Seen any funny typos in the paper lately? Sure, sloppy spelling and fractured syntax occasionally elude the overworked copy editors of 2011. But the real howlers, the kind that can land a hapless editor in the boss's office, are rare. After poring over thousands of old newspaper pages dating back to the 1860s, I've concluded that amusing typos were more common in the days of handset type and a minimalist approach to proofreading.
From the New York Graphic, via the Minneapolis Tribune:
|I doubt the Albert Lea Enterprise published any amusing typos in the late 1800s under the sober leadership of Clint L. Luce, who also served as the Freeborn County coroner. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)|
Funny Typographical Errors.
Some typographical errors are very funny. In a New York paper recently the words “This Port Said is” was rendered “This,” Pat said, “is,” and “Put out the flag” appeared as “Pat cut the hog.”
When B.F. Taylor’s poem on Burns’ Centennial was telegraphed from Chicago a few years ago, the first line, “Heart of leal! Can this be dying?” appeared in the papers coupled with the operator’s warning, “Robert Burns is passing by heart of lead can this be lying?”
Horace Greeley wrote at the head of an editorial, “William H. Seward,” and it came out “Richard the Third!” A New Haven editor wrote, “Is there balm in Gilead?” and was surprised at table next morning to read, “Is there a barn in Guilford?” The sentence, “Americans are generous and forgiving,” was recently transformed into “Americans are Germans and foreigners.”
But the worst, perhaps, is that quotation made by a distinguished literary review, 'Tis true, 'tis pity, pity, 'tis, 'tis true,” which came out in proof, “ 'Tis two, 'tis fifty, 'tis fifty, 'tis fifty-two.”
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Elizabeth Gilfillan, a native of northern Minnesota, made a delightful appearance on “What’s My Line?” in 1952.
Without major league sports or even a decent shopping mall, entertainment options were somewhat limited in these parts in 1915. Twin City Lines, which ran the streetcars, used this three-column ad in the Minneapolis Morning Tribune to drum up interest in trips to the “wonderful” new state prison outside Stillwater.
Most men are anxious for appreciation in their homes and feel frustrated unless this is expressed. After all, they battle the world all day and want peace at home.
“We’re bringing her to the hospital now! Have the doctors ready! We’ll be there in five minutes!” When the foregoing message in an agitated woman’s voice rang in her ear over the telephone, Miss Olive Johnson, night superintendent of nurses at St. Barnabas Hospital, got into action with the speed of professional system. She sensed at least a serious automobile accident. Within the stipulated five minutes two physicians, the night surgeon, two nurses and three or four attendants stood mobilized in the operating room.
Mrs. Helga Estby and her daughter, Clara Estby, of Spokane, Wash., who last year performed the marvelous feat of walking from Spokane to New York city, arrived in Minneapolis last evening on their way home, and are at present at the Excelsior-Scandia house. They came from Chicago, which city they left May 5.