Punch Cutting Machine made by Benton Waldo, 1900
In 1885 Linn Boyd Benton of Milwaukee invented a mechanical punch-cutting device where copper patterns were traced with a pantograph in order to make a punch. The machine was later modified and improved upon by Frank H Pierpont of The Monotype Corporation Ltd and became known as the Pierpont punch-cutting machine.
Without Benton’s innovation the realisation of mechanical typesetting would have been held back. In 1890 the first punch-cutting machine was delivered by Benton, Waldo & Co. to the Lanston Monotype Machine Company in Washington. In 1900 around £50,000 was spent on plant for the new factory at Salfords in Surrey, UK, including numerous Benton-Waldo punch-cutting machines for use in the process of making matrices for metal type.
Frank H Pierpont (c.1860–1937) was the Works manager at Salfords between 1899 and 1936. In 1907 punch-cutting machines, designed by Pierpont and made in the Salfords factory, were installed in addition to the Benton-Waldo equivalents. They apparently made eight times more punches in a given time than the earlier machines. They also worked to much finer tolerances with less skilled labour.
The punch-cutting machine has a vertical pantograph. The lower end of the punch-cutting pantograph is operated to follow the outline of the copper pattern, while the upper end works a small tool, moving at many revolutions a second, which cuts into the steel a reduced working of the pattern below. The process is a gradual one, in which the material at the end of the steel body of the punch is cut away until the character (a letter, number, sign or logo) is completed. The machine works to the accuracy of one twenty-five-thousandth part of an inch, and produces punches from 4 point to 72 point in size.
There is one example of a Benton-Waldo punch-cutting machine in the Matrix Workshop at The Type Archive. It works and is used occasionally. There is thought to be one other example in world.