0.4 inch composition punches for Bengali (typeface series number: 700), font size 12. In an original wooden box and no suffix relating to the typeface is marked. Manufactured by Monotype Corporation.
As well as manufacturing machines that composed and cast type, The Monotype Corporation produced matrices for hundreds of different designs of typefaces in metal during the twentieth century. The user of a Monotype machine could cast as much fresh type as they needed from a set of matrices. Eighty-two successive operations, including inspections through microscopes, were required to produce every perfect Monotype composition matrix. Patterns and punches were the artefacts that Monotype created and preserved during the process in order to be able to make matrices on demand for their customers.
A Monotype punch is made by tracing a pattern on a vertical pantograph machine. It is an engraved piece of hardened steel of a reverse-reading type character (letter, numeral or ornament) in relief from which the matrices are made. After cutting, the face of the punch was ground to the correct measurements denoted on the relevant chart. The punch was stamped into a piece of phosphor bronze that made a matrix from which type could be cast. Punches were made in standard sizes: 0.2" x 0.2", 0.4" x 0.4", 1" x 1", or 1" x 1.35". If a Monotype punch became damaged it could be replaced, identically, using the pattern.
Patterns, punches and matrices were very valuable to the company and were kept in strong rooms at the Monotype factory in Surrey. Composition matrices were made from a remarkable collection of typefaces there between 1900 and 1995. It included historical revivals such as Plantin, traditional typefounders’ designs such as Goudy Old Style, and original Monotype designs such as Albertus. The Monotype Collection, comprising of all the materials and machinery necessary to produce composition matrices, was moved and installed at The Type Archive in 1995. Matrices are still produced in 2020 for the remaining Monotype customers around the world.