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Patents of Interest to Printers, Inland Printer March 1897 | by The Type Heritage Project [THP]
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Patents of Interest to Printers, Inland Printer March 1897

The large size and prominent placement of this specimen are unprecedented in the history of The Inland Printer.


The patents column, entitled "Patents of Interest to Printers," was apparently compiled by a staff journalist who subscribed to USPTO notices. Normally, it included the inventors' names and brief descriptions keyed to small numbered "figures" illustrating machinery; for fonts, a few representative letters. All such information was organized on the same page or on two consecutive ones—never "showcased" like Fig. 4 in this case.


Note that the specimen matches the one in the patent application with tighter vertical spacing. Since it is not identified by tradename (USPTO regulations had prohibited doing so since 1874), it certainly is not a paid advertisement.


Such an extraordinary exception to the rule suggests that John F. Cumming himself may have submitted this item—perhaps to promote an independent enterprise?


A logical scenario...


Mr. Cumming, for several years the only punch-cutter in New England, has been employed by the Boston Branch of ATF (formerly Dickinson TF) since 1884. One day in late 1896, he decides to "be his own boss" (as so many of his counterparts did).


He has plenty of prospects: the H.C. Hansen Type Foundry in Boston, which refused to join ATF, was starting to expand. He has collaborated with Gustav Schroeder of the celebrated Central TF (St. Louis), and he has cut designs for the prestigious Caslon TF (London). Furthermore, he knows some of the talented Boston lettering artists whose drawings he has brilliantly rendered as punches ready for production.


He could use some publicity. The Inland Printer (Chicago) was the leading international print-related trade journal, so advertising was possibly unaffordable for a fledgling entrepreneur with a growing family.


In January 1897, the mailman delivers a copy of a design patent application for Satanick filed three months earlier assigning the rights to his former employer. It is stamped "approved."


He quickly realigns the patent specimen, writes a short caption and sends a Press Release to The Inland Printer. It arrives in February for publication in the March edition. The patents columnist is delighted with input a bit more interesting than the USPTO Register.


So Mr. Cumming's name, location and an imposing sample of his work appear in the "news-worthy" article section, not buried in the pages of tiny bargain-rate ads at the end of the issue!



More about John F. Cumming:

More about 19th-century punch-cutters:


Satanick has been digitally archived for posterity.

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Taken on August 15, 2012