Keelan’s Linotype rescue

I hesitate to post on a nontechnical subject, but this one is, to me worthwhile.

Keelan Lightfoot (an amateur Linotype enthusiast who doesn’t post to BriarPress but is fairly well known on LETPRESS and IntertypeWorld) is presently running an Indiegogo funding campaign to try to cover the costs of saving a Model 8 Linotype (mfg 1920) from scrap. He doesn’t need the machine himself (he recently saved a Model 31 for his own shop), but is trying to give it a “foster home” so that it can someday go to another owner. Nobody else in the Pacific Northwest has stepped up to the plate to do this.

Yes, there are still Linotypes and Intertypes to be found “in the wild,” but this won’t be the case for much longer. Tens of thousands of machines have been scrapped in the last three decades; those that have survived deserve preservation. (I’ve saved eight of them myself, and have some idea of the amount of work Keelan’s getting himself into even if he can raise the funds to cover his costs. I’ve also moved them inter-state distances, and while one can nickel-and-dime local moves sometimes, his estimates of cost are accurate.)

For his project:

For some discussion of it, including a breakdown of his cost estimates, see recent postings at:

For a photo:

As there has been some discussion of the merits of “crowdsourced” funding in recent threads, and as this is such a funding effort, a note on that might not be amiss.

I see these kickstarter/indiegogo/etc. campaigns as falling into two distinct classes, both legitimate in principle (though of course anything may be subject to abuse).

One mode is pure charity, no different from any other charity (wildlife, children, disaster relief, art museums, whatever). A letterpress-related example would be the C.C.Stern’s kickstarter campaign last year to raise the funds to restore their Monotype Type-&-Rule Caster. In cases such as this, whether or not one supports the campaign depends entirely on how one feels about it. In the case of the Stern campaign, I feel that my modest contribution has been well repaid by a working machine which will help preserve the practical knowledge of typecasting into the future.

The other model is pure capitalism. It is a return to the subscription publishing common in the 17th and 18th centuries. This is what gave us, for example, the first popular edition of Milton’s Paradise Lost or Pope’s translation of The Iliad. Surely our civilization is better for these. The crowdfunding campaigns where the “regular” contribution level gets you a copy of the product fall into this category (the one for Linotype: The Film, for example, or various CD funding campaigns). They’re a return to a mode of entrepreneurialism that was more common before banks deluded us into the notion that debt is the only socially acceptable way to finance a business.

Keelan’s project falls into the “pure charity” category, in the sense that the benefits the contributor receives are intangible (I don’t really need a T-shirt embroidered by Keelan’s mom, though I’m sure it is very nice). But keeping a 92 year old Linotype alive is tangible enough for me.

Dr. David M. MacMillan

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Thank you for sharing this here. I do post here infrequently, but I mostly lurk. I’ve been working on a staged roll-out of my campaign to garner support for this project — Briar Press was on my list for this evening, but you beat me to it, and you did a better job than I could have ever done myself.

For me, what drove this home more than anything was finding out that this Linotype is 93 years old. Maybe I’m anthropomorphizing inanimate objects, but it seem a shame for something to last this long and not have a fighting change at living at least another 93 years.

Counting offline contributions, I’ve reached 46% of my goal in the first 4 days, but contributions have slowed to a trickle in the last two days. Anything helps!