These days, when someone talkes about movable type, they think blog platform.
Historically, it wasn't too long ago, maybe within the last 30 years, when movable type was the way things were printed. Linotypes still ruled, hot metal type was composed and formed into plates, and everyone knew Etaion Shrdlu's name.
Before that layout didn't even involve QuarkXPress or Ventura Publisher; it also involved hand-assembling bits of metal called sorts (that's the technical term for the invidual bits of type) pulled from a type case. The capitals (or what I like to call majuscules) were pulled from the upper case, and the small letters (minuscules) from the lower case ... which is also why we call them that.
This was the glorious thing that is letterpress. And there are places where you can learn it. I don't know any such places right now, but Creative Curio's Lauren did, and she posted three wonderfully illustrated articles that give you some idea of what that's like.
This will appeal to anyone who is DIY minded, and probably 'zinesters, but it should appeal to anyone who's interested in anything. Letterpress is just that cool.
Take it away Lauren:
- In Part One, Lauren shows us around the print shop and shows what she's going to be using to print letterpress greeting cards, and introduces us to some terms of the artifice, such as Califnornia job case, pied, slug, leading, and 2-em quad.
- In Part Two, we go to press, and she shows us about how she's restoring a Vandercook SP15 press. Messy, but compelling.
- In Part Three she wraps up the classroom experience, updates us on the progess of the Vandercook restoration, and announces a contest where you can win some of those mad cool cards she did (but the deadline is the 10th, so if you're reading this, go on over and enter.
At one time, in the printing world, a Mac was a rubber overcoat. But it was adventurous too.
And here's a bonus hotlinked from Wikpedia: This is what a Linotype keyboard looked like. Clicky to embiggen.
The minuscules were there on the left, the majuscules on the right. Notice how the first two columns in the letterform sections ... which were arranged in order of the most used to least used letters ... were etaoin shrdlu and ETAOIN SHRDLU. The Linotype cast whole lines 'o' type (lore is that's how it got its name when it was first demoed by the inventor) at once. So, if the compositor screwed up, they'd run the finger down the first row and the second row and any line that contained etaoin shrdlu would be thusly discarded back into the molten metal.
Of course, (also hotlinked from Wikipedia) occasionally some of them got thru:
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