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Why is agate called "agate"?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by HejiraHenry, May 8, 2008.

  1. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    A guy in the office asked that tonight and I'm damned if I know. Thoughts?
  2. TwoGloves

    TwoGloves Active Member

    We had a guy who used to call it "spagat." As in sports agate.
  3. jambalaya

    jambalaya Member

    I believe it defines one inch of column, or is it limited purely to size of the text used?
  4. editorhoo

    editorhoo Member

    Always thought it was short for aggregate.
  5. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    It's called agate because it's called agate, roll the bones.
  6. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    "Agate" is a unit of measurement. Typographical, 5.5 points. Two lines per pica, or close to it. It's the smallest type that is still considered readable.
    In print advertising, it's the smallest measurement.
  7. Rambler

    Rambler Member

    Indeed, it's the size of type.
  8. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Yes. I have a large metal ruler from an old NYC ad agency -- so old the telephone number starts with two letters -- and one side of it measures agate lines.
  9. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    I thought it was named after the small rock.
  10. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    I skimmed the Internet, Dooley, and I think it's both. Long ago, the type size now known as "agate" was the smallest that could be readably carved into a signet ring - the kind you'd use to seal a document with wax. The stone most often used for these rings was agate.
  11. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    So both a floor wax and a dessert topping
  12. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

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