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10022Re: [PPLetterpress] Re: Setting type before the Linotype

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  • Peter Fraterdeus
    Aug 1, 2008
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      I've got an 1806 edition of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary "In
      Miniature" (damaged, the last section, a history of the French
      revolution -- quite recent at the time --ends in a torn page just
      before Marie Antoinette loses her head) set in what must be the
      equivalent of Three point type! (three equally spaced lines in five
      mm. Cap height very close to 1mm )

      The book is about 3.5 by 5.5 inches +-280pp, and has only a short one
      line definition of the words... There are roughly 140 definitions per
      page in two columns.

      Johnson being famous for definitions such as:

      Garlic, n. a well known plant

      In the "Advertisement" (we would call it the "Forward") the editor
      writes finally:

      " Anxious to please as well as to instruct, the Editor has procured a
      Type of unequalled Symmetry and Beauty ; the Paper is of the finest
      Quality and Texture, and the typographical Execution unrivalled.
      " With these Advantages and Embellishments, he submits the Dictionary
      to public Approbation, solicitious of Patronage only proportioned to
      its Merits."

      Interestingly, the type has no long 's'. Certainly this is a recent
      development at the time, as there are plenty of books printed well
      into the 19th C which still used the long medial 's' (finial s was
      never long...)

      When I'm talking to students, I try to get them to imagine what it
      took to set this book in type. Very small fingers and sharp eyes! (and

      Personally, I can't imagine it!



      On 1 Aug 2008, at 10:07 PM, typebob wrote:

      > Here's a link to a great article that was in American Heritage
      > magazine a few years back.
      > It's a great overview of the days of handsetting type and the
      > typesetting races that
      > compositors entered.
      > It's hard to imagine setting an average of 8 letters in five
      > seconds. Just watch a clock and
      > try to move your hand that fast...let alone pick up the right
      > letters! Amazing stuff!
      > http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/it/2001/4/2001_4_40.shtml
      > BTW: American Heritage is a really great magazine. You can search
      > their website for topics
      > like Linotype, etc, etc. Check it out.
      > Bob

      Peter Fraterdeus
      Exquisite Letterpress

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