[Typecaster for Sugimoto Typewriter Type]

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1. The Sugimoto Typewriter

杉本京太 (Sugimoto Kyōta; this is a Japanese name presented in traditional order - Sugimoto is the surname and Kyōta is the given name), 1882 - 1972.

In 1915, Sugimoto developed a Japanese-language (邦文, Hōbun) typewriter. It was a machine which printed by selecting type from a large array of Kanji and Kana characters cast on individual types not unlike regular printing types. The type casting machine developed to cast the type for use in this typewriter may have been the first domestically engineered type casting machine in Japan.

Although this typewriter is frequently referred to as "the Hōbun typewriter", "Hōbun" is not a trade name (that is, it is not like "Remington" in "Remington Typewriter" or "Oliver" in "Oliver Typewriter.') Rather, it simply means "Japanese langauge." So a "Hōbun Typewriter" is a "Japanese language typewriter." This is not a strictly accurate designation for this typewriter, as it was designed to suit not only Japanese, but also Chinese (this is mentioned specifically in its US patent, No. 1,245,633).

Here is a photograph of an early Sugimoto typewriter, manufactured by the 日本タイプライター株式会社 (Nihon taipuraitā kabushikigaisha, Nippon Typewriter Co., Ltd.) together with a close-up of its type. Both photographs are from Tetsuo Hashimoto's web page on Japanese typewriters:

(From {Kyo Oomiya})

Sugimoto was issued both a Japanese patent (No. 27,877, in 1915, according to {J. Wiki. Sugimoto}) and a US patent (No. 1,245,633, in 1916/1917) for this typewriter.

[click image to read]

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US Patent 1,245,633

"Type Writer." Filed 1916-11-07 as application serial number 130,010. Issued 1917-11-06 to Kyota Sugimoto. One third assigned to Nihei Otani. One third assigned to Jinnosuki Sugimoto.

Here are Figures 11 and 12 from the US patent, showing a type for this machine.

[click image to view larger]

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2. The Typecaster for this Typewriter's Type

A typewriter of this kind (which employs actual types rather than typebars) requires a typecasting machine to make its types. I do not know for certain the material used for the types in early machines. I do, however, have examples of later type from a machine of this kind (just a few sorts, purchased online) and have had these metallurgically analyzed. They are zinc. Regardless, the typecasting machinery for zinc type is the same as that for conventional lead-antimony-tin typemetal.

Type had been cast by machine in Japan from some unknown point in the 19th century using both hand molds and imported and domestically manufactured versions of the pivotal (Bruce) type casting machine (ブルース活字鋳造機, Burūsu katsuji chūzōki, Bruce type casting machine) (See {Robundo Column 001} and {Robundo Kaleidoscope 006})

The Robundo "Kaleidoscope" blog entry No. 6, {Robundo Kaleidoscope 006}, which summarizes information from the 1975 book 印刷製本機械百年史 [Google translation: Printing and Bookbinding Machinery Hundred Year History.], describes the introduction of the Sugimoto typewriter in this way:


The important phrase in this for the present discussion is: "これに使用する硬質活字を鋳造するため、 特別な鋳造機が作られた" ["Kore ni shiyō suru kōshitsu katsuji o chūzō suru tame, tokubetsuna chūzō-ki ga tsukura reta." Google translation: "For casting a rigid type to be used for this, a special casting machine was made."] That is, the Bruce/pivotal type caster was not used. Other evidence in this same article and in {Robundo Column 001} indicates that the machine used couldn't have been an imported Thompson Type Caster. The rest of the paragraph quoted above seems to imply (as far as I can understand it, relying on machine translation) that this was the first domestically designed casting machine in Japan.

(The use of the term "Rigid type" also suggests that this might have been zinc type, as used in later Japanese typewriters. But this is pure speculation on my part.)

The Japanese language Wikipedia article on Sugimoto, as of 2015, suggests that this machine was introduced in 1920 (not 1917). But this article does not cite its source for this information, and seems to be a little confused as to what the machine was (calling it a "monotype" machine, which it almost certainly was not). {J. Wiki. Sugimoto}

Unfortunately, I know of no technical details of this machine. It would be good to know more about it not only for its own sake but also to discover any influences it may have had upon later Japanese type casting machine development. While several Japanese type casting machines were copies of American or European machines, others (such as the Hakko) were original designs. It would be interesting to know the relationship, if any, between this first domestically engineered Japanese type casting machine and these later original efforts.

3. Bibliography

{J. Wiki. Sugimoto} [Japanese language Wikipedia entry for 杉本京太 (SUGIMOTO Kyota)] At: https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/杉本京太, or if that doesn't work: https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%9D%89%E6%9C%AC%E4%BA%AC%E5%A4%AA. Accessed 2015-07-22.

{Kyo Oomiya} 和文タイプライター 日本語タイプライター [Hōbun taipuraitā / nihongo taipuraitā, Japanese language typewriter / Nipponese typewriter]. A page in the website of Tetsuo Hashimoto, at http://www.geocities.jp/kyo_oomiya/jpntype.html

Perhaps the best set of photographs online of Japanese typewriters.

{PBM100 1975} 『印刷製本機械百年史』 [Google translation: Printing and Bookbinding Machinery Hundred Year History.] 実行委員会 全日本印刷製本機械工業会 昭和50年3月31日. [Google translation: Executive Committee All Japan Printing and Bookbinding Machinery Industry Association, March 31, 1975.]

In Japanese. This book also reprints illustrations of several important Japanese type casting machines. For a summary of its information on type casting machinery (also written in Japanese), see {Robundo Kaleidoscope 006}.

{Robundo Column 001} "小池林平と活字鋳造" ["Koike Rinpei and Type Casting"]. 朗文堂 アダナ・プレス倶楽部 [Rōbundō adana puresu kurabu, Robun-do Adana Press Club], コラム No.001 [Column No. 001]. [Five page web article.] Starts at: http://robundo.com/adana-press-club/column/news_feature/feature_p01.html

In addition to presenting the history of KOIKE Rinpei and his type casting machinery, this column also outlines the early history of machine typecasting in Japan.

Those such as myself who cannot read Japanese and must rely upon machine translation services should note that the Japanese version of the name David Bruce, Jr. is a phonetic transcription into the katakana syllabary: "ダビット・ブルース" (Dabitto Burūsu). As of at least 2015, Google insists upon translating "ブルース", burūsu, as "blues".

{Robundo Kaleidoscope 006} "A Kaleidoscope Report 006 『印刷製本機械百年史』 活字鋳造機の歴史" [Google translation: "A Kaleidoscope Report 006: Printing and Bookbinding Machinery Hundred Year History, History of the Type Casting Machine."] Blog entry at: http://www.robundo.com/robundo/column/?p=688 dated 2011-02-08. Tokyo, Japan: Robundo Publishing Co., 2011.

This is an article, written in Japanese, which summarizes information on the history of type casting machinery in Japan from the book 『印刷製本機械百年史』 [ Printing and Bookbinding Machinery Hundred Year History], (see {PBM100 1975}).

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