Early Foundry PIN Marks and Identification
Posted on September 26, 2009 by admin
Prior to 1892 there was a large number of independent type foundries producing type and blocks for the letterpress printing industries. Type foundries were companies that designed, manufactured, and distributed typefaces. Typefaces are the various fonts or lettering used in today’s digital age. Many of the original designs from the early type foundries are still distributed electronically today. Each typeface usually included the alphabet, numbers, and punctuation marks. Some also included ideograms and symbols and in some cases the typeface consisted entirely of them. A typeface and a font used to have individual distinctions, however with the digital age the two became interchangeable terms.
In 1892 American Type Founders (ATF) was created and 23 of the early type foundries were merged into the corporation. Other major type foundries were also absorbed into the ATF Corporation soon thereafter. ATF became the dominant metal type manufacturer from 1892 until at least the 1940s. They continued to be influential into the 1960s. With the invention Linotype Machine, profits began to decline in the 1920s and the company went through bankruptcy and reorganization in 1934. The ATF company did continue to operate until 1986 when it was acquired by Kingsley and Kingsley ATF closed it’s doors in 1993.
Pin marks on foundry cast type were originally a “pin like” mark left by the early type casters, as the type was removed from the mold. With the advancement of casting equipment in the 19th century, the pin was no longer required. The pin mark evolved into an identifying mark by the producing foundry. Those unique pin identification marks can be used today to identify exactly where the specific piece of type was produced. The round pin marks were on the metal type and the foundries also used stamp impressions to identify the manufacturer of specific printer’s blocks or letterpress cuts. We host a small assortment of some early pin and foundry markings on our website and you may view those here.