July 3rd, 2011 marked the 125th anniversary of the invention of the Linotype machine. On this day in 1886 the machine was successfully tested after being installed in a production environment at the New York Tribune.
To celebrate, some fellow Stumptown Printers and fellow volunteers of the C.C. Stern Type Foundry fired up the 31 with the mission to cast some slugs and have a bit of fun.
After exchanging tweets with Doug Wilson (director of Linotype the film) earlier that proceeding week, we cobbled together an idea to cast "tweets", and do it in a semi "real time" manner. The idea was that people would tweet Linotype-relevant quotes, ideas, anniversary greetings etc., and use the hash tag #lino125 as a thread to keep the tweets together. We'd cast the tweet in metal, pull a proof of it, photograph the printed proof with corresponding metal slugs and re-tweet with a link to the photo(s). We received a bunch of tweets, too many for us to cast in the small window of time allotted for the project. Several tweets arrived well after the machine was cool and we had started on the beer drinking part of the celebration. Some good anniversary greetings didn't make it to metal this time. There was a lot of enthusiasm for this project, so we'll probably do something like this again. If your tweet didn't make it in this last time, there will be another opportunity.
The typeface we used was 8 pt Linotype Paragon (8^464) designed by C.H. Griffith in 1935. This periodical roman was the fourth to be introduced into Linotype's "Legibility Group" and designed to appear clean and crisp in high-speed newspaper production environment that often requires heavy ink coverage on absorbent low quality newsprint. I'm a sucker for this era of linotype periodical faces, to me they represent the poetry of industry, a perfect marriage between the tools and the craft. We were lucky to have the following universal sorts at 8pt that would be required to cast tweets: "@", "#" & "/" , though one of our "#" went missing during the run, it must have found its way into another magazine channel.
To see additional photos of the “tweets to metal” project, check out the Stumptown Printers Flickr photo stream. The crew of Linotype the film have offered to send the slugs of 5 tweets to their tweeter. So if you participated, perhaps you'll receive your tweet in metal. Speaking of Linotype the film, we are all excited about their project. The crew have been doing an excellent job capturing footage of today's Linotype operators, experts and enthusiasts and as a result of their research and filming have brought us together to help keep these machines running and this technology alive. So if you aren't familiar with the project, please check it out.