broken type ☜☞ tipo dañado

Damaged sorts can be useful to scholars. [1] One copy of an edition of La estatua de Prometeo (in private collection), seems very similar to copies in the Boston Athenaeum (10066) and the University of Kansas (13868). After closer examination, we can see that all three are from the same edition because the bottom bar of the E of ESTATUA is bent, the cross-bar of the first T is notched, and the E of DON PEDRO is seriously damaged in the same way in all three.

The New York Public Library has two copies of a different edition of La estatua de Prometeo (12816, 12817). In this case we can see that the A of COMEDIA has a deep nick in the right-hand leg; the same damaged A is visible in Antes que todo es mi dama (NYPL 12418); in Apolo y Climene (NYPL 12423) and Argenis y Poliarco (NYPL 12427) the damaged A appears as the first A of FAMOSA. All four editions were almost certainly produced by the same printer. In this case the important point is that the fake edition of Calderón’s Segunda parte (“1683”) held by the Biblioteca Nacional (R/11346) makes use of a copy of the same suelta of Argenis; and the fake’s copy of Judas Macabeo matches the suelta in CUNY, Queens College (1060), as we can tell from the first A of FAMOSA. We also note that in the A of JUDAS the outer serif of the left leg is bent upwards. We know that the fake was produced around 1700–1710 (although some of the sueltas may be a little earlier), but the identity of most of those who produced it is still unknown. Broken and damaged type may provide some answers for the bibliographic sleuth. [DWC]

[1] The wooden hand-press generated a thrust of over 3000 kg. at the toe of the spindle, which sits on the platen. The platen (about 45–49 × 29–32 cm.) therefore pressed the paper on to the type at around 2 kg. per square centimeter, or 30 lbs. per square inch. The ink, produced by a mixture of boiled linseed oil and ground lamp-black, was very sticky, and the leather ink-balls which were used to transfer it to the type could easily pick up grit and other small, hard objects, which were driven into the soft type-metal by the press. Serifs and kerns (parts of a piece of type which project beyond the sides, such as the top of the f or the long ſ or the tail of the italic Q) were particularly vulnerable: even dropping type could break off the kern.

See also: dropped letters, font
Consult also: bite of the type in Miscellanies
La estatua de Prometeo

These examples show the identical serious damage in all three cases: bottom bar of the E of ESTATUA is bent, the crossbar of the first T is notched, and the E of DON PEDRO. They are proof that they are from the same edition.

[left and middle copies, New York Public Library; right copy, Private collection SzT]