Saturday, March 22, 2008

Fixed-Measure Newspaper Stick with Curled Handle

Here's a very interesting variation on the common fixed-measure newspaper stick. As is typical, the stick accommodates a 13-pica line-length, and is rather deep - 14 picas. The overall length of the stick is just five inches.But there are two characteristics that differentiate this stick from the more common sticks of this type. First is that the metal at the end of the handle is curled up , with no sharp corners at all. I am guessing that this was so that the stick could be easily slipped into and out of the compositor's pocket without catching on the fabric. It also makes for a very comfortable feel to the stick as you hold it in your hand.
But the other unusual characteristic that may not be so obvious is the fact that the rail does not extend the full length of the stick, which is the case with the vast majority of sticks. Instead, both the end-piece and the cross-piece that serves the same function as the knee in adjustable sticks are riveted to the body, and the rail is only long enough to extend between these two cross-bars.
There are no manufacturer's marks on the stick. I am assuming that this stick dates back well into the 19th Century, as do many fixed-measure newspaper sticks, whose purpose was largely made obsolete when newspapers adopted the use of the Linotype machine - after that time, these sticks would only have been used to set column headlines.
This is a sweet little stick.

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