Type, a term employed by printers, to denote the letters used in printing ; and which includes not only large CAPITALS, Small Capitals, Italics, and LowerCase, etc, but likewise all the points, figures, and other marks that are adopted in Typography. - See Printing.
Numerous improvements have, during the last century, been made with a view to expedite the business in this noble art. Among these, we cannot omit to notice, first, a contrivance by Mr. William Ged, in 1731; who formed a plate, of any character required, for every page or sheet of a book, from which plate he printed, instead of using single types for every letter, as is practised in the common method. Thus, the ex pence of printing was lessened, while the work was performed with more accuracy, beauty, and uniformity; but such practice was relinquished in the course of a few years, and has not been revived in Britain.
In the year 1784, a patent was granted to Mr. Henry Johnson, for a new mode of printing, termed Logography, which consists in employing types expressive of whole words, instead of those corresponding to single letters. In consequence of this alteration, Mr. J. observes, that the compositor is less liable to error; the type of each word being taken up with as much facility as single letters; and, when a sheet is printed off, such types may be more easily distribut-ed. Lastly, it is asserted, that the expence or number of types in logography, does not exceed that required by the common mode of printing: we doubt, however, the expediency of this contrivance; and believe, that much greater advantages might be derived from casting syllables instead of whole words ; because the former occur more frequently, and may be so arranged as to follow in alphabetical order, in proportion to their more or less frequent recurrence.
In July, 179O, Mr. Robert Barclay obtained a patent for an invention, communicated to him (by Mr. Francis Bailey, of Philadelphia), respecting a method of making punches for stamping the matrices of printing types, etc. so that these cannot be counterfeited. Such invention is chiefly founded on the principle, that if any brittle substance be broken in two parts, it will exhibit certain irregular figures, that cannot be imitated. For a minute account of this very ingenious contrivance, the curious reader will consult the 2d vol. of the Repertory of Arts, etc.
We cannot conclude this article, without mentioning the stereotype, lately introduced into France, by M. M. Didot and Herhan ; being doubtless one of the greatest improvements in the art of printing. Their process appears to be analogous to that of Mr. Ged above related; the form being first composed, and carefully corrected; when the types are so firmly cemented, or soldered, as to resist the action of the press. Thus, correct and beautiful copies of works may be expeditiously taken off; an advantage, which is of the greatest importance in printing accurate editions of the Greek and Roman classics.