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Subject: Re: fraction names
From: Don Hosek <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:TYPO-L Discussion of Typography, Type and Typographic Design" <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 11 Aug 1994 06:55:44 +1600

text/plain (51 lines)

> When a fraction appears as a single character like this:
>         1
>         -
>         2
> rather than as "1/2" does it have a name? "Sorts" keeps
> coming to mind as a name for this sort of (:-)) thing,
> but I need a precise wat to refer to one character
> fractions.
Typographic terminology varies from country to country. Be aware of
Sorts is a generic term for any character. The term "Out of sorts"
comes from describing compositors whose disposition was negatively
affected by running out of, say, e's in composing a book.
Case fractions and nut fractions do not refer to the same thing as
some contributors to this thread have implied. My experience is that
case fractions refer to the 1/2 variety and nut fractions the more
vertical fractions,
I've never seen metal type for composing fractions. It's always been
the whole fraction on a single piece of metal. This doesn't mean that
it doesn't exist. I've never physically seen metal type which allowed
for floating accents (all the type I've ever worked with had accents
composed onto the body with the letter), but I know that at least one
face (by Hermann Zapf) was cast in metal so that this could be done.
My experience working with metal indicates that this would have been a
slow painful process. A letterpress printer friend has a case of type
for composing music and along with it a page of music composed in this
type and still standing. From above it looks fairly straightforward.
Looking at this page from the bottom, one can see how many tiny pieces
of metal were assembled to create the page. Once can see why that
while Oxford University Press acquired matrices for music type in the
late seventeenth century (as part of the Fell donation), no type was
cast from them until the nineteenth century and that type was used
exactly once.
Don Hosek                                       "The Only Solution is Love"
Quixote Digital Typography                                    -Dorothy Day
Publishers of _Serif: The Magazine of Type and Typography_
909-621-1291                                  Current reading: _The Adventures
FAX: 909-625-1342                             of David Simple_ (Fielding),
[log in to unmask]                            _On Nature_ (Lucretius)

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