J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, May 22, 2023

More Reporting from Rennsylvania

Yesterday I posted about how an error crept into our cultural reading of the Pennsylvania Gazette’s “JOIN, or DIE.” snake emblem.

Here, thanks to History Dame (as seen on Instagram and Twitter), are three products on sale at the Franklin Institute that use images derived from the Library of Congress’s copy of that newspaper.

A T-shirt:

A sticker:
A tote bag:
As you can see, the speck in the paper touching the “P.” in a single copy of the newspaper at the Library of Congress keeps coming out as an “R”.

Ryan Strause shared several other examples, from various manufacturers and gift shops, during his talk on this topic at History Camp Valley Forge. For some a graphic designer even recreated the picture with modern type, including an “R”. Now that he’s alerted me to this quirk, I’m never going to be able to unsee it.

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