ARCHiOx is by no means the first technology to create facsimiles of ancient texts or images. The process of copying using pinholes is evident on the largest original which has so far been captured for the ARCHiOx project. Dating to the 14th century, the Gough Map is one of the earliest maps to show Great Britain in a geographically recognisable form and served as a blueprint for maps of Britain for over 150 years.
Bequeathed to the Bodleian Library by Richard Gough (1735-1809), the map is covered in over two-thousand tiny indentations which transferred the position and form of geographical features from a precursor map. Through studying these pinholes, researchers may be able to determine which features would have been present on the precursor map and in doing so, estimate when it may have been made.
This historic map has been recorded numerous times since its creation. It therefore serves as wonderful case-study in the development of copying and imaging techniques. A copper printing plate was engraved in 1780, prints from which are held in the Bodleian’s collections. Using a novel reproduction method developed at the Ordnance Survey, a photozincography recording was made in 1871. In 1958, a run of collotype prints of the Gough Map were made at Oxford University Press. The map was recorded digitally for the first time in 2006. Hyperspectral and 3D laser recordings followed nine years later, in 2015. These initial 3D recordings were conducted by the Factum Foundation’s Head of 3D scanning, Carlos Bayod.
“The recording carried out in 2015 applied the Lucida 3D Scanner to capture for the first time the topographical characteristics of this unique map. One of the first collaborations between the Bodleian Libraries and Factum Foundation, this survey allowed us to see and measure the shape and surface of the map without the colour layer, making it much easier to allocate the distribution of the pinholes, among other marks present on the relief. The information captured by the Lucida systems offers the possibility of visualizing the map’s surface on-screen as a shaded render, an image format onto which it is possible to register other layers of information such as the colour photographs. Additionally, it creates a greyscale depth map that can be used for re-materializing the data as an accurate physical reconstruction, becoming the base for creating an exact facsimile”. Carlos Bayod Lucini, Head of 3D Scanning, Factum Foundation
The photometric stereo captures made for ARCHiOx are the highest resolution recordings of the Gough Map to date. Both the front and reverse of the map were recorded at over 700,000 pixels per square inch. In order to record the map at this resolution, 85 image tiles were captured, processed and stitched together to form a single image. Prominent pinholes and scoring marks are clearly visible from the recordings. These have been analysed, using geographical information system software by Damien Bove, Researcher for The Gough Map Project and Picture Editor of Imago Mundi: International Journal for the History of Cartography
“The pricking on the Gough Map is key to its creation, marking the location and form of place signs copied through from a precursor map. Where the tool has been pressed through the skin, it has left holes. Most of these can be seen on high resolution photos and on the earlier Lucida scan. Where the tool was pressed with less force, however, it has left only small depressions. The ARCHiOx scan has allowed us to identify and measure these for the first time, giving us a fuller understanding of the earlier map.” Damien Bove, Researcher for The Gough Map Project and Picture Editor of Imago Mundi: International Journal for the History of Cartography.
But the ARCHiOx recording has not only allowed for on-screen analysis. The data has also been used to create a remarkably accurate three-dimensional facsimile of the map. Currently installed in the Bodleian’s Map Room, the facsimile provides an opportunity for close examination, ensuring that the original map need not be as frequently transported or removed from its protective casing.
“Facsimiles allow us to have a more natural connection with valuable cultural objects. Thanks to the possibility of reproducing the surface relief and colour in high resolution, a facsimile can serve a triple function contributing to the preservation, study, and dissemination of the original, for the benefit of both experts and amateurs alike”. Carlos Bayod Lucini, Head of 3D Scanning, Factum Foundation
A 9th century insular manuscript, Gregory the Great, Homiliae XL in evangelia. MS. Laud Misc. 429.
The above manuscript, Gregory the Great, Homiliae XL in evangelia, is written in Latin and dates to the first half of the 9th century. The 15th century shelfmark on folio 2, reveals that this volume was in the possession of the cathedral church of St. Kilian in Würzburg. Examples of annotations made not in ink, but through scratching the surface of the parchment using a drypoint stylus have now been discovered and recorded on twenty-five pages from this volume, using the Selene. The catalogue description for the recto of folio 74 shown in the image above, describes a drawing in the lower margin. A hunting scene, barely visible from the conventional photographic recording, but clear enough to make a partial digital annotation. Far more successful at revealing the inscription, the 3D render shows not only the illustration, but also four camouflaged letters, R, O, D, A. This demonstrates how 3D recording can compliment traditional imaging in revealing and documenting new discoveries.
The drypoint annotations recorded on folio 60r, in the image below, are inconsistent with the majority of others from this manuscript. These have been added between passages of text rather than confined to the margins. In this example, relatively deep incisions have been made, marking the position of punctuation. Far less obvious and perhaps only recognisable from the 3D render is a small, marginal illustration showing two hands, tied together with a bow.
In order to determine whether or how this annotation might relate to the text, the image above was shared with Jo Story, Professor of Early Medieval History, Leicester University. Her interpretation reveals a clear link between annotation and text. The text from this homily describes the stoning of Stephen. The translation of folio 60r begins ‘when Stephen was dying for his faith, Saul kept the clothes of the stoners. Therefore, he himself stoned them all with his own hands, who returned all the works to the stoners.’ The connection between inscription and text is most evident from the passage at the end of the fourth line ‘Duo ergo sunt que’ –‘because many are called but few are chosen’ – Chapter 22:14 from the Gospel of Matthew. This passage immediately follows the verse ‘Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Dozens of similar recordings of unlinked manuscript annotations have now been captured using ARCHiOx technology. The discovery of the name ‘Eadburg’ from another of the Bodleian’s early medieval manuscripts by PhD candidate Jessica Hodgkinson (University of Leicester) is described in a previous Conveyor post. Recordings from these two manuscripts have demonstrated that photometric stereo recording is extremely effective and is likely to hold the key to documenting incised markings from similar volumes. Revealing these markings which have remained undetected for centuries is an incredibly exciting application of this new technology.
“The new photometric stereo recording methods that are being pioneered by John and the ARCHiOX team are transformative. The method allows us to see the surface of the pages in much greater detail than ever before and will give us insights into the preparation of the membrane and the methods used to make the quires, as well as acts of reading and engagement with the book after it was completed. New, and almost invisible, marks are now easily seen – revealing huge amounts of new information about medieval book culture – and the people who made and read them. This changes what we can do, the questions we can ask, and the answers that are revealed.” Jo Story, Professor of Early Medieval History, Leicester University.
Guest blog article by Eleanor Clark, winner of the Colin Franklin Prize for Book-Collecting 2023.
I first encountered Winifred Holtby’s South Riding in Exeter’s Oxfam shop, in a worn Virago reprint. I was twelve and didn’t yet know to hold out for the darker green originals. The novel is nearly 600 pages long, including maps and character lists. Exactly the kind of tome that a bookish twelve-year-old can devour in a week, moving only to dodge footballs in the playground. I think if I came across it now, I’d find it harder to commit to. There’s a voraciousness to being twelve which I doubt I’ll ever see again. It’s fortuitous, then, that books, like people, sometimes come along at precisely the right moment in our lives.
On dust jacket of the first edition of South Riding, Jonathan Cape describes it as ‘unquestionably the greatest novel we have been privileged to publish’. Not even Virago would write that about Holtby today. Until I held this copy of South Riding in my hands – the first edition I’ve been privileged to be able to buy for the Library as part of the Colin Franklin Prize – I had no idea that Cape had written this endorsement. The ‘middlebrow’ label has not only completely swamped many interwar women writers’ works, but swallowed what they once meant to readers. I think the familiar generic forms of these fictions veil a quiet radicalism that allows readers, especially women, to envisage a life beyond social prescription, a life on the fringes of the possible. And in many cases, the radicalism isn’t even particularly quiet.
My collection began with a dust jacket-less first edition of Vera Brittain’s Humiliation with Honour, for £2.50. The Prologue is an epistle to Brittain’s son, with whom she had a complex relationship. The letter might read as a mother who prioritised political and literary life belatedly acknowledging her child. But my copy denies that reading. A child’s heavy scribbles cover the title page and prologue, over a scrawled inscription from 1943. I like to imagine it plucked from a busy mother’s handbag and defaced before she notices. A male dominated market desires purity, but real life is more truly captured when high textual ideas and messy material reality incorporate each other.
My copy of Thrice a Stranger extends this principle from feminism to socialism. This is a scarce title and, as a Gollancz publication, scarcer still with dust jacket. My copy is signed but bears three Manchester Public Library stamps. The co-existence of value-augmenting signature and value-diminishing stamps fascinates me. It’s possible that Brittain, a committed socialist, chose to sign a library copy to which working people had access.
This is why I collect books: the physical object is where we see readers interacting with texts. Rare book markets stigmatise marks left by readers, unless they are the ‘right’ kind of reader: the illustrious kind. I find this completely nonsensical. How can evidence that a book has been read, listened to, and loved, by the audience for whom it was written possibly diminish its value? Only if our notions of the value of stories are themselves warped.
I am proud that my collection includes damaged books. I can’t pretend I intended it to be so: I began collecting both cluelessly and pennilessly. But now I find that collecting books whose market value is derided is part of the work of revalorising texts whose critical fortunes have also fallen. I value the ‘middlebrow’, and I value its readers.
When I survey my collection, I feel the tenacity of these writers. Women like Holtby, Brittain, Spark and Bowen were not always brave and bold, but they wrote women who are. They write us all how we would like ourselves to be – a little bit more self-confident. Copies of their books that embody that self-confidence, that defiance of odds and social standards; copies that make testaments to the youth that grew up with them – those are the copies I want on my bookshelf.
The 2023 Colin Franklin Prize for Book Collecting has been awarded to Eleanor Clark for her collection of first edition books by female authors 1900-2000, documenting women’s literary lives in the twentieth-century. Writing of her collection, which includes both fiction and non-fiction, Eleanor describes how she pays attention to just to the text but also to material imperfections: “A male dominated market desires purity, but real life is more truly captured when high textural ideas and messy material reality incorporate each other.” Eleanor is in her second year, studying BA English Language and Literature at Merton College, Oxford University. You can read more about Eleanor’s collection in her blog article here.
On receiving the award, Eleanor said: “I’m delighted to have won the Colin Franklin Prize: over the last few weeks, my eyes have been opened to the world of rare books in Oxford, and I’ve been able to hold in my hands a near-pristine first edition of South Riding, the novel that started it all. I’m hugely grateful to everyone involved in the prize.”
Funder of the Colin Franklin Prize Anthony Davis said of the submissions 2023: “This was the ninth year of the Colin Franklin Book Collecting Prize and as always the standard of entrants was very high indeed making choosing a winner hard. Apparently Oxford students collect subjects as diverse as books about happiness, children’s editions of Chaucer and Faber jacket designs; one entrant has 288 miniature books at the last count. After difficult decisions we awarded the prize to Eleanor who collects books about Women’s Literary Lives and has found books to treasure even in charity shops. We were very impressed with the way Eleanor related to the books and what they represented not just to authors but to prior owners too. The judges look for a sense of the physical materiality of the books and Eleanor showed a close connection with hers, writing a perceptive essay about how the books as physical objects tell stories about their context and histories. Congratulations to Eleanor!”
Keeper Special Collections, Chris Fletcher, and one of the judges on the prize said of Eleanor’s essay: “I was impressed by the sensitive and quizzing consideration given to questions of value and their relationship to material form, rarity and personal passion. An imperfect book can be the perfect book.”
The Colin Franklin Prize is awarded every year to an undergraduate or postgraduate student of the University of Oxford for a collection of books or other printed materials. You can find out more about the Prize on the Bodleian website.
In 2022, the joint-winners of the award were: Alexander Laar, DPhil Candidate at New College for his essay, Books with names: collecting previous owners; and Ashley Castelino, DPhil Candidate at Lincoln College for his essay, Translation: Medieval & Modern.
It’s a nesting doll about ageing and decay, and the publisher, the artist, and the writer really worked together … to express all these ideas throughout the materiality of every component of the artists’ book
The release of this episode of BOOKNESS on 9th December 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the publishing of this work. Happy birthday Agrippa!
Useful links for this episode:
Watch William Gibson’s poem Agrippa: A Book of the Dead
running in emulation on a 1992-era Mac computer here
In the third podcast in the series, BOOKNESS talks to poet and artist Stephen Emmerson about his work Translation of Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge, a paperback novel ‘translated’ into mushrooms.
A series of exciting inscriptions, almost invisible to the naked eye, have been discovered in the margins of an important eighth-century manuscript in the Bodleian Library, MS Selden Supra 30. Revealed through state-of-the-art 3D recording technology by the ARCHiOx project, these marginal annotations provide tantalising new insights into this manuscript’s history and its links to women, in particular, to a woman called Eadburg.
Introducing Bodleian Library, MS Selden Supra 30
Bodleian Library, MS. Selden Supra 30 is a copy of the Acts of the Apostles, a book of the New Testament, written in Latin. It is a small volume, measuring only 229 x 176 mm (only slightly bigger than an A5 piece of paper).
Like most surviving manuscripts from this period, MS. Selden Supra 30 does not contain a formal colophon or scribal note recording when, where, and by whom it was made.
However, certain features of this manuscript, including the style of uncial script used to copy the text, demonstrate that it was produced in England, most likely somewhere in the kingdom of Kent, probably in the first half of the eighth century (i.e., between c. 700 and c. 750 AD).
MS. Selden Supra 30 was certainly in Kent by the fourteenth century when a shelf mark was added to p. 1 showing that it was then in the library of the monastery of St Augustine’s in Canterbury.
Prayers added to p. 70, which was originally left blank, suggest, however, that very early in its history MS. Selden Supra 30 was owned and used by a woman.
These prayers were copied in the same type of script as the rest of the manuscript but by a different scribe to the two responsible for copying its main text.
The first prayer is a petition to God made by an anonymous woman, described as God’s “unworthy servant” (indignam famulam).
This strongly suggests that, at the time the prayer was added, MS. Selden Supra 30 was being used by a woman, or a group of women. The prayer may have been copied into the manuscript by a female scribe.
The formula of this prayer is unique and does not survive in any other manuscript. It could have been composed by the petitioner herself.
In 1935, in the first edition of Vol. 2 of Codices Latini Antiquiores, Elias Avery Lowe, then a Reader in Palaeography at the University of Oxford, suggested that another addition made to MS. Selden Supra 30 could provide further evidence of its links to women.
Lowe recorded, for the first time in print, that the letters EADB and +E+ had been incised into the lower margin of p. 47. He noticed that the letters had been cut into the parchment with force, apparently using a knife, slicing through the upper surface of the membrane.
Lowe suggested that these letters were abbreviated forms of the female name Eadburh/Eadburg.
Studying MS. Selden Supra 30 in the Weston Library’s Rare Books and Manuscripts Reading Room in 2022, Jessica Hodgkinson, a PhD student at the University of Leicester, funded by the AHRC Midlands4Cities consortium, spotted another inscription in the lower margin of p. 18. This inscription had never been noticed before. It was very small and almost invisible to the naked eye but appeared to contain Eadburg’s name written in full.
State-of-the-art technology has now not only confirmed this new inscription, but revealed several other instances of Eadburg’s name, alongside many more early marginal additions, incised into the parchment of MS Selden Supra 30. These discoveries provide new and exciting insights into the use of this book by a woman called Eadburg in eighth-century England.
Recording the inscriptions by John Barrett
Scratched markings on the surface of a page are usually photographed using a single light positioned at a low angle. This simple principle is termed raking light. However, through recordings made for ARCHiOx, it has been demonstrated that scratched markings may be far more effectively recorded using a technique called photometric stereo.
The photometric stereo workflow adopted for ARCHiOx uses 2D images to record and store 3D information. These images map the direction and height of the original’s surface, and are processed into renders showing only the relief of the original with the tone and colour removed.
Renders produced using a photometric stereo workflow are superior to raked light images in three ways:
A 3D render lacks the excessive contrast of a raked light image making markings easier to discern. Through the use of software, it is possible to re-light renders virtually, giving complete control over the intensity of the shadow and highlight over the recorded relief of the original.
The ability to filter for different textural frequencies makes it possible to separate the scratched markings from the texture of material on which the markings have been made.
Renders can be re-lit virtually from any direction or height making it possible to reveal markings made along any angle.
In addition, the depth of a marking can be measured by examining a cross-section through it. The profile may also provide clues regarding the mark-making tool, in this case a drypoint stylus.
A photometric stereo recording of the near-invisible inscription on p. 18 was captured in May 2022.
The Selene, a prototype imaging system designed and built by the Factum Foundation, project partner for ARCHiOx, was used for the recording.
Multiple images were captured from the inscription before being processed, filtered, and enhanced. The resulting high-resolution shaded render shows only the three-dimensional surface of the page. Through this new image, the drypoint inscription has been recorded successfully for the first time.
Subsequent analysis and processing, overseen by Jorge Cano, designer of the Selene, led to a new set of renders which enhance the markings further. These new images were created by compiling renders, re-lit virtually from multiple directions, and using a process called principal component analysis, or PCA.
The lines which form this inscription are incredibly shallow. Even the most prominent are only 15-20 microns in depth, perhaps equivalent to less than a fifth of the width of a human hair. It is, therefore, unsurprising that the inscription is simply absent from a conventionally-lit colour image of this page.
Processing the data using computational methods has revealed an astonishing amount but analogue (i.e., human) intervention has still been required to digitally annotate the image to clarify the reading. Despite attempts to filter specifically for the inscription, shading from the texture of the parchment and its many tiny creases have proved almost impossible to remove. This makes it difficult in some areas, to rule-in or rule-out the presence of lines. An objective and cautious approach has been taken with the digital annotation. This has involved multiple imaging colleagues working independently to contribute to a set of annotations which could then be compared. Finally, the renders and digitally annotated images were shared with the researchers, allowing them to make their own observations and annotations with the benefit of context.
Subsequent recordings made for ARCHiOx have revealed that Eadburg’s name is spelled out in full five times on five different pages of MS. Selden Supra 30 (pp. 1, 2, 3, 12, and 18). On some of these pages, and elsewhere in the book, other abbreviated forms of this name, including E, EAD, or EADB, are also present.
Reading the inscriptions
The discovery of Eadburg’s full name etched several times into the manuscript’s margins definitively confirms Lowe’s theory that the letters previously identified on p. 47 are, indeed, abbreviations of the same name.
Eadburg’s name was copied out using letterforms common to all the newly identified inscriptions. The form of the A (an oblique line with an oval bow on the left) and the angular U and G are distinctive. This suggests that the same scribe may have made all of these additions. If so, it is at least possible that the scribe was Eadburg herself.
Readers and owners of early medieval manuscripts, both men and women, sometimes added their names to books, usually in ink, but occasionally, as here, in drypoint. Another early eighth-century example is the ink inscription that records, in Old English, that Abbess Cuthswitha owned a copy of Jerome’s commentary on the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes (now Würzburg, Universitätsbibliothek, M. p. th. q. 2, fol. 1r).
Eadburg’s name could also be a mark of ownership or evidence of reading. Although small in scale, and faint, someone, perhaps Eadburg herself, was evidently keen to preserve her name in the pages of this book to be seen by subsequent readers. What is unusual about Eadburg’s name, however, is that it appears here, in full or in abbreviated forms, 15 times.
Eadburg’s name is written on the opening page of the manuscript (p. 1). It overlaps part of the top of the enlarged decorated initial P which begins the text. Here, her name is preceded by a cross (+).
A series of ARCHiOx recordings of p. 1 of MS. Selden Supra 30:
The decision to etch the name over the top of the first letter of the text must have been deliberate. It establishes Eadburg’s presence in the book from the outset and connects her name intimately with the biblical text it contains.
On p. 2, her name is framed by a cartouche.
On p. 18, Eadburg’s name forms part of a multi-word inscription added to the lower margin. Here also, her name is preceded by a cross. Some of the following letters are easy to see, whilst others, especially those towards the end of the inscription, are difficult to make out, even with the benefit of the new visualisation techniques.
The most recent and clearest recording taken of the inscription, enhanced through virtual relighting, image stacking, and principal component analysis, appears to show, however, that, among the visible letters, there is a wynn (Ƿ), the Old English letter for W. This letter can be distinguished from the Rs in the inscription, including in the name Eadburg, by the form of the bow which is pointed and extends further down the vertical line of the letter than on R. The presence of a wynn shows that the inscription was written, not in Latin, but in the Old English vernacular language.
This inscription probably comprises three words. The name Eadburg is the subject of the statement, so we might reasonably expect the other letters to include a verb followed by the object.
A preliminary reading of the inscription is:
+ EaDBURG BIREð CǷ….N
+ Eadburg bears [cw….n]
Most of the letters in what appears to be the third and final word are unclear, with only CW– at the beginning and -N at the end remaining legible.
One Old English noun that could fill this position is cwærtern, meaning ‘prison’. Interestingly, the inscription is positioned beneath the beginning of the text of Acts 5:18 which describes the imprisonment of the Apostles by the high priest of the Temple and his followers because they had continued to preach the Gospel (…et injecerunt manus in Apostolos et posuerunt eos in custodia publica). If cwærtern is the third word in the inscription on p. 18, perhaps Eadburg sought to mirror the text, associating herself with the Apostles in their imprisonment.
Deciphering the drawings
Alongside Eadburg’s name, several intriguing drypoint drawings have also been discovered. Some are clearly human figures, though further investigation is needed to establish exactly who or what they depict. All the figures are very small. Several seem to have been made by incising a line around a thumb or finger to form the outline of the figure.
The scene added to the lower margin of p. 11, which features at least three figures, may also include two E‘s. There appears to be an E, preceded by a cross, to the left of the first figure, and a second E, followed by a wynn (Ƿ) between the second and third figures. Could Eadburg have drawn this scene in drypoint and signed her work with her initial, as found elsewhere in the manuscript?
Eadburg’s name or initials are etched into several pages, sometimes next to contemporaneous dry-point drawings. But who was she? More work on the newly discovered additions may bring us closer to answering this question.
We know of nine women called Eadburg living in England at some point between the seventh and tenth centuries (for details see the online Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England). Other sources provide some tantalising clues that might help identify the Eadburg of MS. Selden Supra 30.
Charter evidence suggests that a woman called Eadburg was abbess of a female religious community at Minster-in-Thanet, in Kent from at least 733 until her death sometime between 748 and 761. As Lowe suggested in 1935, her dates and location correspond with the palaeographic assessment of the script of MS Selden Supra 30.
Abbess Eadburg of Minster-in-Thanet may also be the woman of the same name who corresponded with Boniface, the West Saxon missionary bishop and Church reformer. He became archbishop of Mainz in 732 and was martyred by pagans in Frisia in 754. Surviving letters show that Boniface held Eadburg in high esteem and that she sent books to him in Francia. He commissioned from her a deluxe copy of St Peter’s Epistles to be written in gold.
Boniface’s friend clearly had access to manuscripts and the means to make them. As such she is an especially strong candidate for the woman whose name was etched into the margins of MS. Selden Supra 30.
John Barrett is Bodleian Library’s Senior Photographer and ARCHiOx Technical Lead for the Bodleian.
Jessica Hodgkinson is a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester funded by the Midlands4Cities doctoral training partnership. Her research explores the participation of women in early medieval book culture in Western Europe through the analysis of surviving manuscripts commissioned, copied, owned and/or used by them.
With special thanks to Jorge Cano, designer and engineer for Factum Arte and the Factum Foundation, for his work on enhancing the recording of p. 18, to Dr Philip A. Shaw, Teaching Fellow in the Department of English Studies at Durham University, for helping to decipher the Old English of this inscription, and to Professor Jo Story and Dr Erin T Dailey at the University of Leicester for their guidance and suggestions.
It’s a book as much as it is an art object … as a book, read it, interact with it, touch its pages, infuse its pages with your warmth … from the art experience, I guess it’s more about the audiences way of how they want to interact with it …
I’ve always been interested in interactive books since I was little, I am neurodiverse myself so it’s easier for me … to engage with books that … use different senses because they would capture my entire focus.
It is an artwork that is supposed to be touched and it’s supposed to wear and tear … as you start to expose and touch … as you’re reading the content, it becomes more familiar with you …
This is already basically a book … these things look like pages, they’re kind of packed together, there’s an order, all I really did was bind those together and give them the cover. I thought it was interesting how it just becomes a book through that process
This image of the Bodleian’s “pristine” copy of 20 Slices was taken by the Conservation team in May 2021 as part of the documentation of the object to record its condition.
I think of it as a book. But I also have a very broad definition of a book
BOOKNESS is a podcast series that wanders into the Bodleian Library’s collection of artists’ books, pokes around a bit and asks ‘what’s all this then?’
In the series we will be talking to artists, makers, researchers and curators and pondering matters such as what makes a book a book, anyway? What happens if a book is made of something that decays? Are there any limits to what a library can collect? And, of course, what does this book smell like?
BOOKNESS is hosted by conservator Alice Evans and librarian Jo Maddocks, and the release of this series coincides with the final month of the Bodleian Library’s Sensational Books exhibition, which is showing at the Weston Library until the 4th December 2022. It’s brought to you by the Bodleian Library’s Centre for the Study of the Book and has been supported by a generous donation to the Bodleian Bibliographical Press.
In this introductory episode, BOOKNESS is joined by Chris Fletcher, Keeper of Special Collections, and Professors Emma Smith and Adam Smyth, to set the scene of the Bodleian’s artists’ books collection and some of the ways these objects can be used and thought about.
… artists’ books reflect on ‘bookness’ … they are metabooks, they are books about books … they are about the book form …
The following artists’ books from the Bodleian collection are mentioned in this episode…
Useful links and glossary checks in this episode:
You can read the full definition of ‘artists’ books’ from the Library of Congress here (.pdf)
The Bodleian oath is taken by all new staff and readers. The current version, in use since 1970, reads: “I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, nor to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library, or kindle therein, any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.” If you want that on a Tea Towel we can make it happen.
The next edition of Inscription on ‘Folds’ is out later this month.