Page 14 - April 2014
P. 14

with the Monotype machine and freely
                                               admiƩed that the range of Monotype
                                               faces and the reduced costs of casƟng on
                                               an automaƟc machine were more than
                                               they could match. Pillar added:

                                               “Today (1st June 1938) the enƟre staff
                                               is 3, they work a weekly aggregate of
                                               81 hours and their wages amount to
                                               three-quarters of the retail price of the

                                               The volume of trade in June 1938 was 7½
                                               per cent of that in 1922. Alfred Pillar saw
                                               no soluƟon to this “hopeless situaƟon”
                                               and on 30th June 1938 the foundry
                                               closed its doors permanently. The
                                               remaining machines and matrices were
                                               sold off to compeƟtors and the “ring”
                                               celebrated the demise of yet another
                                               small compeƟtor. John Black and Alfred J.
                                               Pillar are now all but forgoƩen. A handful
                                               of type specimens and promoƟonal

invested in Black’s former business. The       leaflets are held at St Bride, but even the
firm did well in the years immediately          foundry buildings in Wedmore Road, Holloway
aŌer the Great War. In 1922 there were         are long since demolished.
20 full-Ɵme staff working almost 1,000
hours a week to meet the demands               History is wriƩen by the victors, and
of London’s printers, many of which were       consequently we know a great deal about
sƟll seƫng work by hand as they could not      the member foundries in the long-forgoƩen
afford the costly investment required to buy    ‘ring’, but Caslon and cohorts had many small
a Monotype machine. A surviving document,      compeƟtors, and in the coming months I hope
wriƩen by Pillar, reveals that staff wages in   to unearth more stories about minnows like
1922 were equivalent to 25% of the retail      John Black and Alfred Pillar.
price of the types they were casƟng, giving a
healthy profit for the owners of the firm.       Watch this space!

By 1938 the situaƟon was very different
and in June of that year Pillar & Co. sent
out a circular leƩer to their few remaining
customers, announcing that the business was
to be wound-up. They could not compete

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