The Pivotal Type Caster

Robinson's 1879 Drawing

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The drawing above was published in the 1880 Boston Type Foundry specimen book, Original Faces Cast by the Boston Type Foundry . Fortunately, we know more about this image from a modern source. In her blog for 2010-01-03, Lois Elling, the great-grandaughter of the man who drew this image, identifies it and identifies the casterman shown at the lower right in the image as her great grandfather William A. Robinson, Sr. ( This identification means that this drawing has the distinction of being the only published drawing of a pivotal caster in the 19th or 20th centuries to be drawn by someone who actually operated the machine as their trade. Its claim to accuracy is considerable. What strikes me most about this image is that Robinson depicts his caster as discharging its types to its front, into a hand-held type tray - that's going to get heavy after a while!

The image as presented here is from the Google Books scan of the NY Public Library copy, as presented by The Hathi Trust (Hathi ID: nyp.33433006350783).

There are, however, three ways to view this image which are better than the rather muddy Google scan reprinted above.

First, Lois Elling has reproduced it from her own copy, on her blog at

Second, Stephen O. Saxe has reproduced it from his own copy of the 1880 Boston specimen book, on his flickr photostream at:

Finally, this image is used on the dust jacket and title page of Bob Mullen's book Recasting a Craft: St. Louis Typefounders Respond to Industrialization (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2005). This is a book that you should have in any case.

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