyer" machine after its developer and manufacturer.

What Werner says is: "Later on Mr. Schroeder, with whom I became associated in 1888 at type engraving, had several improvements incorporated in a new engraving machine, which was built for us by the Boyer Machine Company, of Saint Louis, whose head at the time, Joseph Boyer, is now one of the leading men of the Burroughs Adding Machine Company. Mr. Schroder was also the first to apply electric power to such a machine." [7]

In a different article, Werner also remarks that "[Benton's] machine employed what is known technically as the upright pantograph, while the machines used in St. Louis had the flat pantograph. The two principles have about equal use. The upright pantograph, however, produces a certain small amount of distortion of the pattern used, due to swings from a central point, while the flat pantograph has no distortion." [8]

So we do know this about the machine itself:

There is one very important detail, however, which we do not know about this pantograph: whether it was intended/used for engraving working patterns or for engraving matrices (or possibly for both). Neither do we know any actual details of the mechanical features of the machine.

The partnership of Schroeder and Werner did not last long, although there is no indication that its dissolution was unfriendly (Werner speaks very highly of Schroeder in his later writing). In 1891, Schroeder moved to Mill Valley, California. He would have been about 30 years old at the time. He continued, there, engraving matrices as an independent. Werner remained in St. Louis (his later writings are very much those of a partisan of that city). He, too, continued engraving matrices as an independent (at least until he began working for the Inland Type Foundry, founded by the sons of Carl Schraubstädter (of the Central) in 1895, not long after the amalgamation of the Central into ATF.

This raises an obvious question, for which at present I can offer no solution: who got the pantographs?

Werner was trained in hand engraving, and so in principle could have been engraving punches and/or patrices by hand for his type-making in California. But he had been so closely involved with the development of machine engraving, and was the full owner of the Central machine and at least the part owner of the Schroeder-Boyer machine (of his own design). It is hard to imagine him going back to hand techniques.

Werner was not trained in hand engraving. He was technically competent at machine engraving (and in his articles speaks of three instances where he instructed others: Sarah Osborne, the sale of an Inland Pantograph to Genzsch & Heyse, and the sale of the Schokmiller Pantograph to Stephenson, Blake). Presumably he must have had at his disposal after Schroeder's departure pantographic means for both working pattern and matrix engraving.

The fact that Werner continued engraving DeVinne and Victoria Italic after Schroeder's departure further argues that he was working with a pantograph. It is implausible that he was not using the working patterns developed in the Schroeder & Werner partnership. (Though Schroeder also cut a lowercase for Victoria Italic while in California - there is no information as to whether he was using the existing Schroeder & Werner patterns for it, or new patterns, or (as noted) working by hand.)

There really isn't enough to go on here. If one assumes that the Schroeder-Boyer Pantograph was a matrix engraving machine (which I believe is likely) then it is possible that one of the two machines (Central or Schroeder-Boyer) went with Schroeder and the other stayed in St. Louis with Werner. But I wonder if there wasn't a third machine.

2. Notes

1. "Saint Louis' Place on the Type Founders' Map." (1927)

2. See the discussion of typographic engraving pantographs "Beyond (and Before) Benton" for more information.

3. In "St. Louis. Place..." (1927), p. 765, Werner says that Schroeder did all of the pattern-making for Central. In "An Address" to the St. Louis Reprinted by CircuitousRoot in the Notebook on Werner.

4. There may have been others. In 1889, Benton, Waldo & Co. leased patrix (and punch) engraving pantographs to the Minneapolis Electro Matrix Company and the Electro Matrix Engraving Company (NY). But these companies are not now remembered; Schroeder & Werner cut DeVinne, one of the most important typefaces of its day.

Robert Wiebking, who in partnership with Henry H. Hardinge as Wiebking, Hardinge & Co. became the most important independent matrix engraver(s) of the Twentieth century started around 1893.

5. Noted incidentally in Werner's obituary for Robert Wiebking, Wiebking Created... (1932).

6. In "St. Louis. Place..." (1927), p. 765.

7. There is some interesting and interlinked history here as well. Joseph Boyer, while proprietor of the Boyer Machine Company, made prototype adding machines for William S. Burroughs at about this time (early 1880s). Burroughs founded his company as the American Arithmometer Company, in St. Louis. In 1904 the entire company moved to Detroit. At some point, Boyer became president of the company. The Burroughs company was noted for its precision manufacturing capabilities. (A chapter in Goodrich, C. L. and F. A. Stanley, Accurate Tool Work (NY: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1907/1908) is devoted to precision drilling and reaming on Burroughs adding machines. Coincidentally, another chapter of the same book is devoted to the Lanston Monotype Machine Company's use of the microscope for matrix inspection.)

Charles H. Schokmiller, who later made and sold a pantograph matrix engraving machine of his own also worked for American Arithmometer at a slightly later date (at some point between 1891 and 1904).

8. In An Address by N. J. Werner of St. Louis. (ca. 1931) , which was reprinted as "St. Louis in Type-Founding History" (1941).

3. Bibliography

Werner, N. J. "Saint Louis' Place on the Type Founders' Map." The Inland Printer. Vol. 79, No. 5 (Aug. 1927): 764-766.

Reprinted by CircuitousRoot in the Notebook on Werner.

Werner, N. J. An Address by N. J. Werner of St. Louis. St. Louis: [St. Louis Club of Printing House Craftsmen, 1931.

Reprinted by CircuitousRoot in the Notebook on Werner. This article is substantially the same as its 1941 reprint as "St. Louis in Type-Founding History" ( see below).

Werner, N. J. "St. Louis in Type-Founding History," Share Your Knowledge Review, Vol. 22, No. 3 (January 1941): 21-26.

Reprinted by CircuitousRoot in the Notebook on Werner. This article is substantially the same as its circa 1931 version delivered as "An Address" to the St. Louis Club of Printing House Craftsmen ( see above).

Werner, N. J. "Wiebking Created Popular Faces in Chicago, Friend Discloses" The Inland Printer Vol. 90, No. 2 (November 1932): 71-73.


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