Chicago Type Foundry—Marder, Luse & Co. I, 1855-1869
Marder, Luse & Co., Scofield, Marder, Toepfer & Co., Scofield, Marder & Co., and the Chicago Type Foundry
Life Span: 1872-1894
Location: 139 & 141 Monroe, Monroe Street, Between Clark and LaSalle Streets
The Chicago Specimen, October, 1872, Published by Chicago Type Foundry/Marder, Luse & Co.1
The morning of October 9th, one year ago, found the Chicago Type Foundry without an abiding place or even one small space for the transaction of its legitimate business, while the proprietors were on the weary tramp hunting for some spot they could call an office. Not a single tool of any description,—not a single matrix nor type machine,—nothing that could be used in the manufacture of any of the products of a Type Foundry was saved from the Great Fire which so nearly effaced Chicago from the roll of cities.
To rebuild our establishment, prepare all the tools and machinery necessary for the business, and at the same time keep our customers from wandering away from us, was now the work to be speedily accomplished. To do all this, in the narrow, cramped-up and uncomfortable quarters we were compelled to accept immediately after the fire seemed utterly impossible. With this view of the case carefully considered we at once prepared ourselves to erect on the site a building, which, while it need not be showily ornamented, nor expensively furnished, should be a comfortable, substantial building, and one having all the necessary appurtenances and fixtures for a complete Type Foundry. (A view of our present building is found on this page.) At the risk of being called a little too zealous in our own praise we will say that we do not think there is in the whole country a building so well-adapted for the business which it is intended, nor do we think there ever was a building for this purpose erected quite so speedily, and at the same time so substantially, as is the building now occupied by the Chicago Type Foundry.
Chicago Type Foundry
Marder, Luse & Co.
Building operations were commenced about March 1st and on the 6th of May the process of moving-in commenced.
A short description of the building may prove of interest to many of our friends, yet we hope to have the pleasure of showing over the establishment many who would prefer a closer inspection and initiation into the mysteries of type founding.
The building is five stories and high basement, and is constructed of brick, with the exception of the basement which is partially of stone. The foundations of the old building were found to be insufficient, and necessitated the laying of new ones, broad and deep, with concrete, cement, and stone. The front is of white Wisconsin brick, and, in contrast with the brown stone window trimmings, together with the architectural design, presents a rather pleasing appearance, in the opinion of all who have seen it.
The entire building, 45×80, is used for the business of the Chicago Type Foundry, with the exception of the second floor—which is leased for a printing office.
The basement room is used for storage of presses, paper cutters, inks and other heavy goods. Here is also located the engine and boiler, which supplies the building with power and heat. Under the sidewalk are the capacious coal rooms and water-closets. The first floor is used for Office-room and Salesroom. On this floor is also a large fire-proof vault used both for the safe keeping of books and papers, matrices and valuable tools that are so difficult to replace when lost or destroyed.—This vault extends from the ground floor, and the lower portion is used for the storage of patterns for machinery, tools, which &c. By this arrangement, in case of the loss or breakage of a part of any tool in use by our Foundry we at once have the patterns to replace the missing part, or of any whole machine. The front portion of the second floor is used as a Dividing Room, where the large fonts are reduced to smaller ones, and where the job fonts are put up in the right proportion. Here also is where The Specimen is put in type and where our Specimen Book is in the process of printing. The entire third floor is used for our Electrotype and Stereotype Department. Everything in the very latest approved machinery can be found in this department, and a large amount of work is turned out. Water is supplied to this floor, as also to the fourth and fifth floors, from a large tank on the fifth floor, which is filled by means of a force-pump attached to the engine in the basement. The fourth floor is used for the manufacture of type casting machinery, moulds and any tools needed in the business. We have here a complete machine department. Here also is our Brass Rule, Lead and Slug Department. In this room also we have our force of matrix fitters at work, with every convenience and appliance known to this branch of the business. The fifth floor is entirely devoted to the manufacture of Type, and here may be heard the clank of the casting-machine from early morn until late at night. For the convenience of every department a steam elevator is kept constantly running from the basement to the fifth floor.
It is our intention to place in our Foundry about one-third more type casting machines than we had in use before its destruction, since the demand for our material would warrant at least that increase within the next few months.
Our working force is at present about the same as formerly, but as many of them are engaged in reproducing or building up it has taxed our utmost capacity to keep pace with the demands of our customers.
Type Foundries are institutions of slow and tedious growth, hence the printer who cannot fully understand the reason of delays, should take the first opportunity to visit a Type Foundry. Our latch-string is always out—to printers or customers of any kind.
The Inland Printer, November 1890
The wonderful growth and progress of Chicago in all that constitutes material prosperity is nowhere better illustrated than in the lines tributary to the needs of the printing fraternity. While our wholesale merchants have gone on and erected and filled their trade palaces with the fabrics of every nation and every clime. giving to the city a name known of all men. the manufacturers of articles for printing office use. though having a constituency smaller in numbers. have covered as wide a territory as that of the merchant princes. Beginning in a comparatively small way. their facilities have grown with their trade until Chicago today is one of the best printers’ supply points in the United States; tllat is to say. the printer can find here. ready for immediate delivery. or have made to order on short notice. anything needed in his business. from a gauge pin to a perfecting press. from a pack of visiting cards to a thousand carloads of paper. from a font of full face to a hundred thousand dollar outfit.
The pioneer house in the manufacture of printers’ goods in this city. and still the most extensive. is the Chicago Type Foundry. at Nos. 139 and 141 Monroe street. This now immense concern was established as a branch of an eastern foundry some thirty-five years ago. in a small building on Washington street. between Clark and Dearborn streets. At first nothing but body types. leads. etc., were cast, everything else being supplied from houses in other cities. In a few years, however, the infant giant cut loose from the apron-strings of its original projectors. since which time its progress has been onward and upward. Through all the changes of ownership it has retained the original name of the Chicago Type Foundry; but since January I. 1869. it has been under the control of its present proprietors. Marder. Luse & Co. When these gentlemen assumed the ownership of the Chicago Type Foundry they recognized the possibilities of the future. and bent every energy to secure to themselves and to Chicago the harvest that was in sight. Larger quarters were obtained. new and improved machinery and methods were utilized. and men and brains of the first order were employed. Busy hands and bright minds contributed to the building up of a business which has had a growth almost unparalleled in the history of enterprises of the kind; and the Chicago Type Foundry today stands as one of the most extensive and strongest houses in its line in the country. and there are few in other countries equal to it.
In one thing the house of Marder. Luse & Co. has worked an entire revolution in the printing trade. We refer to the making of uniform type-bodies. The craft will well remember the curious and provoking jumble-we can call it nothing else-of a few years ago. Then each foundry was a law to itself. and the types from no two foundries could be made to justify with each other. If a printer wished to use two sizes of types in the same line he was compelled to employ cardboard or paper to effect his purpose. while the disastrous effects resulting from the mixing of fonts were felt of all ‘men who were so unfortunate as to have procured their material from two different concerns. The variations in brevier. for instance. were in some cases as much as a twelve-topica lead one way or the other. so that the printer who purchased his body letter from one founder could not make the quads and spaces justify with the job letter of another. and for the latter special quads and spaces had to be bought. thus entailing a heavy additional expenl6 without fully curing the evil.
Occasionally a wail would go up from the craft over this untoward state of affairs. and the founders would be petitioned to agree upon a common scale of measurement that should give relief. Those who made any reply to the plaint declined to make the change desired. averring that it would entail so great expense upon them as to amount. in some cases. to actual confiscation; then they complacently settled back into the old rut. satisfied that they had fully answered the demands made upon them. Not so. however. with the Chicago Type Foundry. Even before the great fire of 1871 the proprietors became satisfied that the desired change could be made. and that it would be an immense boon to the craft. They set about to devise a scheme that should be mathematically correct. so that all the sizes of type could be made to justify with each other by the use of regular thicknesses of leads. and without resort to cardboard and paper. which involved the waste of immense amounts of time. The result was the introduction of the “American System of Interchangeable Type Bodies,” now adopted by nearly every foundry in the country under the name of the “Point” system. In this system the “American “-one twelfth of a pica-was taken as the unit of measurement. All the sizes of type above agate were then cast upon multiples of this unit. Thus nonpareil was made six times the size of an American; minion seven times. and so on up to pica. when the increase became two points in each case up to double pica. which was made twenty-four times the size of American. or equal to twelve six-to· pica leads. The entire system is best illustrated by the diagram given on page 73 of the current volume of The Inland Printer (October. 1890). This can be shown by the following table. The sizes are based upon the metric system. which must, sooner or later, be the standard of measurement in this country:
The use of these bodies together is as easily learned as the multiplication table. Thus a long primer (10) and a brevier (8) justify with a great primer (IS) or two-line bourgeois; a brevier (8) and a nonpareil (6) with an english (14) or a two-line minion (how handy this in advertisements beginning with a raised line. as is the fashion on many papers); one six-to pica (2) lead and a long primer (10) make one pica (12); two pearl (5) make one long primer (10); three nonpareil (6) bodies make one great primer (18); four minion (7) bodies make one double english (2S) ; five brevier (S) bodies make one double paragon (40). and so on through the entire list of type bodies. In other words. the differences between the various sizes are calculated to a mathematical nicety and are made uniform through the whole series. The same system of points is applied to leads. rules, etc., a twelve-topica lead being one point. an eight-to-pica one and a half points. and a six-to·pica two points.
The introduction of the interchangeable system by Marder. Luse & Co. created a genuine sensation. A few printers. thinking only of their stocks then on hand. were inclined to condemn it, but the great majority of the craft, recognizing its benefits and utility, hailed it as one of the needed reforms of the day and acted accordingly. Some type founders, however, evidently blind to the demand of the times, field on to an obsolete idea, and condemned the proposed reform in accordance therewith; yet such has been the current of events that even its then most persistent opponents now advertise to furnish types upon the “point” system when desired.
The interchangeable system now finds universal favor among progressive printers. It has had a thorough trial extending over several years, and he would be a rash man who would even suggest a return to the old order of things. Of course. those who have large stocks of material made after the old haphazard style do not and cannot expect to receive the full benefit of the new plan, but even they are better off than they were under the old system, and the advantages of the interchangeable system will become more and more patent to them when they are compelled to replace the old material with that made upon the modern plan.
The struggle to introduce the new system was a more difficult one than would now be imagined. Opposed to it were large aggregations of capital and the natural selfishness of competitors in business, especially of those unwilling to make a present sacrifice for the sake of securing a future good. Marder, Luse & Co. were compelled to make this sacrifice in common with every other foundry adopting the system, but they were wise enough and brave enough to enter upon the work and push it to a successful issue. Their labors have secured the cooperation even of their competitors and the unqualified indorsement of the craft throughout the English-speaking world. The United Typothetre of America, at its session in September last, gave its hearty approval of the interchangeable system and acknowledged its many merits, and that body of representative printers has been and is making the effort to induce all the founders in the country to conform to it. In this effort they have been nearly successful, and with but two or three exceptions all the manufacturers will hereafter supply types made upon what is now known as the “point system,” which Marder, Luse & Co. instituted some fifteen years ago. As has been said before, this house has effected a revolution in the trade—a peaceful revolution, and one that is of almost incalculable value to the craft.
Specimen Book of Printing Types
Marder, Luse & Co.
Chicago Type Foundry
1880 View of Monroe Street, Looking West from Clark
1874 Chicago Directory
Chicago Type Foundry
Robinson Fire Map, 1886
Volume 1, Plate 1
Chicago Type Foundry
Marder, Luse & Co.
Chicago Tribune, February 12, 1892
TYPE-FOUNDERS FORM A COMBINATION.
Reasons Given for the Organization and the Effect That It Will Have.
Dispatches from New York state that the first definite move for uniting the type-founders of the United States has been made there by the organization of the American Type-Founders’ company, with a capital stock of $10,000,000. It is claimed that it is in no sense a trust and that it is, not intended to advance prices. The following officers and directors have been elected as well as a list of the member foundries:
American Type Founders
American Type Founders (ATF) was the dominant American manufacturer of metal type from its creation in 1892, until the emergence of new typesetting technologies led to its decline in the 1940’s. The company was sold It was formed from the merger of 23 smaller type foundries, and its headquarters were in Jersey City, New Jersey.
1 The Chicago Specimen was a magazine published by Marder, Luse & Co.