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The Introduction Of The Dry Mat In America

( Originally Published 1927 )

It is interesting to follow the development of the dry mat method of stereotyping in America. In 1901 FERDINAND WESEL of New York, veteran manufacturer of stereotyping machinery, was in London, where he found newspapers using a German dry mat quite successfully. Wesel went to Germany and there secured the sole sales agency for America of these dry mats. The Wesel Company introduced the mats into America, but had very little success with them because of opposition on the part of stereotypers, and because the results were not what they had expected. About the only use of these mats was for baseball starters. Later on, the Wesel Company sold their agency to the Pittsburgh "Press". Here the stereotype-foreman, ALFRED BIRDSALL, started his experiments in dry mat making. The mats not being coated, the face was uneven; Birdsall attempted to remedy this drawback by pasting one or two tissues on the dry mat, but this method did not meet with success. In 1910 Birdsall invented his own coating, started a "Dry Mat Service Co., Ltd.," in Pittsburgh and in 1912 advertised that over 50 newspapers in the U. S. A. were purchasing the new dry mat. With the advent of imported coated dry mats no more was heard of the Pittsburgh mat.

The American Type Founders also imported and sold mats for a short time, the price asked for one dry mat of newspaper size being $1.00.

In 1907 practically all newspapers in Germany went on dry mats, using a toggle-press instead of roller to make the molds.

In 1908, the mechanical superintendent of the "Daily Mail" in London CHARLES F. HART, the present mechanical superintendent of the New York "Times", advocated the use of dry mats for all newspaper work. The "Daily Mail" was the first daily newspaper in Great Britain to adopt dry mats exclusively, using the imported German "PADIPP" mats made in Dippoldiswalde, Saxony. Indirectly thru Mr. Hart's endeavor to have an English manufacturer provide English products to an English newspaper, JOSEPH DIXON, paper maker of Liverpool, engaged in the manufacture of dry mats as a side line, marketing his product under the name "Dixotype" mats.

In 1909 HENRY A. WISE WOOD of New York visited the plant of the London "Daily Mail", where the working of German dry mats was shown him. Wood decided to engage in the dry mat business in the United States and some time later made an arrangement with Gerald Wetherman, agent for the "Padipp" mat in England, for the sales agency of this German dry mat in America. Wood continued the sale of this dry mat until the World War made imports from Germany impossible.

In April, 1913, CARL RAID founded the "Flexitype Company", Cleveland, Ohio, sole agents for the German "Flexitype" dry matrix, which was manufactured in Saxony. JOHN BREUER, stereotyper and demonstrator of this new dry mat, invented the necessary equipment for handling these dry mats, namely a scorcher and a humidor.

Within a year's time many newspapers taking 3-5 casts from a mat had been won over to these dry mats exclusively. The advent of the World War ended the contracts and after disposing of its stock of mats the company went out of existence.

The World War having put an end to the business of importing German dry mats into America, BENJAMIN WOOD, convinced of the fact that the dry mat was here to stay, decided to engage in the manufacture of this product. With the aid of American chemists, in whose experimental laboratories all makes of dry mats were analyzed, a dry mat manufacturing process was found and in 1917 Wood, as first in the United States, began producing dry mats on a commercial scale. His products are sold under different names such as: Metropolitan, Marathon, Speedmat, Standard, etc.

After several years spent in Europe learning all details of a number of dry mat manufacturing processes and also of dry mat stereotyping methods, GEORGE A. KUBLER of Akron, Ohio, founded in 1924 the Certified Dry Mat Corporation, New York City, for the manufacture and sale of dry mats, making only one brand known as "Certified" Dry Mats.

A number of other American manufacturers experimented in the making of dry mats; they encountered innumerable difficulties and after having sacrificed considerable sums of money abandoned dry mat manufacturing entirely.

In concluding this booklet a few remarks on the present day dry mat and the equipment employed in the use of same are in order.

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