The Lanston Monotype Company was founded in Philadelphia at the end of the nineteenth century (1887) by Tolbert Lanston. Lanston invented a mechanical typesetting device which would become the Monotype casting machine, that lead to the emergence of the Lanston Monotype Company as one of the most renowned type supply companies in the world. The Monotype caster was revolutionary and helped to usher in a new age of printing technology.
In the late 1800s, Tolbert Lanston licensed his technology to an English sister company and became a major international force. Lanston Monotype grew rapidly with America’s pre-eminent type designer Frederic W. Goudy as art director from 1920 to 1947. The type library was directed by Sol Hess who also designed many of the iconic typefaces.
The Philadelphia-based company eventually parted ways with its English counterpart. The thriving English Monotype became simply known as Monotype. By contrast, the Lanston Type Co. went through mixed fortunes and lost ground to Mergenthaler Linotype. The firm was sold several times to companies such as American Type Founders, Hartzel Machine Works, Mackenzie and Harris, before it was eventually purchased by master printer Gerald Giampa and re-located to Vancouver Canada in the 1980s.
Giampa’s Lanston Type Co. continued supplying the American market for Monotype casters until January 21, 2000, when the hot-metal component of Lanston was tragically destroyed by a tidal wave. After this time Giampa, who was one of the earliest developers of PostScript fonts, focussed on digitization of the type collection. Under his stewardship, Lanston’s classic faces were digitized in a style that was true to the brass and lead patterns from which the metal type was made.
In November 2004, P22 Type Foundry acquired Lanston Type Co. From then on, P22 has been in a continuous process of re-mastering the Lanston’s fonts, which include the classic designs of Goudy and Hess, along with newer types by such contemporary masters as Jim Rimmer, Dave Farey and Gerald Giampa.