Mahr. The Hand Typecaster

(NY, Spiral Press, 1937)

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This is a woodcut by Karl Mahr as published in the Bauer Type Foundry book Human Touch. (NY: The Spiral Press, 1937). This engraving appeared originally in Der Druckbuchstabe: Sein Werdegang in der Schriftgießerei dargestellt in Holzschnitten und Versen . ([no location, but Mahr in Frankfurt a. M.]: Verein Deutscher Schriftgießereien E.D., 1928). Go up one level for a discussion of this work as a whole, and for general works on type-making.

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The image above is a reduced-scale version of the original scan. It is 2048 pixels wide, and quite enough for most purposes. Here is a full-resolution version (79 Megabytes): bauer-human-touch-1937-1200rgb-hand-typecaster-crop-6700x7600.png

This engraving depicts the casting of letterpress printing types by hand. Mahr's woodcuts were intended to give a comprehensive look at the typefounder's art, past and present. The hand casting of type for production would have been quite rare at this time. However, the hand casting of type during the process of justifying matrices remained an integral part of type-making. The presence of a file for dressing type and a loupe for examining it suggests that this casterman might be engaged in this process (although by this date the use of a Justifier's Force Pump (see Williams) was common).

Below is an annotated version identifying the tools shown.

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1. Boxes under the bench. Purposes unknown to me.

2. A Matrix.

3. A Loupe for examining type cast.

4. A Melting Pot for (and filled with molten) Typemetal.

5. A Ladle.

6. A Gas Burner for the Melting Pot. This burner puzzles me, because two hoses are shown. This implies that it is not a naturally aspirated "Bunsen" style of burner, but rather one with a supply of air or, less likely, oxygen. While such an air or oxygen supply would increase the temperature of the burner, naturally aspirated burners are more than sufficient to melt typemetal.

7. Papers on the bench. Purpose unknown to me.

8. Types which have been cast, with their Jets still present.

9. A file for "rubbing" or dressing the cast type.

10. A Hand Mold.

11. The Bow of the Hand Mold. The Bow is an integral part of the Mold; it is basically a large spring used to hold the Matrix in place.

12. Lack of a Glove. I am told by modern practitioners of the art of hand typecasting that a long glove or gauntlet on the hand holding the Mold is a wise precaution against burns.

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Williams Engineering Co., Ltd. Type Founders' Equipment (London: The Williams Engineering Co., Ltd., 1919)

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