[D8905ABJ], Letter from Horace White to Thomas Alva Edison, February 16th, 1889


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[D8905ABJ], Letter from Horace White to Thomas Alva Edison, February 16th, 1889

Editor's Notes

Dear Mr. Edison: Before you examine the matrix machine I have asked Mr. Bishop Putnam, the head of the manufacturing department of J.P Putnam's sons, to examine it with a view to its applicability to book works.##I enclose his report for your information. He knows that the expectation of application to this class of work are very considerable, but they are not, for the most part, articles in newspaper work. Our foreman is of the opinion that we would afford to have all our copy type-written NOW [and revise?] up the avoidance of subsequent correction & [test?] that should save both money & time thereby.##I don't want to bore you, but I thought that the observations of so experienced a publisher as Mr. Putnam would be both interesting & valuable to you. <TAE Marginalia: Tate=Write White say keep me posted as I have put an experimenter on the job> Aus Feb 19/89 You need not return Mr. P's letter. Yours very truly Horace White Thos A. Edison Esq. Orange N.J [Next page: enclosure] Putnam to White: Putnam has examined the Matrix Machine and think it ingenious and beautiful, but will await scientific opinion on its applicability to the manufacture of book plates. The following points strike him: 1. "The careful preparation of copy required in the use of the machine is, I presume one of the most serious questions in considering its practical application to book work.--Copy must be written by type writer, then corrected by author, then rewritten and, if further changes are required by the author, such pages of copy must be type written a third time.--In our experience with book composition all proof requires a double reading by the author, and at least three readings in our own office.--If correections are needed in each one of these, the plates made by the Electro Matrix Machine would necessitate five type written copies at least for such pages as call for corrections." He is worried that for book work, where revision and re-editing takes place often, the Electro matrix Machine would require too many plates to be made. II. "Can the action of the punches be depended upon to producce an absolutely even impression upon the papier-mache? Upon examining the matrix it appears that the impression is very uniform and the specimens of casts submitted show that these present to the eye a very even surface. I question, however, whether in active use such letters as lower case "e" and the other vowels would not have a tendency in a short time to wear to an extent that would be very perceptible in the matrix and still more in the impressions from the palte." III. The key board being made somewhat upon the same principle as that of the Hall Type Writer, and the letters being, therefore, very near together, errors in the work of even the most expert operator are likely to occur.--When this consists merely of the change of a single letter it can be rectified by an impression of the perfect letter.--This may perhaps answer fairly well for newspaper work, it would, of course, not be effective for book plates.--In the latter I presume that the only satisfactory method of overcoming such errors would be by the alteration of the plate as is now done with the stero. And electro. Plates.-- IV The method of properly equalizing the spacings and of justifying the lines is certainly a most ingenious invention and the Matrix Machine appears in this particular to be a material advance over any former type setting machine. The working of this is, however, not a little complicated and would require, as in all the mechanism of the machine, a thoroughly competent operator, and one who would give the closest attention to his work.-- V The matter of speed is an important one and I know of no method of determining this except by a practical test of some weeks in a printing office.--The nature of the key board limits the "compositor" to the no of one hand and it cannot be used, therefore, with anything like the speed possible on a Remington Type Writer.--In making a comparison between this machine and the ordinary method of type setting and casting the following expenses must be borne in mind, first, the cost of writing copy, one to three impressions, second, the cost of making corrections in plates through blunders of compositor or operator, It must also be borne in mind that when the matrix is completed less than half of the electrotyping has been done and the mould is only in the position of the shell of the electrotype, needing bacing and finishing before the plate is ready for the press.--Further than this the result in the end with the Matrix Machine will only show a plate with a type metal face, not nearly as durable for book work as an electrotype.-- I have merely touched upon the points that suggest themselves to me from a very superficial examination. My general conclusion is that while the Matrix is certainly a very clever invention and may prove effective and vvaluable for newspaper work I do not feel that the chances are favorable for its extensive use in the better class of book work. Believe me Yours very truly J. Bishop Putnam [name mentions: J. Bishop Putnam New York Post Horace White Thos Edison Remington Typewriter Electro-Matrix-Machine ]





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Thomas A. Edison Papers, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University
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