The Thompson Type Caster could in many ways be considered a transition machine, sitting between foundry machines like the Barth casters that were used by the American Type Founders Company (ATF), and machines that were intended for casting slugs (Linotype, Intertype and Ludlow) or composed type (Monotype) for printing office use.
The Thompson was invented in 1908 by John S. Thompson. It is a sorts caster, casting multiple types of the same size, letter and style. With attachments and adjustments it is also capable of casting quads, spaces, borders, leads, slugs and rules.
As originally designed, the machine utilized Linotype matrices, but the geometry of the machine is such that it is very versatile. With the proper mat holders and moulds, the Thompson can cast type from virtually any matrix, including foundry martices.
Type sizes ranged from 5–48 point. In 1929, The Monotype Corporation bought the Thompson Machine Company. They continued to build and sell the machine until 1967.
In the day, the Thompson was sold to printers—ATF used the high pressure, high temperature Barth machines to cast type to “foundry” specifications. Today, the Thompson is being used much like the Barth casters once were, and forms the core equipment of several operating foundries.
I first met Vic Potticary in 1973 and 44 years later regard him to be one of the single biggest influences of my life.
But what an annoying bastard he could be! When we were working the Hansard shift setting Parliamentary Debates, he would prattle away extolling the virtues of Socialism, Karl Marx, Frederick Engels and Bakunin (an Anarchist).
The only problem was that Vic was a brilliant Intertype Operator and I was bloody hopeless! Therefore any interruption to my train of thought slowed me down to a crawl.
It put me behind and with the menacing John Buckby lurking around, frankly bothered me immensely. So it was “Fuck Off”, Vic, let me get on with my work. I can’t believe I just said that.
Vic was born in the early 1930’s in Port Pirie. His Dad worked for the South Australian Railways.
In his teens he escaped to Adelaide and took up a Comp. apprenticeship with the only Communist printing company in Adelaide.
He met and married Audrey and they had a son Malcolm. It was then Vic did a very strange thing, he travelled to Angaston in the Barossa to work at the Angaston Leader.
The Leader was a conservative, “hatched, matched and dispatched” country newspaper run by the Robinson family. The old man Robby was a strange fellow who took a bit of a shine to our Vic.
So much so, that when the local copper came to investigate Vic as a “possible foreign spy” that the old man Robby put in a good word for Victor.
But, not before “bucketing” Vic for his non-attendence at church on Sundays.
Vic with good friend and comrade Ursula.
Back to Adelaide and a whole heap of Printers and then to the Old Guv in 1973 (twice).
Vic has been a passionate advocate for the Rights of Workers and on May Day 2011 was awarded the Golden Spanner by the May Day Collective for his services to the Trade Union Movement.
I was privileged to make that presentation to my friend and comrade!