Addressograph Multigraph Ltd. was formed by the merger of two American companies, the Addressograph Co. and the Multigraph Co. in 1932. In the UK the company’s head office was in Cricklewood, London. There was a factory in Aldershot, Hampshire and another works in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire which manufactured addressing and duplicating machines.
The Addressograph Co. had been established in 1892 by a miller from Iowa called Joseph S. Duncan. He invented a machine that would address the envelopes of the grain bids he had to send out. This machine was very crude, all it did was imprint names and addresses from rubber type glued on a block of wood on to the envelope. Duncan improved upon his invention and in 1896 patented an addressing machine that would clamp onto the edge of a table and use a continuous string of type plates to address the letters. This machine was able to address 2,000 envelopes per hour.
The American Multigraph Co. was set up in Cleveland by Harry C. Gammeter who invented a machine to duplicate letters. In 1902 the firm began the production of Gammeter Multigraphs. They were used to mass produce form letters and used the same font as office typewriters. The body of the letter was composed by hand or using a Multigraph Typesetter 59 and transferring this type onto the drum of the Multigraph printer. As the printer turned it picked up ink from a ribbon and transferred it to the paper, This letter was then customized using a typewriter to fill in the blanks.
In an effort to establish a new corporate image in the high technology field the Addressograph Multigraph Ltd. headquarters in the USA were moved from Cleveland to Los Angeles in 1978, and the company name was changed to AM International. However, the company suffered severe financial losses and went into bankruptcy in 1982. Today, the Addressograph name lives on as a division of the NewBold corporation.