Pouchée [Ponchée?] (1823)

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1. Introduction

This casting machine is not mentioned by Huss { Dr. Church's "Hoax" }, even though it is roughly contemporary with Dr. Church.

To find:

2. GB Patent Abridgment

The Abridgment of the Specification for GB patent No. 4850 of 1823-10-09 by Louis John Ponchée [sic] for "Certain machinery or apparatus to be employed in the casting of metal types" was reprinted in { Patents for Inventions: Abridgments of Specifications Relating to Printing . (1859) } (p. 166; Google PDF p. 187).

3. Account in Johnson

The account given in Johnson's 1873 paper {" On Certain Improvements in the Manufacture of Printing Types "}, is interesting, and worth citing at length. He attributes the development of this typecaster to Didot, and casts (pun intended, alas) Pouchée as the commercial purchaser of the patent rights. Starting with his description of Didot's "Polymatype" (p. 330):

The "thirty years previously" may be 30 years previous to this 1873 paper, but may also (and indeed is likely) 30 years previous to the Great Exhibition of 1851.

(p. 331)

(The "objections" referred to were the hand type casters' objections that machine-cast type would have "big bodies" because no machine could duplicate the sensory methods of the handcaster for determining the full closure of the mold.)

So in Johnson's account, Pouchée was not the inventor but rather a businessman. Johnson goes on to attribute the fall of Pouchée's business due to "vandalism" of "Luddite" trades-unionism (which is a theme throughout his paper, as he feels that his own business suffered injury from the same cause).

(p. 332)

(p. 332)

Johnson't language needs to be read cautiously, however, for as he continues it becomes apparent that what he refers to as "trades-unionism" is in fact what would shortly in the 19th century be referred to as a "trust" (in the "trust-busting" sense) or syndicate (Southward uses this term; see below), or, in more modern terms, a manufacturers' cartel - the exact opposite of a trade union.

(p. 332)

In the discussion following the reading of Johnson's paper, several points in it were contested vigorously. A Mr. Figgins asserted that Pouchée destroyed his own machine because they were imperfect:

(p. 336)

(p. 337)

(Figgins goes on to assert that typefounders in England had been receptive to machines, that 300 or so of them were in use in England and the same in America, and that an "association" of typefounders had bought the patents of Stewart, Duncan, Kronheim, and Newton for the benefit of the industry. (Johnson in his paper asserted that an "association" had purchased patents for the purpose of suppressing inventions such as his. Clearly there is an intriguing story hidden here.) Figgins also expresses "astonishment" that Johnson admits to the "piratical" practice of stereotyping matrices, something which no English typefounder in the association would do.

Johnson, in his rebuttal to the discussion, reaffirmed his own position.

4. Reference by the Society for Promotion of Christian Knowledge

In { The History of Printing. (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1855), p. 67 } it is claimed that "Mr. L. J. Pouchée actually succeeded in casting 24,000 letters an hour." (67)

5. Reference in Southward (1897)

In { Progress in Printing and the Graphic Arts during the Victorian Era } Southward has this account of Pouchée's machine and its Pythagorean fate:

(p. 59)

(p. 60)

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