Printing errors have been hitting the headlines lately and two stories in particular really stand out. In the first, an Australian cookbook has been pulped after instructing the reader to add not “freshly ground black pepper”, but “freshly ground black people”. In the second, an Indonesian man who should have been released from prison in 2007 after serving a 20-year sentence was finally released last week after a clerical error had wrongly stated his first year in prison as 1997 when it should have said 1987. These mistakes have huge implications for the people involved and make it clear to anyone that such errors can go beyond the simply humourous (although we never tire of coming across classics like this one from the South London Press: “The strike leaders had called a meeting that was to have been held in a bra near the factory, but it was too small to hold them all.”).
We have blogged before about how typos can cause massive problems but they are not a recent phenomenon. A Bible produced during the reign of King Charles I in the 1600s has one of the most infamous misprints in history. In Psalm 14:1 it reads, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is a God.” Now that is a bad one. The printer of this edition was fined ℒ3000 for this error and all copies of the Bible were suppressed immediately. The few that got out are now eagerly sought by some collectors as the “Fool’s Bible.”