Words and Numbers

A common error resulting from bad penmanship is the substitution of letters for figures, or the reverse: thus, in the report of a coal-market, where the writer intended to say that there was an over-supply of egg size, the types laid that there was an over-supply of 299; similarly, where a writer described a house with zigzag staircases, he was made to give it the extraordinary number of 219,209 staircases. In an obituary notice of Sidney Godolphin Osborne, the London Times described him as the author of the celebrated tract ‘No Go,’ when what the writer meant was the tract No. 90. But no similar excuse can be urged for the printer who made Tennyson’s famous lines read,–

Into the valley of death
Rode the 600.

— William Shepard Walsh, Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities, 1909