Gatherings: a display

A ‘gathering’ (or ‘quire’) is made of one or more large sheets of paper, folded one or more times to make a single ‘booklet’ of leaves; these are then bound together in a sequence to make a book. Gatherings have been the basic building blocks of manuscript and printed books for centuries. The items in this display date from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. They show that gatherings can reveal much about the print culture of this period, from the ways in which books were constructed by printers and binders to broader, cultural questions about the composition, marketing and censorship of early modern texts.

See a report of The Gathered Text, a symposium on the subject of gatherings in book history.

Rebecca Bullard (University of Reading), Ian Gadd (Bath Spa University), Andrew Honey (Bodleian Library) and Randall McLeod (University of Toronto) selected the items for this display.

Click on any image to enter the gallery.

Library machines: the McLeod collator

The Bodleian Library saw a reunion of inventor and invention on September 2 when Professor Randall McLeod from the University of Toronto conducted a masterclass in the use of the visual collator he invented and built. The device is used to compare copies of printed books. Even copies of the same edition of a book printed in the hand-press period might differ from one another, as corrections were made during a press run.

The Bodleian has owned a McLeod collator since the 1980s. It was kept first in the Modern Papers Reading Room (Room 132 in the New Library) and later in Duke Humfrey’s Library. The library’s copy of the guide to its use, (PDF linked below) has been headed in pencil: “Please do not remove from Room 132”.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The collator itself was returned briefly to Room 132 for a special visit by Professor McLeod, who talked about his invention and demonstrated its use to a class of 25 visitors.

Bibliographers and book historians collate printed texts, comparing copies of the same edition, in order to detect any of the differences that may arise due to stop-press corrections, accidents in the press, or later annotations. A famous example of this process was the work done in the 1950s by Charlton Hinman on the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays, resulting in Hinman’s study, The Printing and Proof-Reading of the First Folio of Shakespeare (1963), that highlighted the many differences in the finished products that might leave an early-modern printer’s shop under the same title. By the same token, as masterclass participant Ian Gadd of Bath Spa University commented, collation can reveal sections of text that match so exactly — including errors — that the publisher’s claim of an updated edition might conceal the fact that only some of the type had actually been re-set.

Collation may be done by hand, but this is a laborious process of checking every character. As with proofreading a word-processed document, the brain may falsely supply what the eye does not see. Scholars have sought ways to make the process of comparison entirely visual, so that the differences on a page leap out to the eye, and they have looked for ways of superimposing images of two supposedly identical pages.

Hinman’s own answer to the question, for the daunting task of collating the massive First Folio, was the Hinman Collator. This machine adopted the principle of the blink comparator, a device used by astronomers, to make tiny differences in the images jump out as first one, then the other, page image flashed in front of the operator’s eyes.

The Bodleian Library bought a Hinman Collator in 1970. At first this was kept in Room 132 of the New Library, which was then the Bibliography Room (housing the library’s handpresses) until that room became the Modern Papers Reading Room. Then the collator’s blinking lights were seen to disturb readers, and it was retired to the library stack. It is now unfortunately not functional.

Professor Randall McLeod used his own invention to collate copies of John Harington’s translation of Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso. This device works on a different principle from the Hinman, as it uses the operator’s two eyes viewing texts simultaneously.The two images are then superimposed by the human brain, trained for binocular vision. In McLeod’s words, the images ‘suddenly fuse [and] [t]he brain … sees only one page’. Where the two settings of type are identical, the image appears solid, but any differences appear to ‘shimmer,’ and gain depth, like the pictures seen through a stereoscope.

During the class Professor McLeod compared copies of the 1621 edition of Samuel Rowley’s play, When you see me you know me, revealing several variants.

Other McLeod collators are owned by Cambridge and the University of London; the National Library of Wales; Università di Udine; New York Public Library, and the Pierpont Morgan Library.

A guide to the use of the McLeod Collator can be found here:
McLeod_Collator_Guide
Also see an article from Lingua Franca, 1997, by Daniel Zalewski.

NOTES FROM A SMALL DEPARTMENT

As a department we boast an extreme form of minimum kit, a solo act in fact. Our title “Special Events and Public Programmes” embraces a multitude of activities in which Blogarati would find something to interest them. In this posting, we will confine our report to one special event and one public programme.

The first of these is Shakespeare’s Globe on Tour who will be presenting
A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Old Schools Quadrangle, Bodleian Library. For the third year in succession the library has collaborated with the Oxford Playhouse and the Globe Theatre to bring top class open air theatre to a contemporary Shakespearean setting. We have built up a loyal audience and this year’s tickets are selling fast. The performances run from Tuesday 27 July to Sunday 8 August – no show on Monday 2 August. The evening performances start at 19.45 with Saturday matinées at 15.30 and Sundays at 14.30. Drinks are served before the show and during the interval in the magnificent 15th century Divinity School where you can admire Oxford’s finest fan vaulted ceiling. Additionally, there will be a small display in the Proscholium of Shakespearean material from the library’s collections. This year it will focus on items of interest to children. As usual, there will be pre-shows talks introducing the play. These take place in Convocation House, Bodleian Library, from 18.45 – 19.15 before most performances.

Tuesday 27 July Dr Bonnie Lander (Wolfson College)
Wednesday 28 July Dr James Methven (Oriel College)
Thursday 29 July Dr Helen Barr (LMH)
Friday 30 July Dr Eleanor Lowe (Oxford Brookes)
Saturday 31 July Professor Tom Betteridge (Oxford Brookes)
Sunday 1 August Dr Sam Thompson (St. Anne’s College)
Tuesday 3 August (Post Show Talk)
Wednesday 4 August (No Pre- or Post-Show Talk)
Thursday 5 August Professor Katherine Duncan Jones (Somerville College)
Friday 6 August Dr Emma Smith (Hertford College)
Saturday 7 August Dr Elisabeth Dutton (Worcester College)
Sunday 8 August Professor Laurie Maguire (Magdalen College)

*BOOK YOUR TICKETS NOW AT THE OXFORD PLAYOHUSE BOX OFFICE*
Tel: 01865 305305 or online at www.oxfordplayhouse.com where a seating plan is available.

Tours of the Bodleian will also be available. Please telephone 01865 277224.

‘WIT WORKS’

Turning to the second item of particular note we are about to embark on something which will be an exciting departure from anything which the library has offered hitherto. This will comprise a series of free gallery talks presented between 13.00-14.00 every Friday during July and August to illustrate the summer exhibition
‘My Wit was always Working: John Aubrey and the Development of Experimental Science’. They will be given by Thomas Roebuck and Jeffrey Mille, both of Magdalen College. The talks will start in Convocation House (entrance via the Divinity School, Old Bodleian Library). The audience will then be escorted to the exhibition room, where select items will be expertly discussed. No booking is required and all members of the public are welcome . We hope to see you there.
Wilma Minty
Special Events & Public Programmes

Bodleian’s Winter Exhibition “Crossing Borders”

The Kennicott Bible. MS. Kenn. 1 fol. 352 v.

On Monday 4th May some 600 visitors grasped the last opportunity to see the exhibition, ‘Crossing Borders’, in the Bodleian Library exhibition room.  During the five months of this exhibition, 30 Hebrew manuscripts together with about 30 Arabic and Latin codices were viewed by 30,412 visitors in total. This precious selection of the Bodleian holdings was ‘a feast for the eyes,’ as Bodley’s Librarian Dr. Sarah Thomas  said when she opened the exhibition on 7th December 2009.

Several bibliographic celebrities were present, among them the Kennicott Bible. Thanks to a digital display, users were also able to ‘turn the pages’ of a facsimile of this 15th-century manuscript.  Maimonides’ autograph draft of his legal code, the Mishneh Torah was another outstanding presence.

Maimonides’ autograph draft of his legal code, Mishneh Torah (from the Cairo Genizah), in cursive Sephardic script (Egypt, c. 1180).

Other books, however, were on public display for the first time in their long lives, such as the 13th century illuminated prayer books for the Jewish festivals, Nicholas of Lyra’s commentary on the book of Exodus with gold leaf  images of the Menorah, the selection of Arabic, Hebrew and Latin fables, the oldest extant  13th century Hebrew Encyclopaedia of science and its Arabic and Latin counterparts, some precious Greek papyri and Hebrew fragments from the Cairo Genizah, must have been thrilled by this extraordinary interest in their existence. As these manuscripts sat in the exhibition cases, they might have found the number of admirers visiting them less surprising than their unusual neighbours. Resting on their accustomed shelves in the bookstacks they had always been surrounded by family members: Hebrew by Hebrew, Latin by Latin codices.

Tripartite Mahzor: Initial word of the opening prayer for the Day of Atonement (Kol nidrei; Ashkenaz, fourteenth century).

But in December 2009 they became the centre of a cross-cultural event. In the exhibition the Hebrew manuscripts became a meeting place of cultures. In a direct comparison with Arabic, Greek and Latin manuscripts they showed in unexpected ways the social and cultural interaction between Jews and non-Jews in both the Muslim and Christian world.

Nicholas of Lyra, Commentary on Exodus, with comparative diagrams of the menorah and the table of showbread (France, late fourteenth century).

The interaction  came to light in decorative patterns, writing styles, script types and text genres. By absorbing elements of the host cultures in which the Jews lived, the Hebrew manuscripts became proof of coexistence and cultural affinity, as well as practical cooperation between Jews and their non-Jewish neighbours in the Middle Ages. Back in the stacks they all will miss their new friends.

– from Piet van Boxel, Curator of Hebrew Collections, Bodleian Library.

An online selection of images from the exhibition is available: http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/bodley/about/exhibitions/online/crossing-borders

William Wake at Christ Church College, Oxford

Know a man by his ancestry, his friends, his enemies… and his books.

William Wake’s ancestry included the quarrelsome and rebellious Hereward the Wake; several members of the clergy; a book thief (who is also to be counted in the previous class of persons in this list); a father who was in prison when he was born; and a mother who by cleverness and hard work managed to restore the family fortunes. Between his friends he could count a wife with Archbishop Chichele’s blood in her veins; several Bishops and Archbishops, and half of the clergy in England; French Huguenots and expatriates; writers and publishers; and the Prince and Princess of Wales (unfortunately, not the King). As for his enemies, the Government and the other half of the clergy are the most conspicuous.

Tracing the character of William Wake (1657-1737, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1716) through the books he collected during his life has been an interesting and rewarding exercise. Wake’s books have stories to tell about the schoolboy, the scholar, and the man of power, but also the father and the husband; they shed light on his habits and reveal him to us as a hoarder; their bindings talk about his travels and his fortunes; and they teach us about his ancestry, friends and enemies.

View of Upper Library, Christ Church College, Oxford

Christ Church Upper Library exhibition WAKE is a celebration of the conclusion of the cataloguing of the over 7000 early printed books in the Wake Collection. Work began in-house in 1995, and after a break between 2003 and 2005, was continued until completion, on Friday 26th February 2010, through participation in the Early Printed Books cataloguing project of the Bodleian Library. The records are accessible via OLIS, the Oxford University integrated online catalogue.

WAKE  – an exhibition open at Christ Church – Upper Library
http://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/library/exhibitions/2010/wake

The exhibition will be open between 28 April-28 May 2010.
Visiting hours
Monday-Friday:
9.00 am – 1.00 pm
2.00 pm – 5.00 pm
Saturday:
12 noon-1 pm

What is a book? Peter Stallybrass lecture at CSB

Vet. A1 e.123
Stab-stitching shown on an early 17th-century pamphlet containing the “39 Articles” of the Anglican doctrine.

As the field of book history expands to include written and printed matter of all kinds, Peter Stallybrass (University of Pennsylvania) asked us to consider our terms of reference. “There is a huge range of material lost when you broaden the category of books, and I want to make it more narrow.” Taking up the thread of a story where many accounts of early books leave off, Prof. Stallybrass’s lecture to the Centre for the Study of the Book on 1 April 2010 moved away from the press, focusing instead on the “job printing” undertaken by printers in order to ensure their business would survive. Stallybrass joked that this category might be called “What is not a book,” but nonetheless showed the extent to which “books form a small portion of printed matter, yet are the chief survivors of what is printed.” The real money in printing, and more importantly the majority of printed texts, was ephemeral: indulgences, state proclamations, and short pamphlets such as tracts, almanacks, and plays. At the root of this disparity between the books that survive and the overwhelming number of other printed texts that printers subsisted on, is whether the sheets were bound or not.

“Printers print sheets,” Stallybrass reminded us; books are made outside the printing houses, when binders or owners collect the sheets into a binding. Their variety of purpose often results in a variety of appearance. For example, the working papers in any household or business needed to be stored for easy reference. The “files” used were filaments: strings to hold these papers together, as can be seen in the portrait of a merchant by Jan Gossaert, c.1530. The portrait also illustrates another stage of storage: papers in loose, unbound quires used for record-keeping that could be easily enlarged. A finished calfskin binding is less permissive to the demands of ever-expanding quantities of records, so limp vellum was the ideal binding choice for such expanding collections.

How, then, did early modern readers end up with books on their shelves? Stallybrass asks us to revise our idea that early-modern booksellers sold unbound sheets, just as they came off the press. Only the very wealthy could afford, or would want, to pay for sheets of a book to be sent for a bespoke binding. Modern conditions distort our perspective because these fine bindings, sheltered within large and well-funded private collections, are now over-represented in libraries.

The average customer would have bought a book in a workaday cheap binding. Preparing pamphlets for sale was even easier. Stab-stitching of pamphlets could be done by a member of the bookseller’s household. Later, the owner of a number of loose pamphlets – miscellaneous plays by Shakespeare, for instance – might take these to a binder to achieve greater tidiness on his bookshelves. Examination of bound volumes of pamphlets reveals the stab-stitching holes, sometimes carefully repaired. Paradoxically, the efforts that owners and libraries have made to preserve the books for us today have covered such traces of their original forms, and the hierarchies of printed matter they reveal — not every “book” was always a “book”.

This subject will be further explored in “The Gathered text” on 2-3 September 2010, at the Bodleian Library. See link for details.

Gillian Bepler: ‘Dynastic women’s libraries in early modern Germany’

On 12 March 2010, the Seminar on History of the Book heard about “Dynastic women and their libraries in early modern Germany,” from Gillian Bepler, of the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel.

A cast of strong women, some of them learned and some politically powerful, populated Dr Bepler’s talk. These included Eleonora Catherine von Hesse-Eschweger (1626-1692) who served as regent of her husband’s German lands after his death in 1655. She built up a library of juridical, historical, and geographical works to support her in these duties.

Documents containing the details of women’s libraries were generated by momentous events in women’s lives. Marriage or death would require an inventory of property, of course. But other events might draw attention to a woman’s personal property, and especially to reading matter. Anna of Orange, Princess of Saxony (1544-1577), had an evidently unhappy marriage with William I of Orange. When she bore a child by Jan Rubens, father of the painter, William sent her away from court. Her books were seized and inspected. Were the French romances, such as Amadis de Gaul, discovered in her library, evidence that novels aroused improper emotions in women?

Anna Sophia of Brandenburg (1598-1659), married to the Duke of Brunswick-Lüneberg, fled from her husband’s home under the pretext of a visit to her family when her liaison with an army officer was about to be exposed. Books being too bulky to carry without arousing suspicion, these had to be left behind. The Duke ordered her apartments sealed and a room inventory was made, which had the benefit for historians of noting where Anna Sophia kept her books, recording such details as the devotional works kept in a writing desk. What a library today would call a shelflist is able to evoke the picture of an early-modern woman keeping her own private spiritual diary.

A key point of law obtaining in some German states was the concept of “Gerade”, property belonging only to the wife, and descending only to female heirs. This special status was for property considered the “woman’s realm”, such as household linen, and applied also to personal items such as jewelery. Books owned by and read by a woman came under the rules of Gerade. The difficulty of tracing some of the collections of books belonging to German dynastic women is due to the movement of these collections, through inheritance, to the homes of their female relatives. These were other dynastic women who, as Dr Bepler’s paper made clear, might be married away to homes far from their native lands.

The Seminar is convened at All Souls College each Hilary Term by Prof. Ian Maclean.
— from Alexandra Franklin

Dr James Willoughby: ‘An English library in Renaissance Rome’

On Friday, 19 February, Dr. James Willoughby (Oxford) spoke to the Seminar on the History of the Book on the library of the English hospice in Rome from 1496 until 1527. St. Thomas’ Hospice, and its library, served the needs of English pilgrims, royal envoys, commercial travellers, suitors and litigants at the curial courts, humanist scholars such as Thomas Linacre and William Lilye and English students studying in Italian universities. A remarkable surviving series of book-lists records the library’s ownership of, chiefly, scholastic, medical, legal and devotional works, in both manuscript and print. Dr. Willoughby argued that the book-lists were evidence not just for the intellectual life of the English community in Rome, but for the diffusion of print and the workings of the English book trade in the period: he demonstrated how the provenance of both manuscript and early printed books might be tracked by means of ‘secundo folio’ citations given in booklists.The library was ransacked in 1527, but exists today as part of the English seminary in Rome, retaining its manuscript records alongside a single, printed book dating from its earlier life.
The Seminar is convened at All Souls College by Prof. Ian Maclean.
— from Giles Bergel

Skeletons and sheets in the cupboard

Leviathan; from All Souls College LibraryAt the Seminar on the History of the Book on Friday February 20th, Dr. Noel Malcolm untangled the bibliographical mysteries of the three ‘1651’ editions of Hobbes’s Leviathan.

In working toward a critical edition of Leviathan, Dr. Malcolm wished to identify which of three versions with a London 1651 imprint are actually Hobbesian editions. The three versions are identified by their title page ornaments: ‘Head’ which is the true 1651 edition; ‘Bear’ which some had suspected to be a Dutch pirate edition of the 1670s; and ‘Ornaments’, long supposed to have been printed in London in the 1670s or 80s. But was Hobbes involved in the production of the second and third issues?

By collating dated ownership inscriptions and sale prices, Dr. Malcolm was able to create a picture of the appearance of each version on the market: the ‘Head’ through the 1650s, the ‘Bear’ in the late 1670s and early 1680s, and the ‘Ornaments’ rather later than expected, through the early years of the 18th century.

A fascinating tale of subterfuge emerged around the ‘Bear’ edition, involving the London printer John Redmayne and the Stationers’ Company. In September 1670 Redmayne’s printing house was raided by the Master of the Company and two sample leaves of the Leviathan seized; three days later the Court of the Stationers’ Company was told that Redmayne’s premises were to be raided again in order to seize the remaining sheets of this new edition. A few days later this pre-announced raid took place and Redmayne duly yielded up another 38 sheets. Had this action supressed Redmayne’s intended edition?

Close examination of the type, ornaments, and skeletons (fixed type such as running headers) used in the ‘Bear’ edition showed that there were two distinct sets of sheets, printed with different type and therefore almost certainly in different printing houses. Distinctive spelling and punctuation on one set of these pages strongly points to their Dutch origin. As reconstructed by Dr. Malcolm, the printing of early sheets of the ‘Bear’ had gone smoothly in the London printing house of John Redmayne until the time the intended raid was announced; then there had been a mad scramble to print more sheets, at the expense of careful proofreading. In spite of his apparent cooperation with the authorities, Redmayne evidently made use of the warning he gained from Stationers Company colleagues to cache some sheets off the premises. Finally the remaining quires were printed, also using the first ‘Head’ edition as a model, in the Netherlands. The ‘Bear’ ornament itself, along with a head-piece used in the first quire, were identified as belonging to Christoffel Cunradus, a printer in Amsterdam. The London sheets were combined with sheets printed in the Netherlands to create a new edition for surreptitious sale.

After painstaking work , Dr. Malcolm has been able to identify the type used in the ‘Ornaments’ edition as that of the London printer John Darby. It is a typeface that was not in use before the late 1690s, thus dating the third edition to the late 1690s, and no later than 1702 – long after the death of Hobbes in 1679!

Detailed examination of textual editing and ‘corrections’ made between the three editions support Dr Malcolm’s thesis that Hobbes was involved in the first ‘Head’ edition; made a few significant textual changes via his original publisher, Andrew Crooke, that appeared in the ‘Bear’ edition; but had no involvement in changes seen in the last edition (still dated ‘1651’), the ‘Ornaments’ edition. — Julie Blyth, All Souls College

Bookbinding competition


The Bodleian’s Seminar Room, Room 132 in the New Library, contained a fresher collection of books than usual this week as judging began for the Designer Bookbinders International Competition, 2009. The judges (Tom Phillips, Faith Shannon, Jeff Clements, Ed Bayntun-Coward, and Richard Ovenden) were selecting from over 250 entries, all of a limited-edition text of poems and images on the subject of water, bound in a variety of materials and styles. Over 100 of the entries will be placed on special exhibition in the Bodleian in June and this exhibition will travel to the Boston Public Library in September, and on to the Grolier Club in New York in 2010. The winning entry will be announced on 11 June 2009.