White & Wing (1794-1805)

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USA. Patent of 1805, but both {Ringwalt 1871}, p. 474, and {Annenberg 1994}, p. 236, date the start of their work to 1794. Elihu White and William Wing.

For the closest we'll get to a primary source (other than White's 1806 GB patent) see {Bruce 1891}. For good discussions, see {Ringwalt}, p. 474, and {Silver 1965}, pp. 103-104 and illustration following p. 104. For a shorter reference, see { {Huss 1973}, p. 13.

The White & Wing casting machine was not successful, but its failure was important. White persevered with conventional typefounding, but did not understand the construction of hand molds. In an act of industrial espionage, after the failure of his machine he placed his employee Edwin Starr in the plant of the only successful American typefounders of the time, Binny & Ronaldson. There Starr observed enough of the hand mold to copy it. (See for example {Annenberg 1994}, pp. 236-237). But Starr did not see enough to learn that Binny & Ronaldson's traditional hand molds were made of un-hardened steel. White therefore believed that hardened and tempered steel was necessary for the hand mold. The became standard American practice, as Starr was to a great extent the "vector" by which typefounding in America was transmitted. It is my belief that this use of hardened steel led directly to the characteristic pivotal form of the pivotal type caster. (See Bruce's 1874 memoir History of Typefounding in the United States, {Annenberg 1994} p. 55-56, for our primary source and the CircuitousRoot Notebook on Hardened Steel in Hand Molds for a discussion.)

David Bruce, Jr. spoke highly of White and his long-time support of the development of machine typecasting. White backed several other inventors (and also used some of their machines in his own foundries), including:

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US Patent 635X, Wing

William Wing. Issued 1805-08-28. "Machine[s] for Casting Types." Lost. See GB Patent 2,797 of 1806, below, for a presumably equivalent version.

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GB Patent 2,979 of 1806, White

GB patent No. 2979 of 1806, issued Oct. 23, 1806 to Wlihu White. An abridgement of the Specification of this patent appears in {GB 1859}, p. 114. An illustration of the machine from the full Specification was reprinted in {Silver 1965}, following p. 104.


A patent list is in in { Ringwalt}, p. 249, but the source for this list is now known to be Bruce's biographical memoir, {Bruce 1891}.

The 1831 patents assigned to White (see, e.g., the list in { Ringwalt}, p. 249) were those associated with the Mann & Sturdevant caster.