The Starr Family

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1. Introduction

Fl. ca. 1806-1881.

This isn't a specific foundry, but rather a family which produced many members who worked in or themselves started significant early American foundries. The six Starr brothers were:

Edwin Starr had two sons, Thomas W. and Phil., who were both involved in typefounding. In 1845, Thomas W. Starr patented the modern method of electroforming matrices - a process which transformed the typefounding industry.

Annenberg calls them the "first family" of American typefounding. He says of Edwin Starr that he "is recognized as the first to regularly engage [in punchcutting as an occupation]" (p. 113) and notes that he was "a communicative person [who] ... as he traveled around the country working in one plant or another ... frankly furnished all the information and technical knowledge he had developed." (p. 112). Clearly Edwin Starr had a great deal to do with the dissemination of typefounding knowledge in America.

Yet Annenberg also says of them "... whenever a plat was established by the Starr brothers, sooner or later and sometimes immediately the sherriff was close behind, ready to pounce and threatening bankruptcy." Annenberg's discussion of the Starr family as such takes place in the context of his discussion of the Collins & M'Leester foundry { Annenberg, 112-115}.

Also, it is well to keep in mind Maurice Annenberg's remark that "There are so many conflicting dates of the varied episodes of the Starr brothers attempts to establish type founding plants that many dates are telescoped together. They were in and out of business like a roller coaster..." ( Type Foundries of America and their Catalogues, p. 230)

2. Names and Associations

The Starr brothers were associated with:

Edwin Starr (d. 1853):

Richard Starr (d. 1849)

James Fosdick Starr (d. 1833):

Henry S. Starr

Charles Starr:

William Starr:

3. Chronology

1805. Edwin Starr said to have conducted espionage on behalf of Elihu White against Binny & Ronaldson.

By 1809. At Elihu White's insistence, Edwin Starr makes hand molds of hardened steel.

1812. Edwin and Richard Starr probably went to NY in the employ of Elihu White.

1814. Ewdin, Richard, and James Fosdick Starr open a type foundry in NY.

18??. Very short partnership with the Bruce brothers as Bruce & Starr (Starrs to provide the Bruces with unbearded type and high spacing for their stereotyping). David Bruce Sr. and George Bruce soon purchase the Starrs' share.

1817 or 1818. Richard Starr and John M. Reich start a type foundry and stereotype plant in Philadelphia (Reich, Starr & Co.)

"About 1823" Edwin and Richard Starr begin a type foundry in Pittsburgh. It does not survive long enough to produce a specimen. David Bruce Jr. claims that Reich was a partner. Peter C. Cortelyou was there as an apprentice. This is the "Pittsburgh Fiasco" the failure of which sent materials to several locations.

After Pittsburgh, but before partnership with Van Benthuysen (see below), Richard Starr, in Albany, sells some of the Pittsburgh matrices to Alonzo W. Kinsley.

1824. Edwin Starr helps establish New England Type Foundry (Baker & Greele), "using some of the drives and molds of the Pittsburgh fiasco."

1825 [Annenberg] or 1829 [Bruce, but dates don't then line up] Alonzo W. Kinsley starts a type foundry in Albany, NY (A. W. Kinsley & Co.) with these ex-Pittsburgh matrices and [Bruce says] material from George Bruce.

"About 1824" or in 1825, Richard Starr and Obadiah Van Benthuysen start Starr & Van Benthuysen (the Albany Type Foundry) in Albany, NY. Bruce says that this was due to "a misunderstanding" between Alonzo W. Kinsley (who had presumably already started his foundry in Albany).

About 1826. Van Benthuysen sold his interest in Starr & Van Benthuysen to Lemuel Little; foundry continues as Starr & Little.

1826. Edwin Starr with the Boston Type & Stereotype Foundry (ex-White).

1827. Edwin Starr and Stephen Sturdevant collaborate on a type caster for the Boston Type & Stereotype Foundry.

Before 1829 [but this date doesn't line up with White/Lyman cooperation with Richard Starr; see below] Starr & Little closed by sheriff. Materials purchased by Charles Starr and moved to NY.

1829. Charles Starr's ex-Pittsburgh, ex-Albany "matrices and other tools, now in NY, used in Conner foundry. But Annenberg also says that the rest of the Starr & Little plant went in the 1860s [three decades later?] to J. A. Noonan in Milwaukee and later Benton, Waldo & Co.

1829? Richard Starr returns to NY and works for D. & G. Bruce.

1832. A. W. Kinsley dies. Elihu White and Nathan Lyman buy Kinsley's foundry and keep it going for three years in Albany. Annenberg says that they were "cooperating" with Richard Starr (Starr & Little).

1832. Edwin Starr with the Baltimore Type Foundry.

1832. Edwin Starr's method of hardened steel for type molds introduced to the United Kingdom.

1833. James Fosdick Starr dies.

1835. Lyman purchases White's share of Kinsley's foundry and moves to Buffalo. The Buffalo Type Foundry that he starts there survives until the 1892 ATF amalgamation.

1840. Edwin Starr working in Philadelphia "making molds and other fittings for the Dickinson Type Foundry in Boston." (Annenberg p. 115)

1840? Edwin Starr and his son, Thomas W. Starr, begin E. Starr & Son type foundry in Philadelphia.

1841? (one year later) E. Starr & Son start branch in Baltimore.

1845. Thomas W. Starr's patent for electroforming matrices. There had been earlier attempts by Conner, but this is the one that worked. It transformed the industry.

1853. Edwin Starr dies. E. Starr & Son sold to Collins & M'Leester. Amalgamated into ATF in 1892.

1881. Thomas W. Starr dies.

1845. Richard Starr dies.

Finally, Annenberg notes (p. 115) that James Fosdick Starr (d. 1833) worked as a stereotyper in NY, Henry S. Starr (twin brother of Richard) was a punchcutter, and Charles Starr was a stereotyper.

4. Bibliography

{Annenberg 1994} Type Foundries of America and their Catalogues, edited by Stephen O. Saxe (New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll, 1994).

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