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Monoline Composing Machines

I am researching the history of a printing business in Charters Towers, Queensland Australia. A newspaper, the “Evening Telegraph” was published at the building from 1901 to 1921. After the paper closed a job printing business operated there. When the paper closed, the printing plant was purchased by another newspaper in town, with the equipment not required being sold off. It appears that they may have been after the Monoline Composing Machines.

Does anyone have any information about the Monoline?


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The Monoline was developed in the 1890s by Wilbur Scudder, who had been involved with the early development of the Linotype. It was a slugcasting composing machine which employed matrices in a bar arrangement. It’s production in the US was blocked because the Mergenthaler company held the basic patent on all slugcasting machinery, but it was made and sold outside the US.

It is discussed in Richard E. Huss’ _The Development of Printers’ Mechanical Typesetting Methods: 1822-1925_ (Charlottesville, VA: For the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia by the University of Virginia Press, 1973). pp. 149-150.

It is discussed in John S. Thompson’s _History of Composing Machines_. (Chicago: The Inland Printer Company, 1904)

This is online in the US via Google Books; try their “Advanced Search” page at:

but I’m not sure if it will display in Australia (where it may still be in copyright) - so here’s an extract of the Monoline section from my own scan:

(this is a short extract, but a large file (55 Meg); download it and view it offline)

The most extensive technical discussion that I’m aware of is in Legros & Grant’s 1916 _Typographical Printing Surfaces_. The Google Books version of this is viewable in the US only (its copyright status in the UK and elsewhere is impossible to determine). A while ago I put my own scan of it online at The Internet Archive, and you can probably view that version in Australia:

But for convenience here is a quick-and-dirty extract of the pages which reference aspects of the Monoline:

(also a big file (25 Meg); download and read offline).

The US patents for the Monoline were 506,198 (1893) and 595,079 (1897), both to Wilbur Stephen Scudder.

Is there any chance that the “Evening Telegraph” machines survive? If they do, they’d be of considerable historical importance (and I’d love to see pictures of them!)

David M.

Hi David M.
My friend in Belgium has two of these machines. He may be able to help.
I can mail you (but not post) his contact details.

Sorry I meant Malcolm…..!

Thank you for the scans David, they were helpful in gaining an understanding of how the Monoline worked. Unfortunately, the machines from the “Evening Telegraph” have long since gone, although there is a photo of the room that only shows part of them.

Jeremy a photo or two of your friend’s machines would be great if possible.

Hi There,
Thats no problem, however I wont be over there till next month.