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Correcting a 65 Year Old Misprint

Last week’s issue featured a reprint of a 1957 article which listed Novell Grant of Winfield as one of the first toll collectors at the Winfield bridge. The Breeze was informed Friday that Grant’s first name was Lovell, not Novell. The November 29, 1957 Breeze had the name wrong and we repeated the error in the reprint.

Many errors appeared in print in the 1950’s because the typesetting machine (the linotype) did not do what the operator told it to do. Each line of newspaper type in 1957 was produced from molten lead. Words and lines of words were formed using separate molds for each letter. When a typesetter struck a key, the molding for that letter would drop into its proper place. It is likely that the linotype dropped an “N” when an “L” was commanded because the “N” was not where it was supposed to be. The linotype was designed to sort used moldings according to width. No two letter moldings were of identical width. There was, however, little difference in the width of “N” moldings and “L” moldings. The frequency of sorting errors tended to increase as moldings wore from use.

I am guessing that the 1957 typo resulted from a worn “N” molding.

PHOTO: Linotype workers at Anthony Hordern & Sons, a major department store in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1935. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

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