Pin mark identification?

Can someone please identify this pin mark for me? It’s on some ornaments. They look like monotype, rather new. Thanks!


image: Pin mark.jpg

Pin mark.jpg

Log in to reply   14 replies so far

It’s definitely not Monotype, that’s got a square nick.

What does the foot groove look like? That’s a better diagnostic for Monotype. I have lots of Monotype composition and sorts caster type that has a round nick but it has the typical Monotype foot. The nick is usually about half way up the body, though. Could be Thompson-cast.


Thanks Tom and Bob. I should have mentioned the foot. It has a very, very slight groove, close to the edge opposite the nick. The nick is actually cast about one-third up the body. The metal is a bit shinier than that on my foundry type, and there are a few tiny pockmarks here and there. (What is the proper term for pockmarks — the little holes where the type metal didn’t fill the mold?)



I’ll bet it’s Monotype, but I won’t venture to guess on which sort of (probably American) Monotype caster. The voids are bubbles probably due to the metal not being hot enough or the pump pressure not being high enough. I don’t know of any mono caster that uses an ejection pin that leaves a pinmark, so I’ll hazard a guess that the pinmark was stamped into the body after casting. Expert comments?


I have a poster titled Gussmarken europaischer Shriftgriessereien which displays photographs of 58 European pin marks. The mark shown above is not among them.

The poster is all in German, and I do not have a translation, but I can match foundry names to the images displayed on it.

Sorry I can’t positively identify this mark, but hopefully this might eliminate any conjecture that it may have been a mainstream European foundry.

Thanks so much, Foolproof, for checking that poster. It sounds like a great piece. I wish I knew more about casting. I’m intrigued by Bob’s guess that the pin mark may have been stamped on after casting. I’m wondering if there’s a separate machine that does that kind of stamping.


The poster is indeed great. I picked it up because I hadn’t ever seen anything like it before, but it has simply been rolled up and stored since then because wall space is a premium at my shop. It displays pinmarks from foundries throughout Europe (from Sweden to Greece!) BUT now that I have slowed down enough to pay more attention to it, I am immediately struck by how many foundry pinmarks ARE NOT shown on this poster. A few missing ones that come to mind right away are Gans, Olive, Blackfriars, Nebiolo, etc. so there are probably a lot more that could have been added.

I have NEVER heard of a pinmark being stamped onto type after casting. So if someone has any information about that possibility, I’m sure we would all love to hear about it.

Also note on your piece that the depth of the engraving on your sample appears to be extremely shallow.

Well, if it wasn’t stamped, and if, as Bob says above, monotype casters don’t do pinmarks, then I guess it must be some other type of caster. And yes, Foolproof, the depth of the engraving is very shallow — no deep impression here!

Here’s a recap so new readers don’t have to peruse the prior posts:

- What I have are ornaments only.
- The sorts appear fairly new.
- The nick is rounded and cast about one-third up the body.
- The metal appears a bit shinier than, say, new ATF type.
- There are a few small voids here and there.
- The foot groove is very shallow and close to the edge
opposite the nick.
- The depth of the engraving is very shallow.



Your information about the foot groove indicates that your ornaments where cast on a Thompson caster. The origin of that specific pin mark still eludes us.

A proof of the images created by these ornaments would be very interesting to see.

Hi Barbara

1) Do you have a specimen of the ornament - it may be helping identifying your pin mark!
2) In my collection I have two pin marks from Monotype foundries - one saying 10 D and one from the Star Foundry.
3)The Monotype foundry Harry Løhr in Copenhagen, Denmark, used Thompson casters for the small bodies and Monotype casters for the large bodies.

Gott grüß die Kunst

Thanks, Foolproof and Jens. As soon as I can get to it I will proof the ornaments. I would like to see them myself!


Well I’ve finally gotten around to putting together a little proof of these ornaments. All are 18-point, except the bottom one, which is 12. Still a mystery!


image: Mystery ornaments.jpg

Mystery ornaments.jpg

Greg Walters sent me some very useful information which he said I could post to this thread. I quote him below.


My first thought was that it was cast from a Linotype matrix as the depth of drive looks shallower than Monotype drive. Your proof of the ornaments confirms this. The ornaments are mostly Linotype:

First line: Linotype #776 with corners #776-1/4 and #776-1/2
2nd line: Monotype #63
3rd line: Linotype #720
4th line: Linotype #770
5th line: Linotype #719
6th line: Linotype #524 with corners #524-1/4 and #524-1/2

I have identified the second line as Monotype only because that was all I could find in my specimen books. It is possible that Linotype made the same ornament, but it is not shown in the “Big Red” specimen, which is the only one I consulted. And if Linotype never made that ornament, then it was probably cast from a matrix made by the Thompson Typecaster people. When the machine was first built, it was made to .043” drive so that it could cast from Linotype matrices. But the Thompson company also offered flat matrices made to .043” drive. Later, the company was bought by Monotype, and from then on most machines were made with .050” molds to cast from Monotype mats.

The pin-mark has nothing to do with the operation of the machine and is there only to identify the (unknown) producer of the type. Most type from Thompson casters did not have the pin-mark, but anyone could order a mold with a pin-mark.

The type wasn’t produced by a “real” typefoundry. Rather it was produced by:

1) a company that was in the business of supplying equipment to printers and used Thompson/Monotype equipment to produce type, or
2) a trade typographer that used Thompson/Monotype equipment to cast for their own cases (and maybe to produce fonts for customers) or
3) a printer that had in-house casting capability.

I distinguish firms like this from “real” typefoundries because the real ones make their own matrices (hopefully using original designs at least some of the time) and cast with hard foundry metal using foundry casters, while the other outfits make type from matrices which are readily available to anyone in the business and usually use Thompson/Monotype equipment to cast from Monotype metal.

I would read the initials as “E Mc” and look for a company with a name like “Ernest McCoy” or “McMaster and Engle.” It could possibly be read “E M C” for something like “Empire Machinery Company,” but I think the size of the C indicates it is part of Mc.