A 1935 star-based C3, single distributor, 90-channel Intertype was donated to our local Pioneers Museum. To the best of my knowledge I’m the only person left in Imperial County, California, who knows a bit about Intertypes and Linotypes. The museum people have commandeered me to restore it to operating condition and demonstrate its operation on special occasions.
As you can see from the attached photo, the machine is missing the pi rack which mounts just below the pi delivery chute, a copy holder, a small loose-mat pi tray that sits just above the keyboard on the right, a slug delivery galley (stick? What do you call those things?), and the dross box on the left side of the machine just below the crucible.
I’m interested in the early 20th century history of Intertype Corporation, before it was acquired by Harris Company. How did it get started so soon after Mergenthaler invented the Linotpe? When did they sell their first production model(s) and where? Who was the driving force behind the new corporation and newly patented “improvements.”
Log in to reply 10 replies so far
Updated. Intertype had a very interesting early history. In 1911, New York newspaperman Hermann Ridder collected $4,000,000 in capital and organized the International Typesetting Machine Company. This was after many of the principal patents had run out. Several Linotype engineers, including Wilbur Scudder joined the effort. I have heard that some Linotype people were disgruntled and believed they could produce a better machine, but thats difficult to judge from the span of time. Scudder was reportedly joined by Soper, Bertram and Homans, the latter being a principal designer accounting for over 51 improvement patents. Another 300 specialists were contracted that year.
In 1912, the International Typesetting Machine Company purchased a machine shop housed in the old Bush Terminal Building in Brooklyn. By late 1912, the company expanded their operating space to 80,000 square feet and employed in the neighborhood of 750 persons. The first machine was installed for a price of $2150 at the New York Journal of Commerce.
There were reportedly liquidity problems in the early years, but I forget my source. Intertype was phenominally successful in later years, producing mixer machines, high speed machines and the first photographically based circulating matrix typesetter. I am not sure, but I think that when Harris and Intertype combined it was more of a merger, thus the name Harris-Intertype which you see on most newer machines. I could be wrong about that (and other minute details within) so caveat emptor. I am getting this stuff from old notes in my library and hope I am not plagerizing anyone but myself.
Ambitious project that you have. The trays won’t be a problem to locate, however you should get some help on any detailed restoration.
Since the early years, Intertype boasted a simpler design with fewer parts than the linotype. Was it any better? I don’t know. I have personally seen both a WW1 era linotype #8 and intertype #A driven into the ground, figuratively, producing decent type, so it probably is a matter of preference.
The printing museum in Torrance will acquire a used c-4 intertype in a few days. There is also a c-4 that I am canabilizing for parts. I will try to get the things you need tray for the crucible and a matrix tray along with a copy holder. If you need magazines for the C-4, matrix or maybe even a magazine rack contact the people at Letterpress Trade Services in Orange and see if they will give me permission to get a rack and bring it home to save it for you. (No Cost.)
Phone at 562-944-9184. I have enough mats and mags to run a large newspaper, yet operate a c-3, s.m. 1928 gas pot with a star quadder. Also i don’t see a galley so i’ll try to get one just in case you need it. If you need help in cleaning the keyboard please advise.
Jim Reck, Lino, Intertype, Ludlow, Elrod mechanic for over 40 years, including 42 em machines.
There are still a few here in So. Cal. i will not list where they are without permission from the owners. Send me or call with a wish list and i will try to supply.
Jim Reck 14409 Valeda Drive, La Mirada, CA 90638
To add to Dan Williams’ comprehensive account of the origins of the Intertype, the first production line model was the “A” with a single magazine in 1912, followed later by the same machine with 2 magazines, known as the “B”, and then with 3 magazines - the “C”.
In the 1920’s or 30’s - Dan may know which - the design was “streamlined”, with a square base replacing the Lino-like star base, and the magazines becoming either front or rear loading instead of rear-loading only. Individual parts were redesigned and “streamlined” too.
However, Intertype maintained its principles of simplification and standardisation - this is where it really gained over the Lino - so that any standard Intertype part should fit any standard Intertype machine regardless of its age - though this applies to complete units and may not apply to individual sub-components.
One advantage of this design philosophy is that with the exception of moulds and mats, which came in US, UK and Didot depths, and electrical equipment which was designed for local voltage and pressure, US and UK machine parts are functionally identical regardless of model or age, so any parts book or user manual will apply to any standard production line Intertype.
A point to note is that models A, B and C remained in production long after models C1, C2 and C3 (plus the new C4) had superceded them - the number after the C indicates how many magazines were fitted on the production line. An A could be upgraded to a B or a C by fitting additional magazines, or downgraded similarly, and the same applied to the “New Streamlined” C1/C2/C3/C4 range.
This may explain a rather strange hybrid C/C3 machine that I found recently, with a very late serial number and a Harris Intertype maker’s plate saying that it was a Model C, though it has the later streamlined square base and 3 FRONT-loading magazines.
I suspect that in reality the A, B and C machines “manufactured” after the “New Streamlined Intertype” models were introduced may in fact have been traded-in machines which were re-manufactured, being brought up to as-new specification by replacing worn parts with unused A/B/C parts until stocks of these were exhausted, and then using standard C1 - C4 parts instead.
The base unit is subject to wear too, because it has shaft bearings cast into it, and my supposition would explain its being a very late C with a square base and front loading mags.
Your history is very informative. I worked for Intertype from 1957 till 1999. But I have forgotten more than you will ever know. I just became aware of this web site and enjoy looking at it. Intertype was started by engineers from Linotype and started their ideas by rebuilding Linotypes with their ideas.
Model A Intertype donated to International Printing Museum…
In 2006 I donated a working Model A. This machine had been acquired from Igleman Printing of Richmond, IN. Mr. Francis Stanley (the proprietor) had gotten the machine from “northern Indiana” and had Dave Seat put it into operating condition. It has a gas pot and the somewhat unusual Hebrew galley. The machine was in full operating condition when donated to the International Printing Museum.
It was quite interesting to look over the operating systems and discover that they were very much alike (if not identical) to those of much more “modern” machines. It was quite easy to see the evolution of how various parts operated.
When last seen in CA, the “A” was in Riverside on display with various other pieces of the Museum’s collection at a paper company’s retail/wholesale warehouse.
The magazine I donated with the machine is brass; just as what would have been on the machine when new. It is interesting to note that a lightweight aluminum magazine or even a Visilite magazine would fit into the magazine carriage and would work. The Intertype engineers really had a well thought out machine in 1916 when this particular machine was assembled. Of course, it had a star base which made it somewhat more difficult to move than the newer square base machines. Having said that, moving a star base machine is really not all that difficult.
Loaded the “A” onto a two wheel U-Haul trailer (Believe it or not, U-Haul would not rent a 4-wheel open trailer to go one way to California!) with a forklift, along with various other line casting stuff and headed off to Carson, CA. Got almost to Cove Fort, UT, when a tire blew. Were in the ‘wilds’ out of cell phone range, so had to drag the trailer with flat tire flapping down to the next exit and into cell phone range to get help from U-Haul.
After what seemed forever the help truck arrived and replaced the destroyed tire and rim. What we did not know at the time was that when the tire blew, the trailer was lowered so close to the ground that the bolts on the U-bolt securing the spring rigging to the axle were rubbing on the pavement. Consequently, shortly after getting under way again, in the rear view mirror saw parts flying out from under the trailer. Of course this happened in a construction zone on the Interstate. So immediately got off at the next exit and was able to limp into Beaver, UT.
Again called U-Haul help desk and they were quite surprised to hear from me again, so shortly after the first time. Was directed to a local dealer who actually drove over to check the trailer to determine whether it was movable to his location. The poor proprietor determined that he did not have the parts necessary for repair but that they were located an hour away. A driver was dispatched to fetch the missing pieces. Unfortunately upon his return it was discovered that the parts would not fit! So…plan 2.
He then proceeded to take apart a trailer in his rental inventory in order to repair the damaged unit. We even explored the option of trading trailers, but could not find a forklift to transfer the Interetype from one to the other.
Finely, after taking up most of the day, got under way again and drove slowly to Baker, CA, arriving about 2am to spend the rest of the night. In the far too quickly arriving morning, headed the rest of the way to Carson, CA, and the International Printing Museum. Mark was able to quickly and easily unload the “A” and other items. Needless to say, I was very happy to drop that X@!#%* trailer.
Adventures in moving!
What type of trailer would y’all recommend to haul an Intertype and various other Letterpress equipment—not necessarily together at the same time? I hope to acquire an Intertype C-4, magazines and associated equipment in the near future. I have virtually no experience in loading and hauling a linecaster. I do, however, have a little experience moving presses up to and including a C&P newstyle. One friend of mine has hauled a number of linecasters using a car trailer equipped with tandem axles, a tilting bed and some kind of come-along. I have a truck tricked out for towing either 5th wheel or a straight trailer. I will most likely hire a truck and rigging company for the Intertype, but I anticpate hauling a substantial quantity of Letterpress stuff and I think I could do that with the right trailer (maybe even consider moving the linecaster myself). I read with great interest John Finch’s posting from Dec. ‘07 in which he described using a two-wheeled U-Haul trailer to transport an Intertype long distance to the West Coast. While I admire John’s grit and skill in doing that move, I’m not sure I’d even consider a single-axle trailer to move heavy equipment. But—that’s why I’m posting this query—I’m very interested in what other folk’s experience has been and what advice on the matter they would care to offer. Thanks, Bill Powers
I know this is a rather late contribution to this discussion, but just in case someone comes across this item as is contemplating moving an Intertype;
A friend and I moved a C3 last year using a dual axle 8x5 trailer with a 2ton capacity.
The machine was loaded/unloaded using a suitable fork lift at each end. The key factor was that it was sitting on a substantial pallet for all these operations. It id still on its pallet awaiting final instalation, at which time I have to figure out how to get it off the pallet!
As an aside I have used the same gear, with and a without palletted equipment to move several presses and sundry printing stuff. A two ton capacity hoist with soft straps has been the mainstay of all the moves. Also a good supply of heavy pipes for rolling machinery closer to the hoist.
At Gulgong in NSW Australia at our museum we have a 1929 C3 Intertype, this was a going machine when we picked it up over ten years ago, it had been used for casting lines for gold blocking on bookbinding. This machine is in use most weeks setting jobs for our working display, for four years we set our local show program on it 100 pages A5, it has a bit easier life now, we moved this machine on a table top truck with a dog and chain through the base and a soft strap over the top.
We have moved several linecasters over the years.
Arthur in Australia.
I purchased an Intertype C4 last year here in the uk, I bought it from a guy who works out of a converted Church in Preston. This machine is fully operational complete with over 20 mags, plus a huge amount of spare parts canibalised from 2 other machines.
It hasnt been used too much during the past few years so I am gradually refurbishing the mags and cleaning the mats, we still use letterpress on 2 heidelberg platens, so the intertype is quite useful, we also do goldfoiling.
The Intertype runs remarkably well, in the 70’s I use to use a trade typesetting house for all my lino requirements. Those were the days
I remember now, at the morning daily where I worked most of my life (not all), some of the linotypes were on 2 wood slabs, to lift them above the floor by about two inches; I wonder if this was to make them easier to shift when necessary, which eventually came about.
When we got some Intertypes, they were placed directly on the floor, and we tried to tell the engineer that the keyboards were at different heights to the Linos; he argued that the machines were the same height, no one ever actually measured the distance, which was very foolish of us.
In the picture, I see that the Intertype is on 2 wood slabs, to suit the height of the chair. We should have adjusted chairs to suit the height, and may have done so, I don’t remember.
Later, when on cold type and qwerty keyboards, I borrowed a chair from the lunch room, which gave me the desired height and also avoided the free-moving swivelling of the “typist’s” chairs. The company presented me with the chair on retirement, with a suitable plaque on it.