Composing or Typesetting as a skilled trade originated in the Renaissance.
The Compositor was solely responsible for the appearance of every page. The wonderful vagaries of hyphenation, particularly in the English language, were entirely in the Compositor’s control.
Every special feature: dropped capitals, hyphenation, accented characters, mathematical formulas and equations, rules, tables, indents, footnotes, running heads, ligatures, etc. depended on the skill and aesthetic judgment of the Compositor.
Such was the attention to detail and pride in the appearance of a well composed page they would occasionally rewrite bits of text to improve the appearance of the page.
This greatly annoyed the American author Mark Twain (who began his own career as a Typesetter) and encouraged him to invest heavily in an early, and unsuccessful, attempt to produce a keyboard-driven typesetting machine that wouldn’t edit his words.
There was a romantic tradition, in this country at least, of the drifter Typesetters, who were good enough at the craft to find work wherever they traveled.
They’d work in one town until they wanted a change and then drift on.
They had a reputation for being well read, occasionally hard drinking, strong union men who enjoyed an independence particularly rare in the 19th century.
Typesetting was a skilled and respected trade even after the keyboard-driven typesetting machines were introduced, around the 1890s.
These machines typically produced lead slugs for each line of type, which were placed in a chase, proofed (the type was of course backward), and locked into columns or pages.
Extra space between lines was supplied with thin strips of lead, inserted between lines.
by Unknown photographer (scanned by and courtesy of Derzsi Elekes Andor).
Pages such as price lists and directories would be kept as “standing type” and edited by adding and removing individual lines of type.
Large type in headings, etc., was likely to be set by hand and combined with the machine set lines.
The illustrations of Juan Carlos Ruiz Burgos, who pays tribute to the Saturday Evening Post and the world of Norman Rockwell with a series of beautiful vintage creations, transporting Cat Woman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Poison Ivy or the Joker into the retro universe of the Saturday Evening Post.
Photo by J. A. Hampton/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
This bicycle, designed by Benjamin Bowden, was included in the “Britain Can Make It Better” exhibition of 1946.
Known simply as the Classic (and later the Spacelander), Bowden’s initial design for the bicycle included a motor that gave riders a little extra oomph while traveling uphill.
Bowden’s streamlined design was said to represent what the bicycle of twenty years hence was supposed to look like.
And appropriately, it wouldn’t go into production in the United States until 1960.
The only problem was that nobody wanted one. They were both out of style and terribly expensive ($90, or about $730 adjusted for inflation).
Only about 500 were ever produced. But the Spacelander is a big collector’s item these days.
There aren’t many authentic Spacelanders existing outside of museums, but there are plenty of reproductions—many of which are passed off as the real thing by dodgy folks targeting collectors.
“Just by sitting down in my office and thinking about it, I said to myself I should select a product that had not been made before,” Bowden told interviewers in 1993, reflecting on his work at the age of 87.