Ludlow Matrix Identification

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1. Ludlow Matrix Identification

Ludlow matrices manufactured by the Ludlow Typograph Company are identified by a pattern of lines on the matrix "reference" side (the side you look at; opposite the casting side). There will be one line across the matrix on the bottom part of this side. This line indicates the size of the type body in points. There will be one or more lines in a pattern on the top part of this side. The pattern of lines here encodes the typeface.

On the positive side, Ludlow matrices are easier to read than Linotype matrices because the typeface encoding really does encode the typeface (whereas the "triangle" numbers on Linotype matrices do not). On the negative side, you need a special gauge to read the pattern. Worse, you need a chart to interpret the gauge's reading. Ludlow did not publish the matrix identification line patterns in their typeface specimen books. (The alphanumeric type series identifiers published in the specimen books are not the matrix identification lines.)

The original Ludlow matrix gauge is not shown in the manuals. It is part number T-4600 "Matrix Identification Gauge." Mine is stainless steel. I will not willingly admit how much I paid for it; suffice it to say that the reproductions in brass by Don Black and Dave Seat (see below) are quite reasonably priced!

Don Black Linecasting (Canada) carries a booklet entitled Ludlow Matrix Gauge Chart and Instruction Sheet which, along with a matrix gauge, is his Hot Metal Item No. 262, "Ludlow Mat Identification Chart and Gauge."

Dave Seat has also carried this as well.

If you're serious about Ludlows, then support your Ludlow service professionals and buy the gauge and book. They're necessary. So are the people you're buying them from.

Note that the standard roman/italic gauge does not work with the "extreme italic" matrices used for a few scripts.

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