335 Years Ago
The Great Comet of 1680 is known as Kirch's Comet and Newton's Comet, the former for the German astronomer Gottfried Kirch (1639-1710), who discovered it on 14 November 1680. It was the first comet to be discovered by telescope, and the latter because Isaac Newton (1642-1727) famously used the comet's trajectory to test Kepler's laws of planetary motion.
I was lucky enough to come across a copy of Mechanick Exercises on the Whole Art of Printing (Dover Edition 1962. Edited by Herbert Davis and Harry Carter). I've been reading through it, but wanted to share part about the elevated status printers once held ...and the seriousness of the profession.*
Customs of the Chappel
(As An Appendix)
Ancient Customs used in a
Every Printing-house is by the Custom of Time out of mind, called a Chappel; and all the Workmen that belong to it are Members of the Chappel: and the Oldest Freeman is Father of the Chappel. I suppose the stile was originally conferred upon it by the courtesie of some great Churchman, or men, (doubtless when Chappels were in more veneration than of late years they have been here in England) who for the Books of Divinity that proceeded from a Printing-house, gave it the Reverend Title of Chappel.
There have been formerly Customs and By-Laws made and intended for the well and good Government of the Chappel, and for the more Civil and orderly deportment of all its members while in the Chappel; and the Penalty for the breach of any of these Laws and Customs is in Printers Langage called a Solace.**
And the Judges of these Solaces, and other Controversies relating to the Chappel, or any of its Members, was plurality of Votes in the Chappel. It being asserted as a Maxim, That the Chappel cannot Err. But when any Controversie is thus decided, it always ends in the Good of the Chappel.
1. Swearing in the Chappel, a Solace.
2. Fighting in the Chappel, a Solace.
3. Abusive Language, or giving the Ly in the Chappel, a Solace.
4. To be Drunk in the Chappel, a Solace.
5. For any of the Workmen to leave his Candle burning at Night, a Solace.
6. If the Compositer let fall his Composing-stick, and another take it up, a Solace.
7. Three Letters and a Space to lye under the Compositers Case, a Solace.
8. If a Press-man lets fall his Ball or Balls, and another take it up, a Solace.
9. If a Press-man leave his Blankets in the Tympan at Noon or Night, a Solace.
These Solaces were to be bought off, for the good of the Chappel: Nor were the price of these Solaces alike: For some were 12d. 6d. 4d. 1d. ob. according to the nature and quality of the Solace.
But if the Delinquent prov'd Obstinate or Refractory, and would not pay his Solace at the Price of the Chappel; they Solac'd him.
The manner of Solacing, thus.
The Workmen take him by force, and lay him on his Belly athwart the Correcting-stone, and held him there while another of the Work-men, with a Paper-board, gave him 10 l. and a Purse, viz
Eleven blows on his Buttocks; which he laid on according to his own mercy. For Tradition tells us, that about 50 years ago one was Solaced with so much violence, that he presently Pissed Blood, and shortly after dyed of it.
*Taken verbatim pages 323-24. Mechanik Exercises on the Whole Art of Printing (1683-4) by Joseph Moxon. Second Edition of Dover Publications, 1962.
**Solace. According to the O.E.D., the word in this sense is confined to the printing-trade. The French equivalent is "amende."
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Author Pat Earnest, currently lives in Dover, Delaware, with family, both two- and four-footed. I am a published author and history enthusiast, who has great regard for the past and is especially proud of the Pennsylvania German culture. In addition to Passed Time, I am currently working on a project for the German Historical Institutes Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies (http://www.ghi-dc.org). I also contribute to various newsletters and I am working on another book...or two. Feel free to email me at email@example.com with questions, comments, information, a shared love of history, an idea, because you want to chat or you have an great idea for PT. Please be aware, Files With Attachments will not be opened, but immediately deleted.