Wicks, Frederick

SUBJECT AREA: Paper and printing
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fl. mid-nineteenth century
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Scottish inventor of a typecasting machine.
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During the nineteenth century, the mechanical printing press achieved great success in speeding up the output of printing matter, but it proved much more difficult to mechanize the making and setting of type. Before the advent of Monotype and Linotype machines towards the end of the century, the fastest typecasting machine was the rotary caster invented by Wicks in 1878. The machine was said to be capable of delivering 60,000 finished types an hour and was intended to meet the demands of newspaper publishers. The types were formed by forcing a stream of molten metal into moulds mounted on a chain, and the moulds were presented in turn before the nozzle of a metal pot. The Times newspaper installed a battery of Wicks typecasters in the 1880s that remained in use until they were replaced in 1908 with Monotype machines. Wicks also invented a typesetting machine in 1883 in which types stored in upright inclined channels were released by depressing a key. It was used for a time by some London newspapers in conjunc-tion with type produced at the Wicks foundry in Blackfriars Road, again until overtaken by the two finally successful hot-metal machines.
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Further Reading
J.Moran, 1965, The Composition of Reading Matter, London: Wace (provides some details about the Wicks caster).
LRD

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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