Books from the 1800's

brockfrench's picture

I'm looking through some books from the 1800's within Google Books, and I found a few specimens where, on the bottom right corner of body copy, on every page, is the first word which will follow on the next page. Deviating from the body copy, all of these 'preview examples' are printed in the same font/face/size as what is to follow...

This seems like a function of keeping print material in order, but the pages are also numbered...

Then I thought this may be done for reading purposes, so an orator is primed with something to say while the page is being turned...


Any insight would be great.

PublishingMojo's picture

That's a catchword, defined on Wikipedia as "a word placed at the foot of a handwritten or printed page that is meant to be bound along with other pages in a book. The word anticipates the first word of the following page. It was meant to help the bookbinder or printer make sure that the leaves were bound in the right order or that the pages were set up in the press in the right order."

brockfrench's picture

Perfect. Thanks so much.

aluminum's picture

I always thought the term catchword referred to the decorative 'for/and/with' type words ala:

I wasn't aware of this use. Interesting!

oldnick's picture

Well, if you think about it, this practice serves a very practical purpose, if you understand the context.

Once upon a time, setting type meant placing individual, cast-metal letters in a composing stick, then manually justifying the line with spacing slugs, then transferring that line to a make-up form, and continuing the process. Which is hard enough, but the compositor had to work backwards while he or she was doing this, so it is not simple task. I worked for awhile at a print shop that still had foundry type and one guy who knew the art and craft. It was quite amazing.

So, you figure that the page numbers ought to be enough to keep things in order, except for the fact that, every now and then, you have front material, which also has to be numbered; plus, perhaps, plates of various kinds. So, page numbering was probably the LAST thing that got done. So, leaving little "placeholders" in the locked up forms probably helped the compositor keep track of where he was, and what was supposed to come next.

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