Page 6 - January 2014
P. 6

I HAVE always been interested in the              that printers in those days usually worked at
derivaƟon and meaning of the word                 weekends!
“Wayzgoose”, not least because it is such
an interesƟng sounding word, and one not          The Monotype NewsleƩer states that as a
well known outside prinƟng circles. Thus I        preamble to the fesƟviƟes it was customary
was delighted to come across an arƟcle in         for the journeymen to renew the paper
the February 1964 Monotype NewsleƩer on           windows in the workshop. This paper was
the “Wayzgoose”, the spelling that was in         used to shield the dampened stock from the
use around the Ɵme of Moxon’s Mechanick           sun, in order to prevent it drying during a
Exercises of 1683. However, there is no           press run. Having completed this task, the
explanaƟon of the derivaƟon of the word           journeymen would be entertained at the
which later gained a ‘z’, possibly because        master’s house and given a good ‘feast’.
this referred to a stubblegoose, which was        In the evening the celebraƟons were carried
suggested might have been the principle dish      on at the local tavern, paid in part by the
                                                  master. The master oŌen leŌ aŌer the

The Wazygoose

served at the feast. It is now thought that this  dinner on the grounds that his presence
is complete nonsense. But the spelling with       tended to have a chastening effect on the
the ‘z’ has survived.                             men. The enjoyments were described as
                                                  uproarious, consisƟng of grog-drinking and
According to the Oxford English DicƟonary         gutsy rendering of songs with ear spliƫng
(OED), the wayzgoose was originally an            chorusses. The Chapel talk on the following
entertainment given by a master-printer to        day was that many men were carried home,
his workmen to mark the beginning of the          some reamed the streets all night, and those
season of working by candlelight. In later use,   with squeamish stomachs were disabled by
it meant an annual fesƟvity held in summer        over-indulgence for several days. Nothing
by the employees of a prinƟng establishment,      changes……..
consisƟng of a dinner and (usually) an
excursion into the country. TradiƟonally          There were many criƟcs of the 19th century
this was held on or around 24th August,           "Wayzgoose", who objected to the depraved
Bartholomew-Ɵde, St Bartholomew being the         happenings on moral grounds. One who wrote
patron saint of bookbinders (amongst other        in the Printers’ Register of 1880 said: "seven
things)—coincidentally this was also the date     courses of detestable gluƩony washed down
on which Gutenberg completed his bible in         with inordinate quanƟƟes of the worst kind of
1456. Over Ɵme, however, the date of the          liquor, produced drunkenness and revelry that
wayzgoose varied to any day in late summer.       did the trade great harm”.
Here is an advert for an OUP wayzgoose
held in July 1900—it’s worth bearing in mind      With the advent of the railways, more

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