Type drawing offices can broadly be identified as internal departments that operated within type foundries or type manufacturing companies. Their main role was to produce the letter drawings and related data necessary to manufacture typefaces, either in metal, phototypesetting or digital format. Our research suggests that a number of type manufacturers in Europe (such as Deberny & Peignot in France, Simoncini in Italy, Monotype and Linotype in the United Kingdom, Berthold in Germany), and in all likelihood in the USA, employed women who actively contributed to the design, development, and production of many typefaces throughout the twentieth century. Such contributions have proved difficult to document, as many of these workers entered the type industry only for a few years before moving on, either to have a family or to take on other (often non-type-related) employment.
At Monotype and Linotype, type drawing office staff would adapt a designer’s original drawings to a format suitable for the industrial production of matrices, or would convert existing typefaces to either hot metal or, by the second half of the twentieth century, phototypesetting or digital type technologies. Employees also expanded character sets (to include punctuation, accented characters, small caps, etc.) and extended the design of typefaces to include variants (such as bold, italic, condensed, etc.) as well as additional point sizes. The core of the work carried out by these departments thus involved turning an original type design idea into a fully working typeface, often in a range of styles and sizes, through an essentially iterative process.
These tasks were not confined to Latin script, as Monotype and Linotype produced a number of prominent typefaces for the West Asian, South Asian, and Southeast Asian markets.
A view of the Monotype Type Drawing Office in Salfords, UK, c. 1928. © Monotype archives
An employee of the Monotype Type Drawing Office in Salfords, UK, reproducing a capital D from the enlarged projection of a piece of metal type
View of the drawing office of the Simoncini Type Foundry in Bologna, Italy, in the early 1960s. Courtesy Antonio Cavedoni
IPC employee Annette Celso-Blanchard filling in a drawing with black ink, Paris, early 1970s. Courtesy Musée de l'imprimerie & de la communication graphique
An employee of the German type manufacturing company Berthold completing a letter drawing for type production, early 1980s