We’re hiring: hot metal typesetters

Between 1900 and 1970 books and newspapers were printed using type set from hot metal by a compositor on a mechanical typesetting machine. Then, like the switchboard operator, the job of hot metal compositor disappeared in a wave of technological change.

Now, nearly 50 years since hot metal compositors were last recruited, we’re hiring thanks to the popularity of our Prelogram personalised notebooks. We use type set from hot metal to emboss notebooks. Only metal type is hard enough to create a deep and lasting impression on a notebook.

Further, mechanical typesetting – the variable data printing which ruled the world from 1890 to 1970 – allows for rapid personalisation. Online sales of Prelogram notebooks have doubled every year for the last four years and we sold 8,000 notebooks in the last 12 months. Our compositors are struggling to cope with the demand. AND: in an extraordinary ‘mobile’ strategy, we’ve created the Prelogram Juggernaut: the world’s first portable hot metal mechanical typesetting machine.

The Juggernaut was installed at Clerkenwell Design Week 2015 and was a massive hit. It allows us to share the wonder of hot metal mechanical typography around the UK.   It means people can order a notebook in person and watch the type cast and the notebook being embossed within a few minutes.

The Juggernaut is being installed at the Ideal Home Show at Christmas. BUT: we urgently need to recruit compositors to run the mechanical typesetting machines. As recently as 1982, there were many thousands of skilled hot metal compositors working in print shops and newspaper offices. We need to find some of these people to help us run the Juggernaut at live typography events around the UK.


“You lot haven’t got much f**king longer… You’re history.” Sun Editor Kelvin MacKenzie to compositors on the Sun in 1985. “You thought your skills would never be needed again, but we need you now.” Prelogram Creative Director Jennifer Crawford to compositors in 2015.

Additional information

For additional information/images/video content, please contact James Wilson or Jennifer Crawford by phone: 07590 558559 or 0207 193 2119; or email hello@urbancottageindustries.com.

Background to hot metal

Developed in 1890, the linotype mechanical typesetting machine was the biggest advance in printing since Gutenberg’s movable type 450 years earlier. The linotype machine was as disruptive a force then as the internet is today and unleashed a wave of technological and economic change. The machines were called the ‘Eighth wonder of the world’ by no less a figure than Thomas Edison. Almost all the machines were scrapped as first photo-setting and then desktop publishing rendered them obsolete. Prelogram has found, rescued and restored the world’s largest collection of working linotype machines.

About Prelogram

Prelogram’s print output is timeless, tactile and inimitable by modern techniques and equipment. It operates a uniquely ancient and modern print operation that includes state-of-the-art technology alongside the world’s largest surviving collection of hot metal typesetting machines.

Media Contact Details
James Wilson, Urban Cottage Industries
Hebden Bridge, United Kingdom
0207 193 2119


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