“The King of the Tramp Printers”
Adventures of a Tramp Printer: 1880-1890
John Edward Hicks
When I first read this, I was struck by the phrase “when he dumped a take, it would lift”. What exactly was a take? And how did it lift? I couldn’t quite figure out what it meant outside of my own conjecture. After several weeks of searching, and researching I got an opportunity to speak with Carl Schlessinger, who was one of the last linotype operators at the New York Times. He explained that a “take” - during the days of handset type - was a portion of copy - say a column or two in a newspaper - that was set in a chase. When it was set perfectly, with proper leading and spacing and whatnot, one could lift the chase up by the edges and the outward pressure of the tightly set type would not fall out. Dumping the take means discarding the type, or removing it from the chase for distribution. If the take stayed intact when dumped, it was said to lift.
Alternatively, the phrase could also mean that a proof (“take”) passed inspection at the dumping board (where proofreading occurred) and it “lifted” without need for correction.
I ended up making these prints after learning about the meaning of the phrase.