American Wood Type
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Of the four methods used to commercially produce wood type, the end-cut method produced the majority of type in the Collection. Also included are examples of veneer and die-cut types, two other production-method categories. However, while Kelly described the process referred to as celluloid or enameled, the collection lacks examples of types made by that process.
All manufacturers used the end-cut method; it consisted of routing the negative shape around a letter out of the face of a type-high block of
hardwood. The combination of the router and the pantograph in 1834 allowed for the mass mechanical production of wood type. Veneer types were only produced by the Hamilton Manufacturing Co. J.E. Hamilton invented the process in 1880. Though a major innovation, it was only used until about 1890. Die-cut types were produced by the William H. Page Wood Type Co. Though the die-cut process had been used in rudimentary form as early as 1828, William Page and George Setchell patented improvements to the die-cut
process between 1887 and 1889. After the acquisition of the William H. Page Wood Type Co. in 1891, Hamilton continued using this method until around 1906. The celluloid or enameled wood type production method involved facing the wood block with a thin sheet of celluloid to produce a coated printing surface. Celluloid type was produced by either (1) fusing the wood block with celluloid then routing through the coated surface and wood together, or (2) die-cutting and hot-pressing a layer of celluloid into the surface of a wood block to cut the letter and seal the surface simultaneously.
After 1906, all remaining wood type manufacturers produced wood type by the end-cut method, until the decline of the industry at the twentieth century’s end.
Method of Making Wood Type.
G. C. Setchell, assignee. Patent 389,112. 1888.