Pantograph spotting

Not strictly letterpress, but I was visiting the Casa de la Moneda in Madrid and came across quite a few of these machines. The sign next to them read ‘Pantógrafo para grabado.’ Which I would translate as ‘pantograph for engraving.’ (Although ‘grabado’ is often translated as ‘etching’, there doesn’t look like there’s any acid involved here).

How did this machine aid in producing engravings? I assume it was used to enlarge or shrink images.

I’ve also seen old photos at the Fundación Tipográfica Nacional in Madrid of using pantographs to make matices. How exactly would that work?

Briarpress says my image is too large, so it’s over here:

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Maybe this is unrelated totally, but the way that machine looks reminds me of the machines at the mint.

Have you ever seen the machines the US Mint uses to engrave the dies used to strike and impress blanks for coin production? Scroll to about 2:30 and watch in the below video:

Masters of images for engraving can be made more precisely large, and the pantograph enables reduction to the desired size. Some are much more accurate than others — the ones used for engraving mats for type can reduce the image size possibly as much as 100 times at very high precision. Pantographs can also be used to make same-size precise copies of 3-D objects.


The machine would seem to be a Janvier die engraving pantograph. There’s an article on it, and its predecessors, at:

It is very similar to the machine HavenPress mentioned at the US Mint (I presume the Casa de la Moneda in Madrid is the Spanish mint?) Although these machines are called pantographs, it seems to me that they are developments of the medallion engraving copying lathes of the 18th century.

Pantographs of several kinds were (and still are) used in various stages of making type, but they are quite different from these die engraving machines for minting.

David M.

Here’s a larger photograph of a Janvier machine:

(Not sure if that URL will survive transit; it’s from the website of the C&W Steel Stamp Co.:

click on the “Hubs & Dies” button.)

David M.

There are lots of these various pantograph machines around. Depends upon what you will be using them for. Giampa sold off his Langston Monotype patterns and the pantograph machines before his death. They were quite cool.

I kind of got into the coin world via printing. Think about it. They were producing images with punches for well over fifteen hundred years before Gutenberg made the connection.

At any rate, check this little gem out.