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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 4

[trade dispatches]

The last San Francisco mail brought us specimens of several new type faces, but so few that we hold over our usual review.

The latest development of German founders' enterprise is to cast all job-letters to the American point standard for the English and American markets. We imagine, however, that this would be impossible in the case of combination borders cut to the German standard. We may yet see the English inch the world's type standard! The reform is now within measurable distance. Continental founders must recognize that the Didot point has no practical relation to the metric system; and, as we have long since shown at length, the decimal system of subdivision is not appropriate in type gradations.

The Picturesque Atlas still occupies the courts, and the hapless subscribers generally get the worst of it. A Melbourne man named C. C. Bentley appealed against a judgment in favor of the company on the ground that the plaintiffs had broken the contract by not delivering the work according to promise. The full court decided against him, and awarded the company one hundred guineas costs. Apart from his own legal expenses (which must be heavy), Mr Bentley has therefore paid £115 10s for his book. It is probable, however, that, as it was a test case, other subscribers have contributed part of the money. A New Zealand subscription work, the « Early History of New Zealand, » is now giving rise to similar trouble. In Christchurch the agent took out a hundred summonses against subscribers who refused to accept delivery. One defendant pleaded that he had cancelled the order, but the magistrate held that this could not be done.

We greatly regret to record the complete destruction by fire of the old Government Printing Office, Wellington. The building was occupied by the lithographic department, and also used as a storeroom for stationery and printed works. The fire broke out very mysteriously at 1.45 a.m. on the 8th October, and rapidly spread through the whole building. A few books and papers were saved, but the whole lithographic plant was destroyed. There were about 1500 stones, some with as much as eighteen months' work upon them. The loss of much of this work is irreparable. All the valuable cameras in the photo-lithographic department are destroyed; but the large new lens (referred to in the report of the department—vide Typo, p. 93 of this volume) was found uninjured in the iron safe after the fire. There was a night-watchman employed on the premises, and the establishment was well provided with fire-hoses, but the watchman—when he discovered the fire—could not get to them, and in fact had no little difficulty in getting out of the building. The printing department loses:—Printing paper, £700; millboards and binding material, £75; printed stationery, £350; Ancient History of the Maori (2000 volumes), £875; parchment forms, £175; statute and other books, £1300; machinery, £300. The Survey Department lost two steam printing presses, gas-engine, stone-grinding machine, six hand-presses and one large press, besides litho. stones and photo, apparatus already mentioned. The total damage is estimated at £8000, apart from records and other property which cannot be assessed in money value. There was no insurance. An inquiry was held, but no light whatever was thrown on the origin of the fire.

A remarkable press prosecution took place early this month. A case of alleged « land-dummyism » at Woodville had been the subject of investigation by a parliamentary committee, and proceedings in the Supreme Court followed. Much interest was taken in the affair at Woodville, and the editor of the Examiner announced his intention of publishing the evidence. Mr Morison, solicitor for one of the parties, wrote to the paper, forbidding the publication, under penalty of legal proceedings. Mr Haggen replied by publishing the report of the evidence—a public document—in full in the Examiner of 1st inst. No one expected that the solicitor would carry out his threats, but he did so, ana put Mr Haggen to considerable inconvenience and expense. On the 8th October a Supreme Court writ was served, setting forth that Mr Haggen « be attached and committed to prison or fined for contempt of this Honorable Court for publishing, » &c. The application was for the case to be heard in chambers, but instead of this it was heard in banco before Mr Justice Edwards, and fully reported. The result was only to re-affirm the principle, which everybody (except Mr Morison) appears to be acquainted with, that parliamentary papers are public property, and that their publication is protected by statute law. Mr Morison was pretty well extinguished by the Court. Arguing that the defendant should receive « substantial punishment, » he said, « Mr Haggen acted defiantly. » —His Honor: « Not with the intention of being guilty of contempt of Court. He said, 'I'll let this man see I am not going to be bounced.' » The case was dismissed, and plaintiff ordered to pay Mr Haggen's costs, £10 10s. Mr Haggen deserves credit for upholding the privileges of the press, and refusing to be « bounced. » He was undoubtedly guilty of contempt—of lawyer; but that is not a matter for either fine or imprisonment.