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The keyboard and the Monotype moulding machine

Stabilimento Tipografico “Pliniana”

The Monotype was designed in Washington by Tolbert Lanston (1844-1913) in 1889 and involved a mechanical procedure to punch out the printed letters from strips of unheated metal, also known as typesetting.

The Monotype machine is more complex than the Linotype in that it is made up of keyboard and a moulding machine that communicate through a ribbon of perforated paper. The latter sends the command to the matrix case which positions itself in correspondence with the matrix required. At this point the liquid metal is cast creating one character at a time and, automatically, characters and spacing come together on just one line. Although slower than the Linotype, with which it is possible to get only a block of writing lines, with the Monotype it is possible to extract and substitute single characters for the correction or to insert special characters, such as mathematical formulas or language texts.

The boxes of matrixes kept on the shelves of the Stabilimento Tipografico “Pliniana” still bear the name Monotype Corporation Ltd. Salford Redhill Surrey imprinted on them, the company responsible for design in the typographic field, particularly the creation of print characters and the planning and production of many fonts in the nineteenth and twentieth century: the most well known font being Times New Roman.

At Pliniana both the Monotype keyboard and the moulding machine are still usable. They date back to 1955 and were built at the London company British Rotherm Co. Ltd. When at its busiest, Pliniana owned a good four keyboards and three Monotype casing machines.