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Understood. My comments were meant only as amplification.
> Some typographers apparently used strips of copper.
Yes, in places. Leads of one point and higher were generally lead or
typemetal. Half-point spacers might be copper. I never encountered them.
Seems to me brass would be more likely for longer measures, as it would
hold its shape better during rough handling and reuse, but perhaps
copper was used for narrower measures.
However, in setting foundry type (cast individual sorts that the
compositor picks from a case and assembles in lines in a handheld device
called a composing stick), it is necessary to fill out each line of type
to the full measure. If you are justifying, the extra spaces go between
words. If you are setting ragged, the extra spaces go at one or both
ends of the line. But in either case, the line has to be full. This is
accomplished by adding quads (one en, one em, two em, three em), thin
spaces (one-third of an em--the standard word space in ragged text),
brasses (one point) and coppers (one-half point). The last line of a
justified paragraph is "quadded out."
> uncle-in-law of mine, who began working in the newspaper busines
> in the 1930s, claims that he even used wadded up pieces of paper
> or wood chips if the deadline was nearing and he was desperate.
> Possibly, though, he was exaggerating. for the sake of a good
Hmmm. Coulda been pulling your leg. I never heard of this, but who
knows. Anyone got any direct experience with that would confirm this?