In Mark Helprin's "A Winter's Tale" (the book) I have a memory of a mnemonic mentioned when discussing one of the printing machines. Something about coins being used to remember an angle.

  1. Does anyone remember the mnemonic?

  2. Is it real?

1 Answer 1


As a mnemonic (memory device) the coin's date is used as a reminder for setting the angle on tattle release notchets.

“I’ll prove it if you’d like,” he said, guiding them into a far corner to a set of handles that seemed locked onto the floor.
“We’ve never known what these are, either,” they admitted.
“These? These are the tattle release notchets. Look,” he instructed, turning the handles. “You set the tapered ends at this angle. Oh, I see, it’s eighty-three degrees. That’s why the silver dollar is an eighteen eighty-three—it’s a memory device. And it frees the perfection tattles.”
“Sure, there are probably two dozen of them spread about, from the looks of the place. It’s like that with machinery of this sort. You always have to go across the room to find the release for the part you’re working on.
When they designed it, they had more in mind than just power in and power out. The whole business is like a giant puzzle. It’s sort of an equation. The pieces are interrelated, as if they were the instruments of an orchestra. To be the conductor, ” Peter Lake said with a grin, “you have to know every instrument. And you have to know the music.”
Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin (1983)

A 'tattle' is any extraneous device that alerts a machine operator to an anomalous event on an unattended machine. These could be as analog as a spring loaded clip that releases if a shaft spins too fast or as digital as the 'Paper Jam' display on your office copy machine.

However, I have no idea what a tattle release notchet is or does so 83° could be appropriate or not.

  • 5
    The "comely engine" appears to be an entirely fictional device capable of 100% efficient burning of fuel. A tattle is a fictional part of a fictional device.
    – Valorum
    Sep 2, 2019 at 15:48
  • 5
    @Valorum Believe it or not, a Tattle is a release vent indicator for pressure leaks. Seriously. 'TATTLING, NOT ALWAYS A BAD THING'.
    – user118610
    Sep 2, 2019 at 23:38

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