ASCII Art 1888
December 9, 2009 9:45 PM   Subscribe

ASCII art of 12 April 1888. A map of Michigan's dry counties. "We found this part troublesome enough to set, and if any printer thinks it a simple job, he may try it for two or three days."
posted by jjray (28 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
posted by empath at 9:51 PM on December 9, 2009

Bad ass.
posted by autodidact at 10:11 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by grouse at 10:21 PM on December 9, 2009

I don't quite understand the drawing of the butterfly — the borders look reasonable, but the butterfly lines look too smooth to have been made with letters...

And this reminds me of my favorite piece of old-school typographical art, a ship made of dingbats that I found without context. Having set type on a letterpress, I wish I could see how they set it up!
posted by dreamyshade at 10:29 PM on December 9, 2009 [4 favorites]

Talk about getting a compliment. This is the blogger here, thanking you for so kindly posting my story on Metafilter. I am very honored! I'm a regular reader and I just stopped by tonight to see what was up and lo!--you had linked my post! Whoa.

My dad was a Heidelberg printing press mechanic for over 30 years. I used to go out with him on field calls around SE Michigan to repair giant four-color offset printing presses. I'm a writer of local history stories for my little community in SE Michigan. My mom has remarked that my work is kind of a continuation of his work, and I cherish that thought. My dad has a circa 1900 five-foot-high, two-ton cast iron plate press in his garage, with a big flywheel, at this moment which I hope to buy from him, and set up in my, uh, living room (husband is long-suffering).

Incidentally, this ASCII story is one of the stories in my book and I understand and respect that it's frowned upon to plug oneself here, so I will not. If you'd like to learn about it though, I've posted some info in the comments over there on the blog.

Thank you, jjray and Mefites. I am honored! (curtseys)!
posted by Dusty Diary at 10:31 PM on December 9, 2009 [25 favorites]

Well, actually it's letterpress art. ASCII wouldn't be invented for 75 years yet.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:31 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think it might be awesome, but the background makes it too busy for my delicate sensibilities. Can we pass an amendment against cluttered page design? I'll build a map of supporters with my Selectric.
posted by cmfletcher at 10:34 PM on December 9, 2009

this is wonderful
posted by rebent at 10:36 PM on December 9, 2009

That's a pretty damned neat map.

Also, thank you, dreamyshade, for nipping the nascent alphabet thread in the bud.
posted by maqsarian at 10:37 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

the butterfly lines look too smooth to have been made with letters...

Remember the the paper can be loosened on the typewriter, and the adjustment of each single period can be adjusted as precisely as the artist has patience for, you are not restricted to the natural spacings of the letters like you usually are on a computer.
posted by idiopath at 11:02 PM on December 9, 2009

Holy cow. Sir, though you are long dead, I doff my virtual hat at your craftsmanship. That tool was completely unsuited to the task at hand, and not only did you make it work, you made it work well. I wonder how many people at the time noticed what an extraordinary job you did?

What a neat find, Dusty Diary and jjray.
posted by Malor at 11:10 PM on December 9, 2009

Funny how the post is about the graphic (which is truly awesome) - but I grew up in Livingston and Jackson counties - and came of drinking age in Jackson county before moving to Washtenaw. I don't know if it's still the case, but you couldn't buy alcohol in any of these counties on Sunday until noon. I worked in a small corner store (what we would call "party stores") which sold beer and wine, and the line at the counter at 11:55 on Sunday was truly a sight to see. So funny for me to see that this statute originated in 1815 and was still going strong in 1992.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:25 PM on December 9, 2009

That map is quite's similar to my beloved Typotecture.
posted by redsparkler at 11:53 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Entering Charlevoix...


Which potion would you like to quaff? [c,d,e,*]


You quaff an amber potion. [more]
Ooph! This tastes like liquid fire![more]
You alert the guards! [more]
"Hey! You can't drink that here!"[more]
The guard hits! The guard hits! The guard hits! [more]
You have a headache... [more]

posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:10 AM on December 10, 2009 [15 favorites]

The information conveyed by the map seems apposite, because you'd need a few stiff drinks after setting that. Hope the print shop wasn't in one of the dry counties. Great post.
posted by Abiezer at 12:44 AM on December 10, 2009

Yeah, sure. It looks cool. But lemme tell you, I grew up in Washtenaw County, and climbing over those curly braces all the damn time was no picnic.

Uphill both ways! In a blizzard! And nothing to eat but slab serifs!
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:08 AM on December 10, 2009 [8 favorites]

I used to do a huge amount of business with a printer in Ypsilanti. Sadly they weren't the amazing-experimental-typographic-cartography type, they were more the let's-bind-your-poster-map-into-the-wrong-book-and-then-sell-a-couple-of-cases-under-the-table-to-local-stores-and-hope-you-don't-find-out type.
posted by Hogshead at 1:41 AM on December 10, 2009

From the website:
"She used hyphens, slashies, brackets, periods, some o's, and a single judicious asterisk." (pic)

Dear Dusty Diary,
Please tell me where the asterisk is, I can't find it and it's making me silly.

(Unless you were adding a bit of flavor to the story which is totally ok by me.)
posted by vapidave at 2:47 AM on December 10, 2009

That looks a lot like Dwarf Fortress.

Then again, everything starts to look like Dwarf Fortress after a while. Of course, any sufficiently advanced dwarf simulator is indistinguishable from the real world.
posted by krilli at 3:22 AM on December 10, 2009 [4 favorites]

Friggin awesome post!!!

-Ypsi Resident
posted by JoeXIII007 at 4:02 AM on December 10, 2009

As an old fart who began his training hunkered over a California job case, I am utterly astounded by that map. You young-uns, for whom Adobe Type Manager marks the extent of "back in the day," have no idea the extent of the awesomeness of that map. That typesetter is a god.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:32 AM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

Metafilter: a ship made of dingbats
posted by kcds at 5:07 AM on December 10, 2009 [5 favorites]

Heh, I had scrubbed my brain of all things relating to Adobe Type Manager until this very moment. It used to be a mandatory install if you wanted to convert text to outlines in Adobe Illustrator until Mac OS X hit the streets (was the situation any different on Windows boxes of the day?)

ATM was buggy, too - used to be able to consistently freeze the Mac OS 9 Finder at bootup time if I dared to launch an app/open a folder right when the Finder appeared.
posted by porn in the woods at 5:38 AM on December 10, 2009

I had to got to set type for a little "From the Desk of My Name" memo pad in my printing class in high school. Something like this just blows my mind.
posted by marxchivist at 5:45 AM on December 10, 2009

It's not just a tour de force, it's actually beautiful. There's something quite sensitive in the way the curves are drawn and the county names are set. And the waves around Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti are awesome.

One thing that makes ASCII art easier is you (almost always) use a fixed width font. No such luck on this map, so getting those vertical lines to line up is quite a trick. I can't quite figure out the spacing of the coast outline, though, the little connected diamonds. What is that symbol, is it a double dagger ‡? It looks a bit more like two diamonds connected. Whatever it is, the spacing suggests a bit of the constraint of the typesetting options he had. I like how it's turned on its side sometimes.
posted by Nelson at 6:21 AM on December 10, 2009

Vapidave: I have looked at that amazing butterfly until I thought my eyes would fall out and I cannot for the life of me find the asterisk, sorry. What a work of art, and concentration.
posted by Dusty Diary at 9:51 AM on December 10, 2009

Vapidave: I have looked at that amazing butterfly until I thought my eyes would fall out and I cannot for the life of me find the asterisk, sorry.

Do butterflies have assholes?
posted by FatherDagon at 10:46 AM on December 10, 2009

Jeez Louise. Wonder how long that took.

Just the good ol' Yoopers,
Never meanin' no harm,
Beats all you've ever saw, been in trouble with the law since the day they was born.
Straight'nin' the curves,
Dethawin the snowmobile,.
Someday the big lakes might get 'em, but the FIPs never will.
Making Michigan lefts,
The only way they know how,
That's just a little bit more than the law will allow.
Just good old Yoopers,
Wouldn't change if they could,
Fightin' the SecretariahState like a true modern day Robin Hood, you guys.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:44 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

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