[US] North-Western Type Foundry [Benton et. al.]

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1. Overview

1873-1892. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with offices in St. Paul, Minnesota.

In 1873 the Northwestern Type Foundry was purchsed from J. A. Noonan by Linn Boyd Benton and Edward Cramer. Cramer retired in a year and in 1874 Frank M. Gove took his place. {Cost}, p. 37 indicates that Benton & Gove changed the name to "The North-Western Type Foundry." Gove died 1882. His place was taken by Robert VanValkenburgh Waldo. At some point it began to be known under its corporate name, rather than a foundry name: "Benton, Waldo & Co." The company merged into American Type Founders at its creation in 1892.

The North-Western Type Foundry and Benton, Waldo & Co. were relatively small enterprises which would merit little attention were it not for Linn Boyd Benton himself.

In the 1880s he was best known for the system of unit-set types which he developed and marketed under the trade name "Self Spacing Type." While he was not the first to suggest unit-set type (though he may have come to the idea independently), he was the only one to produce it on any commercial scale. Benton explained his system at least twice: in an 1886 Inland Printer advertisement and in an 1886 or 1887 specimen booklet. For more on this subject, see the CircuitousRoot Notebook on Unit-Set Type.

The justification (no pun intended) for unit-set type was speed in hand typesetting. This need disappeared with the introduction of practical machine composition in the 1890s. Benton's Self Spacing Type is now just a footnote in the history of type. However, the several pantograph engraving machines that he developed have earned him an important place in the history of type-making. Once again, Benton was not the first (the Central Type Foundry began cutting matrices directly by pantograph in 1882 ), but his machines were very influential. These included a patrix and punch engraving pantograph which was cutting punches in steel by 1884, a matrix engraving pantograph in 1899, and a most remarkable "opto-mechanical" pantograph for scaling and transforming letterform designs from both drawings and existing types. For more on these, see the CircuitousRoot Notebooks on The Benton Pantographs.

2. Specimen Books

[click image to read at The Internet Archive]

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Self Spacing Type, Booklet (1886/1887)

Benton's Self Spacing Type: Typographic Specimens . (Milwaukee, WI: Benton, Waldo & Co., circa 1886 or 1887). This specimen booklet shows (only) the unit-set type developed by Linn Boyd Benton under the trade name "Self Spacing" type. It is undated, but loosely slipped into it is a page listing users of "Benton's Self Spacing Type" which has on its back a manuscript letter to Benton, Waldo & Co. dated Dec. 18, 1886. A portion of the text of this letter would seem to be the original copy for the showing of Self Spacing Old Style Italic on page 14 of this specimen booklet.

This booklet was scanned by Stephen O. Saxe from a copy in his collection. Additional image processing by Dr. David M. MacMillan. Reprint published by CircuitousRoot for Stephen O. Saxe.

The icon at left links to a presentation of this specimen at The Internet Archive, where it may be read online. Here is a local copy of the PDF (157 Megabytes): benton-waldo-specimen-booklet-1886-sos-0600dpijpg.pdf

[click image to read]

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"Explanation" (extract from the above)

This is a PDF of the two pages which give the "Explanation of the Principle of Benton's Self Spacing Type," extracted from the "Benton's Self Spacing Type" specimen book reprinted above. Together with the 1886 Inland Printer advertisement "Self Spacing Type" (below), it is one of the primary published explanations of the system.

The presentations of and from this specimen booklet at the Internet Archive and in the PDF above are of (lossy) JPEG conversions of the original (lossless) TIFF-format page scans. For most ordinary viewing purposes, they should be more than sufficient. However, since Benton, Waldo material is scarce, for those who require lossless versions of the original scans, here they are (converted losslessly from TIFF to PNG). Each PNG file is about 35 Megabytes.

3. Advertisements

[click image to read]

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"Self Spacing Type" (1886)

Benton, Waldo & Co. "Self Spacing Type." This piece is written as if it was an article, but it is in fact an advertisement (probably paid) and simultaneously a type specimen. It appeared in the type specimen section of The Inland Printer, Vol. 4, No. 3 (December, 1886): 180. Together with a section in the 1886 or 1887 "Benton's Self Spacing Types" specimen booklet , it is one of the primary published explanations of the system.

The icon at left links to a PDF. Here is the original PNG-format image of the page: inland-printer-v04n03-1886-12-uw-0600grey-0180.png Scanned by DMM from an original at the University of Wisconsin.

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