History of Monotype explored in new book


A new book charting the history of Monotype has been published, and includes a dedication to the late PrintWeek columnist and print historian Lawrence Wallis.

The History of the Monotype Corporation has been authored by Judy Slinn, Sebastian Carter and Richard Southall and edited by Andrew Boag and Christopher Burke.

It is published by Boag’s Vanbrugh Press in association with the Printing Historical Society.

At the launch event on 13 November, Boag, who is also a former Monotype employee, said: “The role Monotype played in the development of the communications industry is huge, and it continues today.

“Monotype’s fortunes, like many technology companies, have peaked and troughed.”

The book has been 20 years in the making. Wallis, who worked at Monotype in the 1960s, was originally enlisted as a contributor. He died in 2008.

In his dedication, Boag said: “If we had delivered a book sooner his name would be on the title page. That not being the case, we would like to dedicate the work to him. We miss his helpful, unfailing support.”

American inventor Tolbert Lanston patented his Monotype composing system in 1897. As well as the Monotype Caster, and subsequent Lasercomp systems, the firm was also renowned for its typefaces (a part of the business that continues to this day).

The book is split into three areas, the business history of Monotype is covered by Slinn, Carter examines the typeface side of the corporation, while Southall focuses on the technical aspects of its composing machines.

Slinn’s research has unearthed little-known facts, such as the Monotype board secretly considering a merger with arch-rival Linotype in 1907/08.

The 432pp hardback includes mono and colour illustrations. Dorchester’s Henry Ling printed the book, while the Monotype-set dust jacket was printed by Hand & Eye Letterpress in London.

It costs £50. For more information visit www.vanbrughpress.com.

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