The Barth Type Caster

Mold Identification

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1. Prerequisite Knowledge

In order to work comfortably with the ATF mold identification data, it is good to have a general knowledge of the history of 19th and early 20th century type foundries. The best source for this is Maurice Annenberg's book Type Foundries of America and their Catalogs {Annenberg 1994}. But while everyone interested in typefounding should have this book, it presents quite a bit of information not strictly necessary to identifying a mold. It also misses some foundries judged to be less important (such as Schokmiller's Western Type Foundry, which does appear in the ATF mold data).

For a briefer account of the merger of 23 of these foundries into ATF, their subsequent consolidation into eight manufacturing foundries, and the later acquisition of other foundries, see ../../ History [of the Barth Type Caster] -> ATF and the Early Barth.

But for the hasty, all that is strictly necessary is an understanding of the eight manufacturing foundries into which ATF consolidated by 1895, and their letter designations, and the foundries acquired after this point (and the history of some of the prior acquisitions of these acquired foundries - BB&S in particular). This is the constituent foundry information which is reflected in the identification of molds and matrices. For a survey of this see ../ ATF Constituent Foundries. (Note that it is not necessary to know the numeric designations of the 23 original foundries.)

For quick reference, the eight manufacturing foundries into which ATF consolidated in the circa 1895-1906 timeframe, with their letter designations, are:

The Bruce Type Foundry (New York) was acquired in 1901 (before the consolidation into a single Central Plant) and was assigned the letter 'J'.

Foundries acquired later were identified by their names, not by letter designations. In the case of foundries acquired through BB&S (Inland, Western) the names of the acquired foundries were used (that is, Inland and Western, distinct from BB&S). The foundries acquired after 1901 which are referenced in the mold data are:

Note that the Western Type Foundry is not the Great Western Type Foundry of Barnhart Brothers & Spindler.

The Laclede foundry was acquired by BB&S in 1923 (when BB&S was owned by ATF), but does not seem to appear in the mold data. It was not noted for original faces.

2. Data

In Practical Typecasting ( {Rehak 1993}, which everyone seeking to operate a Barth should have in hand), Rehak presents an interesting and dense, if slightly cryptic chart of ATF mold data on pp. 188-190. Pull out your copy of Practical Typecasting and open it to page 188.

Keep in mind that the mold information presented is for all ATF molds, both for pivotal casters and Barth casters. Pivotal casters were an important part of the ATF operation throughout its entire history.

This chart consists of representations of the nick side of the mold, in the standard range from 6 to 144 point. The molds in each size are presented in a single line, showing graphically the nick(s) and the height of the mold.

Each mold shown also has between two and four items of data written on it. Confusingly, these are identified as only three (not four) fields. From top to bottom these are identified as "MAT DEPTH", "NAME", and "MOLD NO." I find it easiest to treat these fields "outside in": first the Mold No., then the Mat Depth, and finally the more confusing mold "Name".

The "Mold No." usually uniquely identifies the mold. (But sometimes it is absent, and in a few instances it is not unique.) The mold numbers are (mostly) unique only within a particular body (point) size. Thus, my 60 point Barth has a tag on it which reads "6003". This indicates that it is equipped with a 60 point mold of style "03". We can look this up in the table and see that there is precisely one such mold. However, there are many "03" molds, none of which necessarily bear any relation to the 60 pt 03 mold.

For an example of a mold number which is not unique within a single body size, see 72 pt mold no. 04, which is used for three molds: "B4" and "AB" (both 0.1241 drive) and BRUCE (0.1154 drive).

Sometimes the Mold No. is absent (it is not present for almost all of the Keystone molds and for one Philadelphia mold). In these cases, the mold Name must suffice to identify it.

The Matrix Depth is straightforward: it is the depth-of-drive of the matrix intended to be used for the mold in casting modern American height type. It is expressed in decimal inches to four places, and there is always a Matrix Depth specified for each mold. Type Height - Matrix Depth = Mold Height (which is also shown graphically in the chart), but see Type Height and Its Tolerances.

The mold "NAME" field is the complicated one. It has up to two components, either of which may be missing. I find it easiest to understand by considering examples.

Look at the very first item in the 6 point line (p. 188). This is 6 pt mold no. 64, with a matrix depth of 0.0430. It has a mold name of "4E" and a foundry designation "BB&S". In this case this is redundant information, since there is no other 6pt "4E" mold. But if one looks further along the line, there are two instances of a 6pt "O5" mold: No. 02 ("O5", "S.L.") and No. 35 ("O5", "Inland"). In these cases both the mold name and the foundry name are necessary.

At other times only the foundry name is present. Example: 6pt molds nos. 26 and 27, which are both from "CIN" (the Cincinnati foundry as consolidated). The foundry names used are historically inconsistent. Names such as "Farmer" and "Bruce" are self-explanatory; these were foundries which were absorbed after the initial consolidation. Names like "B-1" are also clear after one understands the process of consolidation: foundry 'B' was the consolidated New York operation, which consisted primarily of the materials of James Conner's Sons and Benton, Waldo & Co. But the presence of names such as "CIN" (Cincinnati, foundry 'D'), "PHILA" (Philadelphia, foundry 'C'), and "BSN" (Boston?, foundry 'A') is strange, as these foundries all had been assigned single-letter codes. Stranger still is the presence of "CE" (presumably Central) and "SL" (presumably Saint Louis) where one would expect foundry code 'F' (Saint Louis). I am guessing (and it is only a guess that the materials consolidated from the Central Type Foundry and the Saint Louis Type Foundry were distinct enough that they needed separate designations.

Through 12 point, this pattern is relatively consistent. But starting with 14 point there is a change. Some of the 14 point mold entries are like those seen earlier. For example, mold no. 08 is mold "7-2" from "CHI[cago]". But most molds are identified only by their foundry name ("BRUCE", "PHILA", etc.) Mold no. 04 presents a new case - one which will appear frequently in the larger sizes. It is named only "B-2", and this name appears on the same line as the foundries.

From this point on, molds named only "B-2", "B-3", "B-4" and "A B" appear frequently. The "B-n" molds, at least, originate with foundry 'B' (New York). Fortunately, Rehak has reprinted a page of detailed mold specifications prepared by the Dale Guild in 1895. This identifies these foundry B molds (and various "STL" molds) and gives the ranges of body sizes for which they were used ( {Rehak 1993}, p. 183).

Finally, 18pt mold no. 31 has an unusual foundry name: "SM CAP". I presume that this indicates "small caps," rather than naming a foundry.

I have transcribed the mold information from this chart, omitting the graphical presentation and the information on the nick(s). Here it is in PDF format: atf-mold-identification.pdf Here is the original LibreOffice Calc format spreadsheet: atf-mold-identification.ods