[APG Public List] Nickname question [Jane -> Jincy -> Incy]

Ray Beere Johnson II raybeere at yahoo.com
Mon Nov 23 17:23:33 MST 2009

--- On Mon, 11/23/09, Ida Skarson McCormick <idamc at seanet.com> wrote:

> Incy makes sense because at that time J and I could still
> be considered the same letter in the 24-character English
> alphabet. "Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie
> [movable type]...."

     As a former letterpress printer (with cases of handset, "movable" type still in my basement, along with the presses) and a student of printing history, I never heard of this particular association. I am interested in where you got the idea this rhyme refers to printing. (The term "pi" - not pie - is a printing term, but not one which really fits the sense of the rhyme: it means a jumbled, unsorted mess of letters. It would be a source of woe, not merriment, at least to a printer. And the rest of the rhyme is even harder to fit into a printing allegory.)
     I did some searching on my own, but all I could find was this source <http://www.snopes.com/lost/sixpence.asp> (Snopes is generally reliable), which claims a very different origin for the rhyme. So now I'm going slowly crazy trying to figure out if there is some bit of printing lore I somehow missed, or if this is simply a misunderstanding.
     (As to the letters I and J being considered the same, this is true, but by the approximate time this rhyme appears, the letter J, as well as the letter U - the other "holdout" - had already been added to the printer's typecase, at least in most shops.)
                        Ray Beere Johnson II


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