Monday, January 26, 2015

A dead language

john apollo 8-72

I did a new scan of this image over the weekend. It’s me being a makeup editor at The Indianapolis News, standing next to the front page of the Blue Streak edition of Dec. 21, 1968 – the day the Apollo 8 mission was launched for the first orbits of the moon.

It occurred to me that much of the language of journeymen printers has been lost with the advent of electronic typography.

So here is a glossary of terms I learned working as a makeup editor at The News (that I can recall) before the paper transitioned to computers and offset printing.

Art – a picture, either a drawing of a photoengraving.

Artline – the caption for a piece of art.

Chase – a metal frame within which the type, headlines and photoengravings are assembled to create a newspaper page. The chase had bolts on two sides that made it possible to compress the type from the bottom and one side using a chase key.

Column rule – a type element typically extending from the top of a story to the bottom of the page of whatever other element is below the story that makes a vertical line separating the columns.

Dingbat – a design element such as the title of a continuing feature that was saved and used over and over from one edition to another.

Etaoin shrdlu – the sequence of letters in the first two columns of letters on a Linotype or Intertype machine keyboard. Typesetters would occasionally sweep a finger down the first and second columns to make a test line of type reading “etaoin shrdlu.”

Galley – a metal tray that typically held a newspaper story in lead type form.

Galley proof – a proof made from one individual galley to let proof readers check for typographical and other errors.

Hell box – a box into which no-longer-needed lead type is dumped before it is melted down into lead ingots for reuse in typesetting machines.

Intertype machine – a mechanical typesetting machine that created individual lines of type on lead slugs.

Line gauge – a metal ruler used by printers to measure a story or design element. Line gauges were typically 12 inches long and measured in inches, agate lines, picas and points.

Linotype machine – a mechanical typesetting machine that created individual lines of type on lead slugs.

Ludlow – a machine used to cast large type for headlines.

Mat – short for matrix, the individual brass mold for a letter or character that dropped into place to create a line of type on a Linotype or Intertype machine.

Pica – a unit of printer’s measure. There are six picas to an inch.

Point – a unit of printer’s measure, used to measure the height of a line of type or a headline. There are 72 points to an inch.

Proof press – a small printing press designed to print the contents of one galley at a time for proof readers to edit.

Squirt – a malfunction of the Ludlow machine in which a stream of molten lead is ejected.

Turtle – a metal-topped table with wheels on its four feet upon which a page is assembled. That’s what is holding the front page of The News in the photo above.

Type lice – the subject of a prank pulled on novice printers and editors. Experience printers tell the victim that a special kind of louse lives in type and it can be flushed out by pouring water into a 1”-2”-inch gap in a column of type. When the victim leans over to peer closely into the gap, the printer thrusts the bottom of the column of type forward sharply, slamming the gap shut and squirting the water up and into the victim’s face. Hilarity ensures.

No comments: