Linn B. Benton, inventor

Is your surname Benton?

Research the Benton family

Linn B. Benton, inventor's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Related Projects

Linn Boyd Benton

Birthdate: (88)
Birthplace: Little Falls, Herkimer, NY, United States
Death: 1932 (88)
Plainfield, Union, NJ, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Judge Charles S. Benton and Emeline [Emaline?] Benton
Husband of Jessie Elizabeth Reid Benton
Father of Morris F. Benton, typeface designer
Half brother of Charles R. Benton

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Linn B. Benton, inventor

Linn Boyd Benton (b. 1844, Little Falls, New York – d. 1932, Plainfield, New Jersey) was an American typeface designer and inventor who invented the Benton Pantograph, an engraving machine which was capable not only of scaling a single font design pattern to a variety of sizes, but could also condense, extend, and slant the design. Mathematically, these are cases of affine transformation, which is the fundamental geometric operation of most systems of digital typography today, including PostScript.

Benton was joint owner of Benton, Waldo & Co. Type Foundry which became part of the original group of mergers forming the American Type Founders Company (ATF) in 1892, after which he was a director and chief consultant to ATF.

Benton invented many of the most important type founding technologies of the day, including a mould for casting (1882), self spacing type (1883), a punch cutter (1885), combination fractions (1895), a type dressing machine (1901), a matrix and punch-cutting machine (1906), and automatic type-caster (1907), and a lining device for engraving matrices of shaded letters (1913).

In 1894, at the commission of the publisher of the Century Magazine, Theodore Low De Vinne, he designed his only type-face, the original Century. De Vinne wanted a blacker and more legible face than the typically thin type used before, and slightly condensed to fit the double-column format of the magazine. It was first used in 1895 and soon became enormously popular and many variations were later designed by his son Morris Fuller Benton (November 30, 1872 – June 30, 1948).


  • Century Roman (1894, ATF)
  • Century Roman Italic (1894, ATF)


  •  Cost, Patricia A. "Linn Boyd Benton, Morris Fuller Benton, and Typemaking at ATF," from Printing History, downloaded Jan 2012, p. 33. Number 31–32 (Volume 16, No. 1 and Volume XVI no. 2) 1994. From
  • Cost, Patricia. The Bentons: How an American Father and Son Changed the Printing Industry. Cary Graphic Arts Press, 2011. Hardcover, ISBN 978-1-933360-42-3. Softcover, ISBN 1-933360-42-9. [
  • Rollins, Carl Purlington American Type Designers and Their Work. in Print (magazine), V. 4, #1.
  • Jaspert, W. Pincus, W. Turner Berry and A.F. Johnson. The Encyclopedia of Type Faces. Blandford Press Lts.: 1953, 1983. ISBN 0-7137-1347-X.
  • MacGrew, Mac, "American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century," Oak Knoll Books, New Castle Delaware, 1993, ISBN 0-938768-34-4.
  • Friedl, Ott, and Stein, Typography: an Encyclopedic Survey of Type Design and Techniques Throughout History. Black Dog & Levinthal Publishers: 1998. ISBN 1-57912-023-7.

External links

Linn Boyd Benton, Morris Fuller Benton, and Typemaking at ATF (PDF)

Source: Downloaded Januery 29, 2012 from Wikipedia at

<> <><> <><><><><> <><> <>

The US Patent Office awarded several patents to Linn Boyd Benton. Some or all of them:

Price-Tag Needle, US Pat. 162521 - Filed Jan 18, 1875 - Issued Apr 27, 1875

IMPROVEMENT IN THE MANUFACTURE OF FLOATS, US Pat. 172956 - Filed Nov 27, 1875 - Issued Feb 1, 1876

MOLD FOR CASTING PRINTERS LEADS, US Pat. 254792 - Filed Jan 9, 1882 - Issued Mar 14, 1882

FEINTING TYPE, US Pat. 290201 - Filed May 8, 1883 - Issued Dec 18, 1883

DESIGN FOR TYPE, US Pat. D18775 - Filed May 31, 1884 - Issued Dec 4, 1888

TYPE-MOLD, US Pat. 326009 - Filed May 19, 1884 - Issued Sep 8, 1885 - BENTON WALDO a CO

PUNCH-CUTTING MACHINE, US Pat. 332990 - Issued Dec 22, 1885

TOOL GRINDER, US Pat. 422874 - Filed Jan 17, 1888 - Issued Mar 4, 1890

DESIGN FOR A FONT OF PRINTING-TYPE, US Pat. D20120 - Filed Jul 31, 1888 - Issued Aug 26, 1890

TYPE, US Pat. 545568 - Filed Mar 1, 1893 - Issued Sep 3, 1895 - THE AMERICAN TYPE FOUNDERS

TYPE-DRESSING MACHINE, US Pat. 680685 - Filed May 23, 1896 - Issued Aug 20, 1901 - AMERICAN TYPE FOUNDERS COMPANY

FLEXIBLE PIPE, US Pat. 644039 - Filed Aug 29, 1898 - Issued Feb 20, 1900 - THE AMERICAN TYPE FOUNDERS

GRINDING MACHINE, US Pat. 774030 - Filed May 5, 1900 - Issued Nov 1, 1904

TRACING APPARATUS, US Pat. 790172 - Filed Jul 21, 1899 - Issued May 16, 1905 - AMERICAN TYPE FOUNDERS COMPANY


MATRIX TRIMMING MACHINE, US Pat. 819842 - Filed Jun 20, 1905 - Issued May 8, 1906 - AMERICAN TYPE FOUNDERS COMPANY

AUTOMATIC TYPE-CASTING MACHINE, US Pat. 851855 - Filed Oct 5, 1904 - Issued Apr 30, 1907

DEPTH GAGE, US Pat. 931253 - Filed Apr 27, 1907 - Issued Aug 17, 1909 - AMERICAN TYPE FOUNDERS COMPANY

PARALLEL LINER, US Pat. 1066576 - Filed Sep 12, 1910 - Issued Jul 8, 1913 - AMERICAN TYPE FOUNDERS COMPANY

APPARATUS FOR CUTTING MATRICES, US Pat. 1068478 - Filed Oct 13, 1909 - Issued Jul 29, 1913 - AMERICAN TYPE FOUNDERS COMPANY

TYPE CASTING MACHINE, US Pat. 1115773 - Filed Jun 23, 1911 - Issued Nov 3, 1914 - AMERICAN TYPE FOUNDERS COMPANY

FONTING APPARATUS, US Pat. 1418057 - Filed Jun 9, 1921 - Issued May 30, 1922 - AMERICAN TYPE FOUNDERS COMPANY

ANGLE BODY TYPE, US Pat. 1776718 - Filed Dec 19, 1928 - Issued Sep 23, 1930 - AMERICAN TYPE FOUNDERS COMPANY

Source: Search of patent records via,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.,cf.osb&fp=43b9e33f99650442&biw=884&bih=785

<> <><> <><><><><> <><> <>

Linn Boyd Benton and his wife Jessie Benton (Donaldson) one child: Morris Fuller Benton (b. Nov. 30, 1878, d. June 30, 1948).

<> <><> <><><><><> <><> <>

"The Benton name was brought to the United States by an Englishman, Andrew Benton, who settled in Connecticut in 1638. Linn Boyd Benton's father, Charles Swan Benton, was the youngest in a family of ten children. Charles was born July 12, 1810, in Fryeburg, Maine, to Dr. Joseph Benton and Catherine Britton. Dr. Benton was a physician "of the old school, whose reputation extended for a circuit of a hundred miles." Charles developed a great respect for his father, noting in later years that his scoldings cured more people than did his medicines.

When Charles was fourteen he was sent to Little Falls, New York, where he was apprenticed to his uncle, a tanner. Charles soon gave up the tanner's trade to attend the nearby Lowville Academy, and then, at the age of 20, began to study law at the office of his oldest brother, Judge Nathaniel S. Benton, also in Little Falls. Charles was admitted to the bar in 1835 when he was twenty-five years old, but apparently was not destined to pursue a legal career, since, as one handwritten obituary pointed out years later, "he possessed a warm feeling-ed, human friendly for right and truth glowing heart, and a man with one such heart, can as lawyer here not successful be."

When Charles Benton was twenty-two, he established the Mohawk Courier & Little Falls Gazette. In 1834 Josiah A. Noonan became publisher of the newspaper, with Benton as editor, which brought him prominence and a means for being vocal on political issues.

In 1840 Charles married Emeline Fuller, whose family could trace its ancestry back at least to 1671, when a Thomas Morris bought a large mansion in New Haven, Connecticut. Amos Morris, a descendent of Thomas, served in the Revolutionary War, and was taken captive by the British. In 1783, Eliphalet Fuller married Amos's daughter Amy, who became Emeline's grandmother. [There is a Geni profile managed by "Susan": "Eliphalet Fuller (1749 - 1821), son of Thomas Fuller and Hannah Dimock, husband of Amy Morris"]

Two years after he married, Charles Benton was elected to Congress from the 17th District of New York State, and was reelected in 1844. While he was in Congress, Benton voted to aid Samuel Morse in building the first electric telegraph line.

During his term in Washington, D.C., Charles met a congressman named Linn Boyd from Kentucky, who later became Speaker of the House of Representatives. The two became close friends and shared an interest in dueling. Boyd, while teaching Charles the sport, declared: "Never fight a duel; never be afraid to fight a duel — let them know you will fight and you will neverhave to fight." On May 13, 1844, Linn Boyd Benton was born and named after Charles's esteemed friend.

In 1847, Charles Benton was elected Clerk of the Court of Appeals of New York State and served for two terms. His wife Emeline died during this time, less than five years after Linn Boyd was born. Boyd, as he came to be called, remained an only child and a motherless one for several years until 1853 when his father married Elizabeth Babcock Reynolds of Oswego, New York. She and Charles had one son, Charles R. Benton. At least for some of the time, Boyd was brought up by his maternal grandmother. He learned to rely on himself during those years, and became increasingly independent.

In 1855, Boyd moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to join his father, who was by then the editor and part owner of the Milwaukee Daily News. Boyd, at the age of eleven, learned to set type in the composing room of the paper. Charles Benton's former publisher in Little Falls, Josiah A. Noonan, also moved to Milwaukee during this time, became a partner in a paper mill, opened a paper warehouse, and also established what came to be the Northwestern Type Foundry.

Around 1856, Charles Benton was appointed registrar of the land office at LaCrosse, Wisconsin, by President Franklin Pierce, and held that office until Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1861. Charles Benton had actually been considered as a candidate for the presidency in the 1860 Democratic convention, but lost the nomination to Stephen Douglas. In 1862 he was a candidate for Congress on the Democratic ticket, and, while he had no hopes of winning the election in the highly Republican sixth district of Wisconsin, he did carry La Crosse County. After this, Charles took up farming in West Salem, Wisconsin, and later in Galesburg, Illinois, until 1869, when he returned to LaCrosse.

Because his family moved so often, Boyd Benton's education was somewhat unusual. After attending schools in Little Falls and Milwaukee, he was sent to Galesville College in Galesville, Wisconsin, and later studied Latin, Greek, and other advanced subjects for about two years with a private tutor in LaCrosse. Determined not to be taught from books all day, Boyd arranged with his tutor to teach him in the mornings; if they finished their lessons, Boyd could do as he wanted in the afternoons.

Boyd liked to work with the local tombstone maker, learning to design letters and cut them in stone. Evidently, he was not particularly apt. His mistakes had to be chiseled off, the tombstones smoothed down, and the work started over, all paid for out of Boyd’s own money. He later told his granddaughter that he never earned any cash money because he ruined so many tombstones, though he did learn a lot about letters.

When a jeweler settled in LaCrosse, Boyd Benton decided to leave the tombstone business to study jewelry repair. Detail and accuracy became very important to young Boyd as he learned to remake watch parts. His mechanical aptitude became obvious when the jeweler gave him a piece of gold that Boyd fashioned in his spare time into a tiny model steam engine that actually ran. The jeweler was so pleased that he put the steam engine on display in the window of his shop.

After completing his education, Boyd apparently went back to Milwaukee to work again at the Daily News. But instead of exploiting Boyd’s talents, his employer used him mainly as an errand boy. Another contemporary account has Boyd learning to print in the office of Charles Seymour’s LaCrosse Republican, and then leaving to work as a bookkeeper for a leather house in the same town.

In any event, Boyd must have had some accounting training because in 1866 he became the bookkeeper for Josiah Noonan’s Northwestern Type Foundry in Milwaukee. Soon after, Boyd was promoted to buyer for Noonan’s warehouse.

One summer night while out for a walk, Boyd heard the lovely music of banjos and mandolins being played by several young women as they sat on the steps outside one of their homes. Stopping to enjoy the music, he quickly recognized one of the young women as Jessie Elizabeth Donaldson, a friend from his youth whom he had first met in a dancing class but had not seen in years. Following a romantic courtship, Boyd and Jessie were married in Milwaukee in 1871.

Perhaps because he had been an only child for eleven years, Boyd longed to have a large family. Jessie, too, wanted many children. Their plans were altered, however, when Jessie’s first child was delivered in a breech birth. Boyd swore never to put her through such an experience again, and so Morris Fuller Benton, born on November 30, 1872, was to be their only child. He was named after Boyd’s maternal grandmother’s brother, Morris E. Fuller.

Josiah Noonan went bankrupt in the panic of 1873, enabling Boyd and a partner named Cramer to purchase Noonan’s type and electrotype foundry. Years later Boyd lamented that if he had known anything about typefounding at the time, he would have thrown the entire plant into the lake as a measure of economy! Instead, he went on to master that difficult art and change it dramatically with a series of important improvements and inventions.

In 1874 Cramer sold his half-interest in the type foundry to Lieutenant-Commander Frank M. Gove, a man who knew nothing about the foundry business but who would prove to be a most successful and popular salesman for the firm. The new partners changed the name of the firm to Benton, Gove and Company. While Gove handled the business end, Boyd Benton learned everything he could about manufacturing type in a highly competitive market.

Many years later, in 1922, Henry Lewis Bullen, the historian and publicist for the American Type Founders Company, described this period of Boyd’s life in an article for The Inland Printer:

Before Gove died, Benton had completed his self-instruction in typefounding and found himself on the most intimate terms with decimal fractions and measurements of ten thousandths of an inch. He had and still has a mania for accuracy to the vanishing point, not only knowing, as the books tell us, that a hot breath impinged on a small piece of steel changes its dimensions, but actually taking that solemn fact to heart, grieving that it cannot be overcome. The bane of Benton’s career has been the limitations of error which are made necessary by the disposition of all metals to refuse to resist molecular action. What other mortals cheerfully accept as accuracy Benton regards as a calamity.⁴

Benton’s first type-related patent was registered in 1882 and described a multiple mold for casting leads and slugs. Benton claimed that this machine, ‘‘with one man operating it, could cast more spacing material in a ten-hour day than ten men working the same period could turn out with other methods.’’⁵In the same year, Benton began to work on a typesetting machine with automatic justification. He devised a system, based on his so-called “self-spacing type,” that shortened the time required for justification by reducing the number of character widths in a font of type. Thus, printing type was cast for the first time to pre-determined widths.⁶

Source: The first paragraphs of an essay by Patricia A. Cost article, "Linn Boyd Benton, Morris Fuller Benton, and Typemaking at ATF," from Printing History, downloaded Jan 2012, p. 33. Number 31–32 (Volume 16, No. 1 and Volume XVI no. 2) 1994. From

<> <><> <><><><><> <><> <>

<> <><> <><><><><> <><> <>

view all

Linn B. Benton, inventor's Timeline

Little Falls, Herkimer, NY, United States
November 30, 1872
Age 28
Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI, United States
Age 88
Plainfield, Union, NJ, United States