Experience the glory days of hot metal with a working linotype machine. Watch lines of type being cast. See the impression being made. Take away your own unique example of hot metal typography.
The last of the hot metal typesetting machines in EC1 fell silent in 1987 when the Guardian moved to photo composition from linotype. After a gap of nearly 30 years, hot metal is returning to EC1. Prelogram is carefully shipping one its monumental linotype machines from Hebden Bridge to London and, all being well, commissioning it for the start of Clerkenwell Design Week.
First developed in 1890, linotypes were the biggest advance in printing since Gutenberg’s movable type 450 years earlier. They were as disruptive a force then as the internet is today and unleashed a wave of technological and economic change that transformed human societies. Mechanical typesetting was over six times as quick as setting type by hand and a fraction of the cost. It led to an explosion in printed material and literacy.
Linotypes revolutionised the newspaper industry almost overnight. They were first introduced in the UK at the Newcastle Chronicle in 1889 and by 1895 every newspaper in Fleet Street was was using mechanical typesetting. The machines ushered in the first mass media. By 1914, 600 newspapers per day were being sold for every 1,000 people in Britain. But the end of hot metal came as quickly as the start – mechanical typesetting disappeared in a few short years in the mid-80s with the introduction of digital photo composition.
Almost all the linotype machines were scrapped as analogue anachronisms in an increasingly digital age.
Over the last five years Prelogram has found, rescued and restored the world’s largest collection of working linotypes at its print operation in Hebden Bridge.
Their installation of the machine for Clerkenwell Design Week is a rare chance to see and celebrate a working linotype in action. Take the opportunity to buy an embossed Prelogram Moleskin as a traditional hot metal typography memento.
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Tuesday 19 May - Thursday 21 May
11am - 7pm
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