By 1910, the Type Drawing Office at Monotype in Salfords, Surrey, was formally set up and employed four women, as recorded by its manager Fritz Max Steltzer in his work diary:
October 1. 1909 to September 30th 1910 – During the year a room has been specially fitted as a Type Drawing Office with specially designed drawing boards & accessories, which we first occupied in May. There has been no increase in the staff which still numbers 4, namely: Mrs. Hodges, Miss [Pritchett], Miss Vincy, Miss Wilkins. Drawings made in year: 8,878.
These women would have been amongst the earliest employees to join the TDO, and we know that at least one of them, Dora Pritchett, still worked there in the late 1930s. Further information on early recruitment for the TDO is lacking, but surviving photographs and publicity films indicate that by 1926 the department consisted of at least six draughtswomen working alongside one man (in all likelihood, Steltzer) and that between the late 1920s and the 1930s staff amounted to 12–15 people, almost exclusively female.
Surviving photographs of the period show women sitting in rows, facing their supervisor’s desk. Lights hang from the ceiling to ensure good lighting conditions, and frosted glass is fitted on the large windows as to avoid any outside distraction. Whereas female staff working in the matrix factory wore a uniform of white gowns and caps, the TDO women are dressed stylishly, most of them in a blouse and cardigan. Women sitting at the front each hold a pencil, and work on what appear to be 10-inch drawings on raised rotating boards, with rulers, French curves and T-squares at hand. Behind them, other female staffs take care of matrix-case arrangements and check copper patterns under a microscope. In one photograph from the late 1920s, three boys (probably apprentices) stand at the very back of the room in front of two pantographs, which were used for cutting the wax patterns based on the drawings.
View of the Monotype TDO in the 1910s, Salfords, Surrey (UK). Courtesy of Richard Cooper
A view of the Monotype Type Drawing Office in Salfords, UK, c. 1928. © Monotype archives
A view of the Monotype TDO in the 1930s. Courtesy St Bride Library
A view of the Monotype TDO in the 1930s: young women operating pantographs. Courtesy Richard Cooper