Mergenthaler Linotype Specimen Books

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Note: For information on matrix identification (numbers and codes), see ../../ Matrix Information and Identification (for Composing Linecasters)

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Specimen Books with Showings

Typographic specimen books come in two general varieties: those which give a more or less complete showing of the typefaces and those which present abbreviated one-line specimens. Both have their place.

This first section covers Mergenthaler Linotype specimen books which have more-than-one-line showings.

[click image to read at The Internet Archive]

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Linotype Faces (1905)

Linotype Faces [on title page]. Linotype Specimen Faces also Borders, Dashes & Rules [on cover]. (NY: Mergenthaler Linotype Company, 1905.) This has been digitized from the University of California copy and is available online at The Internet Archive. The icon at left links to that presentation there. Here are local copies of the color PDF version ( linotypefaces00mergrich.pdf), the black and white PDF version ( linotypefaces00mergrich_bw.pdf), and the DjVu format version ( linotypefaces00mergrich.djvu). Provided that you have a reader installed for it, the DjVu format version is by far the nicest.

[click image to read]

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Linotype Faces (1907)

Linotype Faces [on title page]. Linotype Specimen Faces also Borders, Dashes & Rules [on cover]. This is a local copy of the Google Books PDF.

[click image to read at The Internet Archive]

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The Book of the Matrix (1916)

The Book of the Matrix[:] Announcing Specimen Book of Type Styles . (Brooklyn, NY: Mergenthaler Linotype Company, 1916). While this is in theory a prospectus for a type specimen book, it contains no specimens and little typographical information per se. Rather, it emphasizes the manufacturing capabilities of the Mergenthaler company. 16pp. It contains photographs of the Mergenthaler main office (Tribune Building), selling offices, and Brooklyn plant (exterior and some interior views). Also photos of Linotype Models 16, 17, 18, 19 and 9. Also an intermediate development of the image of "The Hand that Keeps the World Informed."

The icon here links to a presentation of this document at The Internet Archive. Here is a local copy of the PDF (140 Meg; this is a link up-and-over to its actual location in the Linotype sales literature Notebooks): ../../../literature/linotype/sales/general/mlc-1916-announcing-specimen-book-of-type-styles-0600rgbjpg.pdf Thanks are due to Greg Fischer (The Linofish) for preserving this booklet and making it available.

[click image to read at The Internet Archive]

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Linotype Decorative Material (1929 reprint)

Linotype Decorative Material (Brooklyn, NY: Mergenthaler Linotype Company, 1929.) Printing code: 350.01 This 1929 reprint includes the Garamond Decorative Material insert present in the 1928 edition (but, curiously, without a printing code or date for it). It also includes a two-page insert following page 84 of A New Group of Linotype Matrix Slides (printing code 350.012) which was not present in the 1928 edition.

Note: This reprint has known aesthetic/technical issues. I scanned it hastily from a borrowed copy. The copy itself was not in great shape (for example, the cover as it appears in these images is in fact an accurate scan of the cover as it was on the original). Most significantly, at the time I was still scanning "black and white" pages in greyscale. I have since decided that this practice is not appropriate. (There are no true black inks, nor white pages.) Still, it's better than nothing.

The icon above left links to a presentation of this scan at The Internet Archive, where it may be read online. Full-resolution (600dpi) and quarter-resolution (150 dpi effective) versions are also available there for downloading. Here is a local copy of the 600dpi PDF (867 Megabytes): linotype-decorative-material-1929-awm-0600greyjpg.pdf Here is a local copy of the 150dpi PDF (139 Megabytes): linotype-decorative-material-1929-awm-0150greyjpg.pdf

For those who wish the full-resolution (600dpi greyscale) scans but who lack the bandwidth to download an 867 Megabyte file, I've divided it up into 22 smaller PDFs. Their sizes very from 20 Megabytes to 96 Megabytes. These can be downloaded in two places: (1) The Internet Archive on page: (2) Below:

A different digitization of the 1929 reprint of Linotype Decorative Material is online at Bill Spurling's and at Lance Williams' site, The two copies are identical, byte for byte. This version has the advantage of being much smaller (5 Megabytes total), but it is a lower-resolution scan (about 72 dpi) with aggressive JPEG compression and consequent image artifacts, so its image quality may not be sufficient in all cases.

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Linotype Faces ("Big Red"; by 1939)

This is the last large specimen book produced by the Mergenthaler Linotype Company, and arguably the most important one they ever produced. It is known colloquially as "Big Red" (its highest page number is 1215, but it contains more pages than that).

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One-Line Specimen Books

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One-Line Specimens (November, 1920)

[NOT DONE] One-Line Specimens of Linotype Faces. (1920). A different scan of this is online at

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One-Line Specimens (November, 1920)

[NOT DONE] This is the Google Books PDF of the Stanford University copy of One-Line Specimens of Linotype Faces. (November, 1920).

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