AN IMPORTANT ARCHIVE INCLUDING SOME OF THE EARLIEST DRAWINGS FOR ARABIC LINOTYPE FONT. "Arabic is the third most widely used script in the world, and its representation in type has engaged printers, engineers, businesses and designers since the 16th century" (Nemeth). The Linotype machine, invented in 1886 by Ottmar Mergenthaler, revolutionized the printing industry and dominated printing in the 20th century, effecting "the greatest revolution in the printing art since Guttenberg" (Frank Romano, History of the Linotype Company,
2014). Instead of setting individual pieces of type by hand, printers operated the Linotype's keyboard to assemble a mould of an entire line of type. The machine then cast the entire line in type metal and printers assembled individual lines of type into full pages. Mergenthaler worked from 1908 in collaboration with the New York Arabic newspaper al-Hoda to develop the first Arabic Linotype machine which was patented in 1910.
The Linotype & Machinery Co. was the British offshoot of the American Mergenthaler Linotype Co., and its archive was dispersed prior to the demolition of the factory in the early 2000s. The company had branches in India (Calcutta, Bombay and Madras), Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa, Nigeria, Borneo and Egypt. Examples from the original archive of artwork can be found in the University of Reading, with the main part of the archive, comprising some 60,000 drawings, now housed in the Letterform Archive in San Francisco.