What I learned on my holiday

Bishop Pompellier’s Printing Press

Bishop Pompellier's Printing Press at Russell.
Bishop Pompellier’s Printing Press at Russell.
# Expression Original Meaning Current Meaning
1 Skiving Off Cutting off the rough parts of the leather, using a skive blade. The easiest step in the process. Doing less work than all the others.
2 A dab hand Dabbing the print type with ink using a daub made of a wooden cone in dog’s skin. Dog’s skin was used as it is the least porous leather. Someone who is expert at their chosen field of endeavour.
3 Upper case and lower case Capital letters were separated from their lower case equivalents and sorted into individual compartments, for easy selection. Still in use today.
4 Mind your p’s and q’s When you disassemble the type from the press into their individual compartments, you made sure not to mix up these two particular letters because they look so similar, especially since they are reversed. If you were sloppy and got this wrong, this was considered a breach of etiquette. Mind your manners – or get it right.
5 Cut to the chase The hole which is cut into the protective layer (known as the chase) into which the paper is placed, which lines up with where the letters are placed. Cut through all the dross and get to the meat of the story.
6 Coin a phrase Originally a French word “quoin” which were the small wedges of wood which were used to jam in and lodge all the other straight pieces of wood, which were the margins around the text. To invent and/or repeat a distinctly unique combination of words.
7 First impressions The first time a stencil is used, the first imprint of ink on paper, which is carefully scrutinised to ensure for quality. The first image of somebody, especially in a new situation, especially to evaluate them for suitability.
8 Keep at bay This printing press couldn’t afford to coat the outer edges of their books with gold in order to preserve the paper from attacks by insects, so they used Bay leaves instead. To keep something separated from something else.
9 Turn over a new leaf Take the bay leaf out of the book and put it into a new part of the book, so as to spread its scent around. To improve one’s outlook and/or behaviour.
Hamish Skivving Off
Hamish Skivving Off

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