While searching for something completely different (isn’t that always the best way to find things?), I just stumbled across this hilarious three-year-old post by Teresa Nielsen Hayden at Making Light: Interesting misinformation.
They call themselves Back Yard Publisher, but I prefer the page’s title tag: Publishing Your Manuescript. Their motto is good, too: Remember! There’s A Publisher in You’re Own Back Yard.
But wait—it gets better:
BYP’s biggest contribution to our understanding of movable lead type is the Alternate Fact that lead was wholly inadequate to the task:
Letter press printing is the original method of transferring ink to paper which was the predominant method of printing until the last thirty to fifty years. In this method ink is rolled on the face of the type, then a piece of paper is pressed into the wet ink and transferred to the paper. Obviously the method worked very well, although the pressure necessary to transfer the ink to the paper created many problems by smashing the soft lead type and making it useless. Letter press is seldom used today.
And no wonder. This unfortunate property of lead type also affected typography:
Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type in 1440 and every since that time there has been a struggle between topographers, the people who design the type and the printers or use it.
Typographers have been concerned with how the type appeared on the page and how easily it could be read. …
Printers, on the other hand, have had to deal with a different set of problems, one of the biggest was the smashing and destruction of their precious type. This was especially true when one line of type extended beyond the normal ends of the rows of type. To prevent this destruction of the type the printer simply put some of the spacing he would normally have at the end of the lines between the words (called word spacing) or between the letters (called letter spacing) thus, solving his problem. When this happened we then had a justified page.
This is the only reason there ever was a justified page; …
Which makes the carefully justified lettering in some medieval manuscripts a complete mystery.
It’s a howl. How did I miss this when it was first posted?