Melbourne Museum of Printing
Stereotype Blocks and Matrices
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Stereotype Matrix

Stereo Blocks and Matrices

Electrotype Blocks


A job set up in type, or an engraving, can be reproduced into a block by a moulding process called stereotyping. Many stereotypes can be made from the one matrix. This enabled the same information to be distributed to many printers.

The matrix is usually made from a kind of multi-layered paper (like cardboard) called flong. In earlier days, this was pasted together by the stereotyper as the matrix was `built', starting with very fine tissue paper which was `beaten' into the type with a large, flat brush. In later years ready-made flongs were used which were moulded in a heated hydraulic press.

If required, the matrix could be curved and a curved plate cast from it. These curved plates, semi-cylindrical, were for attachment to the printing drums of rotary presses for newspapers and magazines.

Electrotypes are similar but are made using electrolytic deposition instead of casting in typemetal.

The Museum holds many thousands of stereo matrices and stereotype blocks as well as electrotypes. It is still possible to mould a block from an old matrix.

Like so much of our collection, a lot of work is needed to bring it to a useful and stable state.

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