Linotype honors Ottmar Mergenthaler – August 22, 2005

Mergenthaler Edition publishes typographical treasures

Bad Homburg, August 22nd, 2005. Linotype Library has committed itself to introducing artistic publications in honor of the company’s founder. Celebrated worldwide as the inventor of the "Linotype", Ottmar Mergenthaler also lent his name to the company’s publishing activities at the end of the 19th century. The works released under the label "Mergenthaler Publishing" continue to be treasured by international collectors and are still in great demand in secondhand book stores. The new "Mergenthaler Edition" will revive the tradition, making a bold statement in the contemporary world of book publishing and type design with specialized publications. Among the first are "trytype – experiments in typography" and "trytype – experiments in typography" and "A Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures".

Ottmar Mergenthaler’s name is connected to the biggest revolution in the printing industry since Gutenberg. In the 1870s, hand typesetting was still done just as it had been in Gutenberg’s era, despite large printing presses. Numerous inventors were trying in vain to develop typesetting machines that would integrate individual lead letters in a mechanical process. Mergenthaler tried a new tactic. Trained as a watchmaker, Mergenthaler had immigrated to the US in 1872, where he worked in an engineering factory that, among other things, built models for patent registrations. Based on a dysfunctional model, Mergenthaler worked for years on a matrix for casting and composing lines of text with one machine. In 1884, he was finally able to introduce a prototype that could set type at four times the usual speed and was operated by a single person.

The name of this revolutionary machine is attributed to the publisher of the New York Tribune, who, when he first saw the machine in operation, reportedly cried out "a line of type!" Mergenthaler’s pivotal invention so significantly reduced costs and accelerated the printing process, it became a key factor in newspapers becoming a mass medium. For almost a century, the "Linotype" was the backbone of the printing industry. As its inventor, Mergenthaler is considered one of the most important German immigrants to the United States.

In honor of Ottmar Mergenthaler, Linotype’s "Mergenthaler Edition" is a reminder of the era when exquisitely designed art volumes immortalized the aesthetics and craftsmanship of book publishing. The first two volumes reflect the standards to be associated with the Mergenthaler name in the 21st century. In "trytype – experiments in typography", typefaces are used as raw material for artistic discovery. Carried out by students of Professor Guido Ludes at Wiesbaden’s University of Applied Sciences, the work ranges from surrealistic architecture to re-interpretations of well-known artworks. The 150 pages of pure inspiration are an indication that even unorthodox approaches to typography will find a forum at "Mergenthaler Edition". The second book also breaks new ground, combining semantics, philosophy and type design. In "A Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures", designer Antonia Henschel explores Kantian philosophy on the basis of four-letter words, vividly demonstrating the importance of design on perception.

The exquisitely designed volumes honor Ottmar Mergenthaler and demonstrate that even in the age of computers the art of typography in books is as dynamic as ever. Further information is available at www.linotype.com.


Linotype GmbH, based in Bad Homburg, Germany and a member of the Heidelberg Group, looks back onto a history of 119 years. Building on its strong heritage, Linotype Library develops state-of-the-art font technology and offers more than 6,000 original fonts, covering the whole typographic spectrum from antique to modern, from east to west, and from classical to experimental. All typefaces (in PostScript™ and TrueType™ format as well as 2,300 fonts in OpenType™ for Mac and Windows) are now also available for instant download at www.linotype.com. In addition to supplying digital fonts, Linotype Library also offers comprehensive and individual consultation and support services for font applications in worldwide (corporate) communication.

If you would like further information, please contact:

Linotype GmbH
Du-Pont-Straße 1
61352 Bad Homburg
Tel.: +49 (0) 61 72 - 484 - 24 60
Fax: +49 (0) 61 72 – 484 - 5 24 60
E-Mail: info@linotype.com

Please find more typeface application samples on the Internet at www.linotype.com.
This press release is available as pdf file. Please download:
English version (56 kb)
German version (60 kb)

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English rtf version (824 kb)