The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Tagged: printing

Proof prints, part one

Last time I posted on The Collation (Two disciplines separated by a common language, 30 April 2013), I went off on a bit of a rant about vocabulary barriers between printed pictures and printed words. Guess what? There’s more! That post mentioned¬†edition, copy, state, impression, and plate, but deliberately omitted the word “proof.” Those other terms all fit the tidy pattern of meaning one thing in one discipline, and something else in the other.… Continue Reading

Secret histories of books

This month’s crocodile mystery was a bit more challenging than recent ones (perhaps not helped by my cryptic “suitable for April” introduction), but Aaron Pratt guessed the gist of it: the image was a detail of a page printed in black, usually referred to as a mourning page. Here is the full context, with the bit we were looking at taken from the middle of the left-hand page:… Continue Reading

Detective Work: The Dutch Fingerprint (Part I)

Previous Collation posts may convince even the most skeptical reader that bibliographic work often requires detective work. In some cases, this may involve bibliographers to take fingerprints. Fingerprints are regularly used by bibliographers to find out whether or not two copies are printed from the same setting of type. Roughly speaking, identical settings in two copies mean that the copies originate in the same print run and may be part of the same edition.… Continue Reading

Printer’s waste or endleaf?

Last week’s crocodile mystery concerned the nature of a fragment of paper used to repair a letter from Thomas Cromwell to Nicholas Wotton written in 1539. This mystery is probably not the first, or the last, time that our answers are not perfectly satisfactory. We offer some identifications, theories, hunches, and further questions, below. If you think we are on the wrong track, be sure to let us know!¬†… Continue Reading

Deciphering signature marks

So, as those of you who have spent any time working with early modern printed books probably recognized, this month’s crocodile mystery focuses on signature marks. Below is the photo I posted last week, now with the signature mark circled in red: Signature marks are those letters, numbers, and sometimes symbols at the bottom of the first portion of gatherings to help binders assemble the sheets of a book into the right order.… Continue Reading

A book’s fingerprints

Last week’s crocodile mystery may have been a bit too mysterious, but I hope that today’s post will inspire you to look for similar mysteries on your own. Here’s a close-up detail of what I was asking about: As with nearly all photographs shared on this blog, if you click the image, a larger version will open in a new window.… Continue Reading

modern adventures in printing

In keeping with the spirit of my last couple of posts, this one is also about printing, but this time as an activity that my students and I did in our Books and Early Modern Culture seminar. The Folger is lucky to have a small-scale replica hand press, thanks to the resourcefulness of Steve Galbraith, our former Curator of Books, who tracked down the work of a group of engineering students from Bucknell who had designed and built the press for a senior project, and who then built a second one for us.… Continue Reading

correcting mistakes

In my last post, I wrote about my joy in finding printer’s errors and what we might learn from them about early modern printing. In this one, I want to look at some examples of what printers do to correct their errors. Mistakes happen, as I tell my kids; it’s what you do about your mistakes that matters. So, what do you do when you make a mistake?… Continue Reading

learning from mistakes

One of my favorite categories of early modern books are those that show errors, small mistakes made in the process of printing them. I don’t love them because I like to laugh at them. I love finding them because they remind me that books are made by people and they carry with them traces of their making. Books don’t just magically appear.… Continue Reading