Dear Hivemind: How were tables, formulae, charts, and figures (line, not shaded art) laid out / ttypeset in physical presses?

Say, 1850 - 1950, roughly?

Oh, go fuck yourselves, Hathi Trust:

"Partner institution members: Login to download this book.

If you are not a member of a partner institution,
whole book download is not available. (why not?)"

I've just discovered (thanks to Hathi Trust, who /do/ respond to more than slightly grumpy emails) that SOME Google Books materials can in fact be downloaded as PDFs, hiding under the Gear icon, top right.

Mind, this after *years* of using the site. Cue gripe on UI/UX design.

@dredmorbius Oh, man, painfully. Like everything else, you had to carefully lay out by hand the movable type on the composing stick.

#Gauss :gauss: actually says in #DisquisitionesArithmeticae, roughly paraphrased, "as a courtesy to my printer, I will introduce a new variable" because he was trying to avoid double exponents like \( p^{a^r} \).

It was also common for much of the 20th century when #typewriters were most fashionable to use the typewriter for most of the prose and leave space to write #formulae by hand later. Laurent Schwartz's classic Theory of Distributions from the 1950s (or generalised functions, as the Soviets call them) is written in this way.

Even the first editions of Spivak's A Comprehensive Introduction to Differential Geometry from the 1970s is typewriter + handwritten formulae.

@dredmorbius tables could be set with letterpress, anything else would be likely to use one of various intaglio methods, or lithography.

By the 20th century offset lithography and photography could be combined for illustrating books - this is from Kellys Directory of Suffolk 1937, which I happen to randomly have a copy of next to me 😸 (alas, the building has long since been knocked down)


This is a fairly good article. There are videos of the printers on Youtube but they all seem to be very modern ones. Searching separately for lithography might also show current use of the old techniques (using stones, greasy drawing mediums, etching etc) by modern artists...

@dredmorbius tables can just be composed using normal type elements like horizontal and vertical rules (alas, a lot of my old/unusual books from before 1970s went missing after a clearout when I left the family home, so all I've got here is a 3 column layout of ads but not dissimilar to a table).

Maybe search for old maths/science books on Google Books or similar and there might be better examples?

@dredmorbius jfc its from 1884 no still existing copyright shit should be on that? right? 😧

@weirdoslam Best I can suss out, it'ss the holding institution claiming ... under Krell knows what basis, some proprietarry claim in the work.

Much as I love to hate on Google, they're just the passthrough party here. HT pretty much shouldn't even mention them. Certainly not in a way that indictaes or might be misinterpreted as being the responsible party.

@weirdoslam This work is from the Universitty of Caalifornia.

Ruck the Feegents!

@dredmorbius Have you ever been to ?

It regularly adds and documents locations you can get books online for free, including HathiTrust and Google Books. It solely includes material you can get in it's entirety, not just books Google has indexed but doesn't share.

@dredmorbius You might be also interested to know that Google does "geo-shape" this feature. So one might want to access it from an US IP address and not e.g. German address. YMMV depending on title of course.

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