The Linotype Machine that makes the Fiddleink

This is my machine, a Linotype Model 31. The photo below is taken at its original location: the former Pioneer Printing Company in Vancouver, Washington. It is now located at my workplace, Stumptown Printers.


Pioneer Printing was the original and only owner until we purchased it, and I do believe that the machine was moved only once over the 64 years that they owned it.

The machine is a single distributor 1946 Linotype 31 “4 pocket” mold with hydraquadder. Serial Number 57557. A friend of ours remembers staring into this plate glass window as a kid, transfixed by the sound of the presses, the scent of ink and the movement of this gentle giant with its slow rolling oversized cams. These memories are what inspired him to pursue a career in printing. He's retired now, and I haven't actually told him that the machine is now on our floor. I wonder if he would be excited to see it again, or if he would want to run for the hills at the sight of it. It’s hard to say.

The folks at Pioneer Printing were able to give me a copy of the original “bill of sale with mortgage” issued by the Mergenthaler Linotype Company. The purchase price of this particular machine in 1946 was $6843.00. That’s some serious coin for that time. It's equal to about $75,000 by today’s dollar value. We saved it from the scrap yard for 3 Ben Franklins, a promise to take good care of it and for the cost of rigging. However, considering that the cost of brass is higher these days than it has been for years, and that the metal value alone is often higher than what print nerds like myself can afford to shell out, I feel like the previous owners were generous for allowing us to “save” the machine instead of simply scrapping the machine.

Promotional piece from Pioneer Printing, 11 years before this Linotype was built!

Promotional piece from Pioneer Printing, 11 years before this Linotype was built!