Sunday, April 20, 2008

"For My Daddy" by Leon Retharp

Sometimes you're just fooling around, and you print a little piece of ephemera just to amuse yourself - this is an example.
When my younger son, Noel was about five years old, he abruptly said to his mother one day, "Write this down!" She got out a paper and a pencil, and he said, "This is for my daddy." He then proceeded to dictate the exact words that I printed on this little broadside. It's very funny, very zen, sort of. I think that it was basically an effort to document his accomplishments. If you click on the illustration, you can see a larger format that you should be able to read.
The broadside is 8-1/4 by 5 inches. It was set in Van Dijck and Cochin Open typefaces and printed on Okawara student grade paper. I printed 175 copies, of which 151 were for the Amalgamated Printers Association, to which I belonged at the time.
Leon Retharp is Noel's first and middle names spelled backwards - Noel Prather. Years later, when Noel was working as a musician, he played some instruments on a CD that listed his name as "Brather" - some kind of bastardization of Prather. Go figure.

"Turtle" Composing Stick

Here is a stick that was purportedly quite popular, although there don't seem to be a lot of survivors. This is the "Turtle", or "Turtle's Standard Job Stick", which you could read in the shield on the illustration above if the picture were clearer. According to Speckter, this stick was manufactured on the East Coast between 1910 and 1930 by one David Turtle, a retired compositor. To better market the stick, Turtle stamped his International Typographical Union card number on the stick, thereby hoping to connect with other union compositors. Also stamped on the bed was an aide to copyfitting - a table showing the number of words to the square inch of various sizes of type. In some versions (including this particular stick) a ruler in inches is stamped on the inside of the rail as an additional aide.
This particular stick is 12-1/2 inches long, with a depth of 12 picas. The rail has a line of round holes punched through it, into which a small round post on the knee fits - the holes are 6 points apart, so the stick can be adjusted to picas and half-picas. The clamp is otherwise virtually identical to the Rouse job stick clamp.
I don't know if the knees tended to be fragile, but this one is unfortunately broken - a tendency to fracture may be why the stick is pretty uncommon, despite having been quite popular. This hypothesis gets further support from the fact that the illustration of the Turtle stick in the Speckter book shows a Turtle stick with a Buckeye knee, which obviously is a mis-match, since the rail is clearly punched with round holes while the Buckeye knee is not fitted with any sort of post to fit into the holes in the rail. Apparently the original knee for Speckter's Turtle wasn't around any more when he took the picture.