Mechanical punch-cutting

The invention of the typecasting machine (1838) increased production of type from 400 characters an hour to more than 6,000. Mechanical punch-cutting sped up the pace of production even further. Hitherto, each font was cut separately according to a specific design, and the shapes of letters were made to comply with optical and technical constraints – smaller fonts were thicker with larger side bearings, and proportionally more dense than elegant title characters in larger fonts.

he punch-cutting machine had only three settings (large, medium and small). Punches for intermediate-sized fonts were cut by homothety thanks to a mechanism based on the pantograph. The punch-cutter's eye and hand were replaced by the science of the draftsman. Execution was no longer the crucial part of production – it became merely a question of technique, and gave way to design. Once again, what was left of the craft of creating a character was becoming industrialised, and the division of labour continued.

The division of labour and industrialisation gave a tremendous boost to production.

The poorer quality that resulted from the use of only three designs, rather than a specific design for each font was offset by gains in productivity, and by the possibility of supplying the growing demand for new styles. The explosion in advertising spurred the creation of a number of "grotesque" fonts, used to create titles that were more and more visible.

Beginning in the mid-19th century, the "Elzevirian revival" movement brought back, for use in body type, fonts inspired by the classic roman alphabets. This new spirit bestowed a near-universal prestige on the efforts of Claude Garamont.

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