Empty Rooker Lower Case


This U.S. typecase configuration is the Rooker lower case shown in Ringwalt: American Encyclopaedia of Printing (1871). The companion upper is Rooker. The cases were manufactured by R.Hoe, and were designed to reduce the distance the compositor's hand had to travel, between stick and box, by changing the size and shape of some boxes. Thus the c m u boxes are narrowed and b l v widened, compared to a normal, ie U.S. Lower, case. Lockwood: American Dictionary of Printing and Bookmaking (1894) comments that some eighth of the space in the normal lower could be re-used by this change. This case was in use in the 1860s. Rooker made the case smaller than the normal size, again to reduce the amount of hand movement. Cases in the collection of Dave Norton are 283/8 x 143/8 inches, but ATF: American Line Type Book (1906) gives the dimensions of Rooker cases as 28½ x 14 inches. ATF name the styles available in this size as News (ie Upper and Lower), California, and Italic. De Vinne: Practice of Typography - Modern Methods of Book Composition (1904) had designed a special stand with side arms, to hold 12 Rooker cases for work on the Century Dictionary, in such a way that a brevier Upper and Lower, and an Italic Cap, an Accents Cap, a brevier antique Job, a non-pareil Job, and 2 cases for irregular sorts, were all close to the compositors hand.

Thomas N Rooker was the foreman of the New York Tribune and designed several other versions of case for the Tribune, for example a combined (single) case, in 1859, and a case with all boxes the same shape, but with a movable bottoms, in 1861. The former was adopted by the National Typographic Union, though never became widely used, and the latter seems to have been a one-off production.

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This page was written in 1998 by David Bolton and last updated 16 December 01.