Help with information about Ludlow Matrix Cabinet

Hello BP community! I’m reaching out to you as experts if you can offer info about a set of Ludlow Matrix cabinets I recently purchased. I’ve researched and found many with a diagonal top but none with a flat top. While restoring I was thrilled to find an original label under two coats of paint. I’m hoping it will help to provide an age. I’ve got a right and left cabinet but both missing the side drawer that would go into a single slot. I’ll anxiously await your input and thank you in advance. Julie in CA

image: lud2.jpg


image: lud1.jpg


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One more side view where the missing drawer would go.

image: lud3.jpg


Determining an exact date would be difficult, since Ludlow was very bad about dates in their documents. The original patent for the Ludlow cabinet was No. 1,306,257 issued 1919-06-10 to Carl Horix and assigned to the Ludlow Typograph Company. It depicts a flat-top cabinet.

One of the images that should be attached to this posting is a Ludlow ad from 1922 showing a flat-top cabinet. (It is from “Printer’s Ink Monthly,” Vol. 5, No. 1 (June 1922): 77.) So we know that this style was in service by that date (and probably a few years before, of course).

The other image which should be attached shows a slant-top cabinet. It is from The Inland Printer, Vol. 86, No. 3 (1930-12): p. 1. So we know that by at least 1930 the slant-top had been introduced. But my collection of Inland Printers from the 1920s is sketchy, and Ludlow didn’t always illustrate their equipment in their ads in any case, so the slant-top may well have been introduced considerably earlier. (And Ludlow may not have discontinued the flat-top with the introduction of the slant-top. The flat-top cabinets are very handy for stacking stuff :-)

The 1962 revision of the Ludlow salesman’s handbook lists only the angle-top (and Universal) cabinets:

The only actual Ludlow cabinet brochures I’ve discovered are those for the Universal (the big green style) and the Convertible-20 (the big grey style).

As far as replacement matrix cases are concerned, you might try Don Black in Toronto ( He has many spare Ludlow matrix cases, though a cabinet of this age would be a long-shot.

You’re halfway there - now all you need is a Ludlow Typograph Machine.

David M.

image: slanttop-1930.jpg


image: flattop-1922.jpg


why can’t I have this panel on all posts? — Alan.

where does the “missing” drawer go to when slid inside cabinet? Alan.

The missing drawer is the one holding the spacing material. I have a mix of new and old cases in my cabinets.

The older cases had the label holders raised (punched) from the front of the case while the newer cases had the label holders in the case handles. They are interchangeable in the cabinets and I assume the spacing case might be interchangable as well. A view of old Ludlow ads in various printers’ journals might reveal when the case style changed, and migth be a clue to the age of your cabinets..

John Henry

Thanks to all of you for great information! I know I came to the right place. To comment on a couple items that came up in your answers…

The missing drawer has guides that would run it diagonally above the other drawers but as you see in the pic, it enters from the side.

The label holders are, as jhenry described, are little notches punched in the metal to the left of brass handles, so I’m thinking these are indeed early models. Plus the styling of the label seems very early versus some of the more blocky styles I’ve seen on the slanted top models.

I’m not a printer so won’t be getting a typograph, I just love antiques and bringing interesting pieces like these back to life. Can anyone offer opinions what they would be worth if I were to sell them after restoration?

Again thanks for the info and keep in coming.

Oh, I forgot one more question…you can see four small screw holes at the top front corner of each unit, what would have gone there? A metal label or hinge of sorts?

Look in the picture that was posted, those holes hold a bracket that a copy board fits in. You would clip your copy to set on the board, most of these have been removed.

Ah yes, Dick G, I see what you’re talking about. Thank you.


While it is admirable to want to clean up and refinish these cabinets, I think you will find there is not a great deal of demand for these beyond the Ludlow users you might find.

They would be great for storing all sorts of small items like jewelry findings, screws, etc. but they are heavy and not as acceptable in a living environment as wooden cabinets.

Most Ludlow cabinets offered for sale find a buyer at $100-$150 for the entire cabinet and cases. I do wish a couple of my Ludow cabinets were flat tops, it makes them more useful in a shop. They are a bit more rare than the slant-top cabinets.

John Henry

I have quite a few slant top cabinets pushed together then a piece of plywood across them makes them a flat top.

Julie, if you look around I’m sure you’ll find someone who’ll be willing to pay more as a decorative item than for use as a matrix cabinet.

It is valuable for its function to a typecaster, but for another type of buyer it is more valuable as a conversation piece.

Good thing is, there are seemingly many such cabinets out there, and these days there are not enough printers and typecasters to buy them all.