1 PRINT IN THANET - COVER & BACK COVER & TEXT - FLIPBOOK v26 ZZZ - FAW - Flipbook - Page 119
terms in common use
A DAB HAND
Before machines, ink was applied to
wooden blocks with a mushroomshaped tool called a dab. To get an
even coverage and make a print, you
had to be good with the stick - ‘a
dab hand’, in fact.
AGAINST THE GRAIN
Cutting wood with the grain
gives you a smooth paper finish
that's better to print on. Although
originally a paper and print term,
Shakespeare used the phrase
‘against the grain’ to mean going
against social norms and practices.
COME A CROPPER
Henry Smith Cropper's Minerva
platen printing press was very
popular in the nineteenth century.
However, it was very easy for a
printer to catch his fingers in the
machine, and ‘come a cropper’.
Cliché is a French word and means a
solid plate of type metal which was
made from a cast.
THE following are examples of words and phrases that had particular print
related meanings and as such would have been used by the print workers
in Thanet. Over time the meanings of these words and phrases have been
applied beyond print. They have become our everyday language, although
their origins and meanings related to printing have been lost or forgotten.
By recognising the history of these words and phrases we are reminded of
the print workers of the past. ◊
HOT OFF THE PRESS
The latest news is cast as a block
on a Monotype Caster or other
machine from melted lead. It’s the
lead type, not the press that is hot.
A ‘stéréotype’ is originally a French word and
describes a method of making a duplicate of a
block of type, so you can make lots of identical
MAKE AN IMPRESSION
A printing plate or block is pushed
against the paper or impressed on
it. To ‘make a good impression’ is to
make a clear, sharp print.
Setting out type letter-by-letter is a tricky job
and was largely replaced by machines like the
Monotype Caster. Using a keyboard, operators
could compose blocks of type which were cast
as lead blocks. A printer in Ramsgate, Fast
Printing, still use a Ludlow Caster commercially.
MIND YOUR PS AND QS
In type cases, the ps and qs are next
to each other and at a glance, look
the same. They’re easy to confuse.
So ‘mind your ps and qs’!
OUT OF SORTS
When lines are laid out in letters of
lead type, you need a lot of letters
- or, as they’re known in the print
industry, sorts. Run out of letters,
and you’re ‘out of sorts’.
PUT SOMETHING TO BED
Once the type is all laid out for a
newspaper or a book, it’s put on
the printing press. The blocks of
headline type and lines of text are
laid flat, on the machine’s bed, so
when the job is finished it is ‘put
UPPERCASE AND LOWERCASE
Writing on your phone or computer, capital
letters are uppercase, and the other letters are
lowercase. When setting lead type, the letters
come in drawers or cases. The capital letters
would be in one drawer or case, the others in a
second. You would set them on a sloped bench
to work: the upper case full of capitals at the
top, the lower case nearer to you.
WRONG END OF THE STICK
While some think this phrase has Roman origins,
it is more likely it comes from setting lead type
in a composing stick - and getting your type the
wrong way round.