THERE ARE STILL WAYZGOOSES. Tyler Kelley had an article in the Wall Street Journal (November 4) about businesses which supply customers who continue to set type by hand—say, for personal stationery. A difficulty has been that that there is a shortage of the pieces of type for # and @. Kelley’s article makes reference to a printer who bought pieces of type for the pound sign in various sizes at a “wayzgoose”—a printers fair. It’s a great word. Here is the wikipedia entry for the word. It is defined as: “an entertainment given by a master printer to his workmen each year on or about St Bartholomew’s Day (24 August). It marked the traditional end of summer and the start of the season of working by candlelight”. The derivation is disputed. It may refer to a “harvest goose”, a bird eaten at harvest-time. It may also be derived from a Dutch word for an “inn” (and thus a banquet), Much of early printing vocabulary in English came from Dutch and Flemish printers. Wkipedia speculates that: “The variety of spellings and pronunciations (including with and without the “z”) indicate that it is an orally-borrowed Dutch word that fit somewhat uneasily in the mouth of English speakers.”
It is good to know that there is still a demand for pieces of type and that there are still wayzgooses.