Saturday, December 29, 2007

Fixed Measure Newspaper Stick

Here's the most basic stick - the fixed measure newspaper composing stick. These sticks were extremely common before the invention of the Linotype machine, and were used in newspaper offices across the U.S. to set type in the standard column-width of thirteen or fourteen picas.
The stick pictured here is a typical 13-pica stick, with an overall length of 5 inches and a depth of 14 picas, which allowed the compositor to set more lines of type before dumping the stick - typical sticks of today have a depth of twelve picas. There is no manufacturer identification stamped on the stick, which is also typical - these sticks were made by many companies, and pretty indistinguishable from each other. This type of stick was used extensively during the 19th Century, but phased out fairly quickly when newspapers started using linecasting machines in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. A few sticks may have been used for setting of headlines, but most were probably scrapped. I have several like this one, and also a wonderful adjustable newspaper stick that I will show in a future posting.
As usual, if you can provide additional information on this model of stick, please email the information to

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