Linn Boyd Benton

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Portrait of Linn Boyd Benton by R. H. Sommer

Linn Boyd Benton (1844 in Little Falls, New York – 1932 in Plainfield, New Jersey) was an American typeface designer and inventor of technology for producing metal type.[1][2][3][4]

The son of Congressman Charles S. Benton, he was named for his father's friend Linn Boyd.[5] After starting a career as a book-keeper and working at two newspapers, he became joint owner of Benton, Waldo & Co. Type Foundry and rapidly developed a thorough understanding of typefounding methods that led him to develop new technologies. An 1886 profile described him as "an intelligent, entertaining, unostentatious gentleman, a mechanical genius".[5] Benton's company was one of the original group of companies that merged to form the American Type Founders Company (ATF) in 1892, after which he was a director and chief consultant to ATF.

Benton invented many of the most important type founding technologies of the day, including a mould (1882), self spacing type (1883), a punch cutter (1885), combination fractions (1895), a type dressing machine (1901), a matrix and punch-cutting machine (1906), and automatic type-caster (1907), and a lining device for engraving matrices of shaded letters (1913). One of his most famous inventions was the Benton Pantograph, an engraving machine which not only was capable of scaling a single font design pattern to a variety of sizes, but could also condense, extend, and slant the design.[5] (Mathematically, these are cases of affine transformation, which is the fundamental geometric operation of most systems of digital typography today, including PostScript.) The technology allowed metal type to be designed on large plan drawings and then cut at the desired size, rather than being hand-engraved at the desired size.

In 1894, at the commission of the publisher of the Century Magazine, Theodore Low De Vinne, he designed his most famous typeface, the original Century. De Vinne wanted a blacker and more legible face than the typically thin type used before, and slightly condensed to fit the double-column format of the magazine. It was first used in 1895 and soon became enormously popular and many variations were later designed by his son Morris Fuller Benton.



  • Cost, Patricia A. "The Bentons: How an American Father and Son Changed the Printing Industry." Rochester, NY: RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1-933360-42-3.
  • Rollins, Carl Purlington American Type Designers and Their Work. in Print (magazine), V. 4, #1.
  • Jaspert, W. Pincus, W. Turner Berry and A.F. Johnson. The Encyclopedia of Type Faces. Blandford Press Lts.: 1953, 1983. ISBN 0-7137-1347-X.
  • MacGrew, Mac, "American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century," Oak Knoll Books, New Castle Delaware, 1993, ISBN 0-938768-34-4.
  • Friedl, Ott, and Stein, Typography: an Encyclopedic Survey of Type Design and Techniques Throughout History. Black Dog & Levinthal Publishers: 1998. ISBN 1-57912-023-7.


  1. ^ Simon Loxley (12 June 2006). Type: The Secret History of Letters. I.B.Tauris. pp. 68–78. ISBN 978-1-84511-028-4.
  2. ^ Cost, Patricia. "The Contributions of Linn Boyd Benton and Morris Fuller Benton to the technology of typesetting and typeface design". Rochester Institute of Technology (MSc thesis). Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  3. ^ Morphy, Marcia. "RIT Publishes Historical Book on the Bentons and Their Typeface Legacy". Rochester Institute of Technology. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  4. ^ David Consuegra (10 October 2011). Classic Typefaces: American Type and Type Designers. Skyhorse Publishing Company, Incorporated. pp. 1475–9. ISBN 978-1-62153-582-9.
  5. ^ a b c Cost, Patricia (1994). "Linn Boyd Benton, Morris Fuller Benton, and Typemaking at ATF" (PDF). Printing History. 16. Retrieved 17 December 2016.

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