Benton Matrix Engraving

Swamp Press has the very rare Benton Pantograph for engraving matrices. The Benton matrix engraver was developed by Linn Boyd Benton at ATF in the 1880’s and revolutionized type founding. The engraver was made in two sizes & we have the larger machine capable of making matrices up to 72 points. Ornaments, type images and entire fonts can be made in various formats. The Monotype-Thompson flat mat is the simplest to make, with or without ears, although Giant and English style display mats are also available. We have made suites of mats to cast entire alphabets, such as Pilot, Cherokee (in several sizes), Baker, Doves, and Twist, as well as many ornament sets. In the works is Kliluk, an asemic face by Barbara Henry, and Friedlander Swash, by the celebrated type designer Elizabeth Friedlander. Since the complexity of the engraved image affects pricing, send me an image or sketch for an accurate quote.

Monotype-Thompson Flat Mat

Giant Mat

English Display matrix

ATF pattern for engraving

The Process

Your design is prepared at Swamp in digital format using Fontographer from which a negative is made, stripped up and then used to burn a photopolymer pattern. The wand of the Benton is guided by hand through the pattern. Since the cutters are very small (down to 0.0005”) and fragile, the cutting proceeds in steps of 0.015” deep. A typical design requires 5 cuttings with the final cutter being 0.003” in diameter. Then the raw matrix is fitted, which means the depth of the engraving is adjusted, the head and side bearing are milled to specifications, and all along the image is inspected under a microscope. This is persnickety and demanding work. The level of detail and complication determines the time it takes and hence the cost. We have a pdf explaining the various parameters of the process available on request.

benton press pattern