UPDATE: our hot metal typesetting machine was a huge hit at Clerkenwell Design Week, personalising thousands of notebooks for Design Week attendees.
We’ll be bringing the machine to future events in London. In the meantime, our huge range of notebooks which can be personalised are here. All the notebooks ship for free next day delivery.
Prelogram is bringing hot metal typesetting back to London for Clerkenwell Design Week 2015. One of Prelogram’s historic linotype linecasting machines will be running daily at the Look Mum No Hands cycling cafe at 49 Old Street, EC1V 9HX from Tuesday 19 May to Thursday 21 May 2015. Come along to see and hear the linotype in action. If you order a personalised notebook here – Moleskine or Leuchtturm – and select the ‘Collect from Clerkenwell’ option, your words will be set on the linotype at Clerkenwell and the embossed notebook available to collect in person.
The last of the hot metal typesetting machines in EC1 fell silent in 1987 when the Guardian switched to photo composition from linotype. After a gap of nearly 30 years, hot metal is returning to EC1. Prelogram is carefully shipping one its monumental linotype machines from Hebden Bridge to London and, all being well, commissioning it for the start of Clerkenwell Design Week.
First developed in 1890, linotypes were the biggest advance in printing since Gutenberg’s movable type 450 years earlier. They were as disruptive a force then as the internet is today and unleashed a wave of technological and economic change that transformed human societies. Mechanical typesetting was over six times as quick as setting type by hand and a fraction of the cost. It led to an explosion in printed material and literacy.
Linotypes revolutionised the newspaper industry almost overnight. They were first introduced in the UK at the Newcastle Chronicle in 1889 and by 1895 every newspaper in Fleet Street was was using mechanical typesetting. The machines ushered in the first mass media. By 1914, 600 newspapers per day were being sold for every 1,000 people in Britain. But the end of hot metal came as quickly as the start – mechanical typesetting disappeared in a few short years in the mid-80s with the introduction of digital photo composition.
Almost all the linotype machines were scrapped as analogue anachronisms in an increasingly digital age. Over the last five years Prelogram has found, rescued and restored the world’s largest collection of working linotypes at its print operation in Hebden Bridge. The installation of the machine for Clerkenwell Design Week is a rare chance to see and celebrate a working linotype in action. And if you take the opportunity to buy a personalised notebook, you’ll get to take away a memento of traditional hot metal typography.