1920s Typography: space before or after contraction apostrophe

(Cross-posted from english.stackexchangecom since folks here are more likely to have come across this sort of thing before.)

In the 1928 Scribner’s (NY) edition of The Plays of J. M. Barrie, I’ve noticed an odd convention: where a contraction happens in middle of a word (e.g., “don’t” for “do n(o)t”), the apostrophe has the usual appearance. But when the contraction removes the entire first part of the word (e.g., “it’s” for “it (i)s” or “I’ll” for “I (wi)ll”), the typesetters consistently left the inter-word space there: not “it’s” or “I’ll” but “it␣’s” or “I␣’ll” (using ‘␣’ to represent a space):


A punctuation mark and sometimes a diacritic mark, in Latin fonts and languages. In English it has two main functions: it marks omissions, and it assists in marking the possessives of all nouns and many pronouns.

The apostrophe differs from the closing single quotation mark, often rendered identically but serving a different purpose. In limited casesit is allowed to assist in marking plurals, but most authorities now disapprove of such usage.

According to the OED, the word comes ultimately from Greek ἡ ἀπόστροφος [προσῳδία] (hē apóstrophos [prosōidía], the (accent of “turning away”, or elision), through Latin and French.