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The Ludlow Typograph Co. was founded by Washington I. Ludlow and William A. Reade. Ludlow had invented a type casting machine similar to the Monotype and received a patent for it in 1907. In 1909 the company took over the former location of Robert Wiebking and also purchased an engraving machine from him. A second patent was received in August of 1913 for a gas fired slug casting machine with handset matrices, the type caster the company became known for. The operator would hand set individual brass matrices in a device similar to a standard composing stick, insert it in the machine, and cast the line of type as a single slug similar to the Linotype. Though limited in it's usefulness, the machine was easier to operate than either the Linotype and Monotype machines, and cheaper in the long run than keeping foundry type for hand setting.
The first of the slug casters was sold to the Chicago Evening Post newspaper in August of 1913 and was used for setting headlines. In 1918 Saul Brothers became the first printing firm to buy one. In 1920 Ludlow began selling Elrod slug and rule casters for manufacturing spacing material. Over the years the Ludlow machine was popular with newspapers and printing companies for setting headlines, and with book binders as well. The Ludlow caster also continues to have some popularity with private press operators as it allows them to cast their own type.
Over the years there were several improvements to the original machine. In 1929 the first electric models appeared along with improved gas fired ones. In 1965 the Model M caster, a faster and improved model, debuted. The Model N, which used air pressure to mold the lead, was introduced in 1982.
Robert Hunter Middleton was a type designer at Ludlow starting in 1923, and became head of the type design department in 1933.