Monotype Matrix Storage Boxes

The Alembic Press has a varied collection of boxes provided when purchasing matrices, or used for storing them thereafter. Official Monotype boxes can be divided into three styles, founts of composition matrices, founts of display matrices, and composition matrix storage boxes. The composition fount cardboard boxes came in two sizes, 3¼x3¼x½" and 3½x4¼x½", relating to the three sizes of diecase, thus 15x15 mats, 15x17 mats and 16x17 mats. The 15x17 array in the diecase (matrix frame) was introduced in 1925, and the 16x17 array in 1963.

15x15 cardboard boxEarly 15x17 cardboard boxLater 15x17 cardboard box
The cardboard 16x17 composition box above holds 272 matrices.
The wooden boxes below for display matrices have sliding lids, are 5¾x8x2" and have four rows that can hold 26 matrices in each row.
However, the Alembic Press has one smaller size of box, 4½x4x2", that is just for caps, and whose lid says “Property of the Monotype Corporation”.
Storage of composition sorts, as shown below, are in three styles. Wooden boxes with sliding lids, 4x9½x1", registered design 691096, holding 22 rows of 6 cells, i.e. 132 matrices; Wooden boxes with hinged lids, 3½x9½x1¼", holding 32 rows of 10 cells; black plastic with hinged lids, 3¼x9½x1", also having 32 rows of 10 cells, i.e. holding 320 matrices. The hinged boxes often have a chart pasted into the lid, listing the contents, but the charts can be misleading, as a previous owner may have altered the contents, but not the chart.
As well as official boxes, there are many unofficial ones in all shapes and sizes, being wooden, tin, card or plastic.

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This page was written by David Bolton in 2018 and last updated 25 March 2024.