Monotype Casting Literature Online

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Historical and contemporary technical literature and information about Monotype composing and non-composing casting machinery is online in several locations. As it can sometimes be hard to find, here's an annotated account of what I know presently to be available.

(The Internet is a moving target. The links here were current in early April, 2013. They're sure to break over time. It is a great irony that, in its own small way, hot metal will outlive all current web technologies.)

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I. Websites

1. Alembic Press (& )

David and Claire Bolton run an independent fine press in England which includes a Monotype casting plant (Composition Casters and a Supercaster).

The Press' website is:

Views of their casting operation are at:

They have a compendium of information on their Press website at:

More recently, David Bolton has put much of this information on a site of its own with an easily remembered name:

The Alembic Press information tends toward immediately useful things, such as lists of Monotype metal typefaces, stopbar and other data, lubrication and temperature data, and (most important for the bibliographer) lists of Monotype publications.

No mention of the Alembic Press could be complete, though, without reference to something not quite Monotype-related: their exhaustive collection of typecase lays. See:

2. Bill Welliver

The American private typefounder William Welliver has digitized a number of Lanston Monotype publications. These are available via his site at:

(Click on the "Manuals and Documentation" link.)

Bill also maintains a mailing list for Monotype and other typecasting (available via the same site). At the time of writing, there is very little traffic on this list, but that that's only because nobody's been posting.

In addition, Bill has designed and implemented a computer interface for the Composition Caster which has been quite well received and which requires no modifications to the Caster itself. (Information is available on his site; click on the "monotype software introduction" link.)

3. Harry McIntosh (Speedspools)

Harry McIntosh, of Speedspools in Edinburgh, Scotland, does not have a website. However, one of his customers, The Old School Press, has a page devoted to him at:

On this page (lower right corner) you'll find a link to a video on YouTube which shows McIntosh's "MacTronic" computer interface to the Composition Caster in action.

See also the "mac2cast" section in the links to Video Online, below".

4. International Monotype Memory Project

The International Monotype Memory Project, based in Switzerland, has digitized a number of Monotype documents, including various French-language Keyboard and Caster manuals.


5. Skyline Type Foundry

Schuyler Shipley, proprietor of Skyline Type Foundry and master of all aspects of the Thompson Type-Caster maintains a "Thompson Tech" page on his website, at:

6. Modern Analyses

While much of the literature of interest to the practical Monotype casting enthusiast consists of older material digitized or otherwise reprinted, there are a few new works on the Monotype system.

Daniel Rhatigan, who is now a Type Director at the "Monotype Studio" design division within Monotype Imaging wrote his 2007 M.A. thesis in Typeface Design (University of Reading) on "Tthe Monotype 4-Line System for Setting Mathematics." This is online in the "TypeCulture" website, in the Articles & Essays section, at: (but their server isn't actually going to let you get the thesis directly; you have to go through the "Articles & Essays" page).

7. CircuitousRoot

In my own work, I've had the opportunity to scan a number of Lanston Monotype and related source materials. They may not always be as easy to locate on my website,, as one might wish. There are two reasons for this. One is simply that the website has at times grown in unexpected directions. I have hesitated to move materials once their location has been established, even though later logic might suggest it. The other reason is that my primary orientation is not that of a printer but of a mechanic and enthusiast for equipment and technical processes. So my underlying organization will always be by technology rather than use. There is a logic to my website - really, there is. It just may not be the logic you expect.

Here, then, are pointers directly into areas of interest to the Monotype hot metal enthusiast:

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II. Other Resources

8. Video Online

There's more video of Monotype caster operation online than one might think. It's worth simply searching on online video services such as YouTube and Vimeo. The items noted here are just a sampling.

8.1. Edinburgh City of Print (Speedspools, &c.)

The "Edinburgh City of Print" joint project of the Edinburgh City Museums and the Scottish Archive of Print and Publishing History Records (SAPPHIRE) has several videos online on YouTube showing Harry McIntosh at Speedspools in 1996 and 2009. These are interesting not only because they show (and explain) the operation of the Keyboard and Composition Caster but also because they show, briefly, the way in which McIntosh rigged a Monotype paper tape punch unit from a Monophoto machine to a personal computer to bypass the Monotype Keyboard and punch tape for the caster from the computer.

There are several ways to access this. The main page for Speedspools in the "Edinburgh City of Print" project is at:

I believe that this contains a gallery of images presented via an Adobe Flash player, but as is often the case with that technology, it doesn't seem to work (under Firefox, and is unsupported in an iOS environment). However, if you click on the "To Learn More about Speedspools" link, you get to a page about Speedspools with a 2:35 minute audio clip (presented as a video, hosted by YouTube) of Harry McIntosh explaining his history in printing and casting. This page is accessible directly at:

Note, though, that this "audio as video clip" may not load correctly (more Adobe Flash issues). If you track it down directly as hosted on YouTube, it might work better. On YouTube, it is at:

On this page, in turn, if you click on the "More information on Speedspools Films" link, you get to a page with four films of operations at Speedspools (three from 1996, one from 2009). This page may be reached directly at:

The four films themselves are hosted on YouTube, and may be seen there directly at:

The Edinburgh City of Print project also has what appears to be vintage (but color) film of Monotype Keyboard and Composition Caster operation at the firm of R & R Clarks. This is online on YouTube (user: "citymus") under the title "monotype machines in operation at R & R Clarks": Although they have a page for R & R Clarks (, I'm not yet sure where the Edinburgh City of Print site links to this Youtube presentation.

In general, their entire site and their YouTube "channel" are both worth exploring for related material:

8.2. Alembic Press

In 2008 Ricky Lee Brawn filmed about four minutes of operation of Monotype Composition Caster at The Alembic Press (the films is titled "Alembic Press Monocaster"). This is online on YouTube in the account of user "tigersevenfifty" at:

8.3. C. C. Stern Type Foundry

Jeff Shay, of the C.C. Stern Type Foundry, shot and produced a video of first run of their restored Lanston Monotype Type-&-Rule Caster on Vimeo, at:

Chris Chen, also of the Stern Type Foundry, has a video of the first run of their Composition Caster. On YouTube, at: He's also got some footage of the Keyboard at work:

8.4. Hand & Eye Letterpress

Hand and Eye Letterpress (UK), have a video on YouTube showing a Supercaster casting leads:

8.5. mac2cast

YouTube user "mac2cast" has several videos online showing the operation of Harry McIntosh's "Mactronic" computer interface for the Composition Caster. See:

8.6. M&H

The December 29, 2000 edition of "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer" on PBS contained a 10 minute segment on the Arion Press' production of the Arion Press Folio Bible.

Regrettably, the link to this video on M&H website ( ) is dead. However, it is on YouTube on the channel of user "mirabile123" at:

This same YouTube channel also has (at least) three other related videos, including an extract from the "OpenBook" program on the A&E Network (February 2001) "M&H Type Foundry & Arion Press Tour: Part 2 - Monotype Foundry & Pressroom."

These of course include much more than simply their casting machinery.

8.7. Other Video

There's a 6 minute Spanish-langauge video from 1991 showing a Type-&-Rule Caster in operation, casting from display matrices (with the sound of a Composition Caster running in the background, I think) in the YouTube account of user "IntertipoC4" at"

I've also got a bit of sometimes vertigo-inducing hand-held camera video of Monotype-Thompson Type-Caster in operation (run by me, as an apprentice) at Skyline Type Foundry. It's not "streaming" (that is, you have to download it and view it offline), but it does show the Thompson in production. See:

9. Searching Electronic Archives

A few Lanston Monotype documents are available via various more or less well established electronic archives. For each, though, there are things which must be taken into account.

9.1. Google

Google's project to scan every document in the world is the easiest to search, but it has certain limits inherent in its nature.

First, Google is scanning very, very quickly. At times, inevitably, they miss things.

Second, they are scanning for the purpose not of preserving books but of recording searchable text. This is important to realize; it is not, primarily, a digital archive, even though we may treat it as such. Their scans therefore typically do not include fold-out plates. For technical documentation, this is a serious problem.

Third, for these same reasons their scans are done at a minimal resolution.

Fourth, they are attempting to be legal everywhere, and do not have the resources to track down individual copyrights. So, for example, while most technical books published in the US through middle of the 20th century have in fact lapsed into the public domain (but do not assume! you must check each instance individually) only those published prior to 1923 are certainly so. Moreover, some books may be viewable in the US but not elsewhere. (This is the case, for example, for Legros & Grant's Typographical Printing Surfaces, which is in the public domain in the US but is of unknown copyright status in the UK as nobody knows when John Cameron Grant died.) So, frustratingly, Google Books scans may be incomplete, unreadable, or unavailable.

Still, given the depth of their project, it is the natural first stop. I don't wish to be seen as "Google-bashing" here. Google's project is to make the world searchable, and Google Books is doing a remarkable job as a part of this. It's just that Google Books is not a project to digitally archive books; we are the ones who misunderstand it if we think that it is such.

Google Books is best searched via their "Advanced Search" page at:

Note in particular that the Google Books scan of the 1912 edition of The Monotype System is incomplete. I've rectified this by adding scans from my own copies, at:

9.2. The Hathi Trust

The Hathi Trust is a consortium of university libraries, most (all?) of which are also libraries which have contracted with Google to allow Google Books digitizations. On the Hathi Trust website/archive they present "their" copies of these digitizations. So if a text is available through Google Books, it may also be available via The Hathi Trust.

There are three advantages to The Hathi Trust versions.

There are two disadvantages:

9.3. The Internet Archive

From the point of view of the preservation of texts, The Internet Archive ( ) is a marvel. They're doing just about everything right.

They're doing scanning on their own (which are typically of high quality, save for one project to OCR texts which happened to scan several texts not suitable for OCR, such as the 1923 ATF specimen). They're also archiving or mirroring archives for a number of other scanning projects. These include Microsoft's now-defunct attempt to go up against Google Books (mostly scanning Univ. of California texts, it seems), as well as scanning projects from the Library of Congress, the DuPont Winterthur Museum Library, Cornell University, various Canadian Universities, and others. (They also mirror many Google Books scans.) Non-Google-mirrored scans at the Internet Archive are typically (not always, but typically) of much higher quality than Google scans of the same documents.

So if the quality of the digitization is important, it is almost always worth checking to see if there is a non-Google scan of the document available from The Internet Archive.

If on the other side of the coin you have a scan of a public domain text that you wish to put online, but do not have the knowledge or resources to do so, The Internet Archive provides free hosting with an excellent interface (both for the uploader and the reader). A text uploaded to it is also slightly more "durable" in this ephemeral electronic world than one on a private website.

(Many of the documents I've scanned for CircuitousRoot are hosted on The Internet Archive. I find that this has an additional advantage. I like to scan at a resolution of at least 600dpi. But even when converted to JPEG, 600dpi scans of books often can run to over a Gigabyte. This is far too large for most people to download. But if I take the time to upload it to the IA (letting it run overnight), it can be read online easily through their interface.)

10. Commercial Services

It is perhaps not inappropriate to note that Monotype-based composition services are still available from the following (and more, I'm sure):

There are of course a number of other private typefoundries and presses (such as Alembic) casting composed matter for their own use. Moreover, most of the independent type foundries today use some form of Monotype equipment (Monotype-Thompson, Type-&-Rule Caster, Giant Caster, Supercaster) in their work. For a list of currently operating commercial type foundries, see:

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