Philobiblon: Nostalgia and the printer's art

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Nostalgia and the printer's art

I'm old enough, just, to have worked with compositors in the back room of a newspaper, marking up copy for them to typeset, directing the paste-down process, and signing pages off "the stone".

It was the comps at the Cootamundra Herald who taught me a range of (fairly) standard correction marks: the stroke through a letter to delete, the upward-pointing arrow at the relevant spot for insert, # for a space, a circle around a dot for a full point (full stop).

But I hadn't realised, until reading Phillip Gaskell's New Introduction to Bibliography: The Classic Manual of Bibliography, which covers EVERYTHING you could conceivably want to know about the actual production of books through the past 500 years or so, that these all date back to the 16th century. (I also learnt that the arrow is called a "caret".)

Nice to think that through so much change some things stay the same. Whether this will survive the age of Word "track-changes" I'm not sure. Would be nice to think they would - one small piece of continuity...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This little ditty about correction marks and pasting down the newspaper you worked at made me smell wax. It jogged my own memories about putting together newspapers (our paste-up was done with wax, the text printed on plastic). Should've guessed your journalism background. Laura James

3/19/2006 01:21:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

Ah wax - yes. I'd forgotten that smell but it comes straight back to me - those big rollers that laid it on the shiny paper our text was on...

3/20/2006 01:23:00 pm  
Blogger AYDIN ÖRSTAN said...

Speaking of things staying the same, one mark that took me a while to figure out was "stet", which turned out to mean "leave as it is" or "don't change". The first time I saw it written on the side of a manuscript, I thought I was supposed to replace the crossed out word with "stet", which didn't make any sense, of course.

3/20/2006 01:54:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

I must have been through the same confusion over "stet", although I can't now remember the moment.

3/20/2006 09:17:00 pm  

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