Above the arch there was a lamp, and beneath it swung a large signboard: a fat white pony reared up on its hind legs. Over the door was painted in white letters: the prancing pony by barliman butterbur. Many of the lower windows showed lights behind thick curtains.

It appears just like that in my book. No quotes. No cursive writing. No special formatting whatsoever. But this is the case in numerous other places, so it's not my book being some sort of sloppy/weird edition.

There must be some special significance to this. But what? Why would he do this?

The fact that it's also all in lower-case letters, even though both "The Prancing Pony" and "Barliman Butterbur" are spelled like I just did everywhere else, makes me really wonder if this is actually a mistake.

  • 1
    Could you please edit your question to include a citation for the quote (book, chapter, page)? That will make it easier for answerers.
    – bobble
    Apr 12, 2022 at 13:37
  • 13
    More importantly, could you please tell us which edition you're reading?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Apr 12, 2022 at 14:44

1 Answer 1


I've not been able to find a scanned early edition text in a quick search, but I have checked out the scanned copies of the 1994 Houghton Mifflin Edition and the 2001 Quality Paperback Book Club editions via the Internet Archive.

Both of these are fully authorised editions so can be expected to have a faithful rendering of the author's preferred typography. Both of these have the words that concern you capitalised. Text scan from Houghton Mifflin 1994 edition Text scan from 2001 Quality Paperback Book Blub edition.

What edition are you using? Does it pre or post-date the two editions illustrated? If you can tell us the edition people may be able to help identify if this is an error specific to that edition.

  • 19
    This may be a case of piracy/"screen-scraping"/unauthorized edition, as the "small caps" would be "lower-case encoded" letters typeset using small-caps glyphs. If the type is pulled from e.g. a PDF and then bulk re-set in e.g. TImes it might lose small caps.
    – Yorik
    Apr 12, 2022 at 18:05
  • 1
    My single-volume, rice paper edition has the same typesetting as in your photos.
    – Mick
    Apr 12, 2022 at 21:12
  • Checked two editions, both illustrated by Alan Lee, and they have the same caps in this passage.
    – l0b0
    Apr 13, 2022 at 9:04
  • 5
    I agree with Yorik's assessment, that this represents a naive extraction of text from an e-book, or OCR mistaking small-caps text for caps-and-small-caps. Here's a pirated edition on the Internet Archive with the mistake. Apr 13, 2022 at 11:40
  • 1
    @DarrelHoffman: It's not common, but it's not unheard of. It exists in the US too (eg with hotel brand names such as "Doubletree by Hilton").
    – psmears
    Apr 13, 2022 at 21:52

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