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You are here: Home / Conferences / Antwerp 2018 / Programme

The Benton Engraver, making type today at Project Letter-Kunde

When Thu 13 Sep 1830
Where Arenberg Theater
Who Patrick Goossens
The nineteenth century brought on new technologies like electrotyping and mechanical engraving, which had an immense impact on the printing industry as a whole, and particularly on type design. This prompted Harry Carter in his 1937 article, “Optical scale in typefoundry,” to state that when the pantograph first came into use, “the tendency was to show off its marvelous precision,” but that “with all its advantages of speed and low-cost labor, they could do nothing worth while that a hand-cutter could not do.” One of these “iconic” machines, the Benton Engraver, described by Theo Rehak as a “reduction-reproducing, skewed-gimbal engraving device, capable of infinite horizontal proportional adjustment,” has survived the toll of time and is in use here in Antwerp. Using the proper disciplines and protocols, we demonstrate, starting from any design (16th century punch or new), how to make a matrix suited to cast analog type by hand or mechanically. The project unfolds further when comparison is made between the mechanical engraved matrix and its hand-cut counterpart. Every step is explained and positioned in its historical context. Based on Ed Rayher, Swamppress.

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