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by Bidwell, John

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About This Item

Charlottesville: Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, 2019. Hardcover with dust jacket. 8.5 x 11 inches. Hardcover with dust jacket. xiv, 383 pages. "As would be expected from a volume from this particular publisher the study of paper is not an end in itself, but is closely related to its use in the printed book and its importance as bibliographical evidence... the production standards are of the very highest order. From my sampling the index does not miss a thing."

- Robert Laurie, Journal of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society

"Bidwell discusses the practical craftsmanship of paper and type and their aesthetic place in identifying and explaining the historical significance of particular authors books or editions, bringing the study of bibliography to life... To anyone interested in the history and evolution of paper and type the depth and breadth of this book is bound to enlighten and very likely to raise fresh questions and spark many new ideas... [Bidwell's] book offers a useful model for bibliographical research across the globe."

- Dennis Bryans, Script & Print

The essays collected here are mainly about book production in England and America during the Industrial Revolution. Some touch on topics earlier and later than this pivotal period, but they too tend toward the manufacturing sector and deal with the same tools of the trade: paper and type. The first section on research methods surveys recent scholarship in paper history and contains recommendations for further study. Two essays advocate a greater emphasis on the business side of printing and publishing, a vantage point for viewing their inner workings and their peripheral connections with allied ventures in finance and technology. The interdependence of merchants and manufacturers and their aspirations, incentives, and constraints are recurring themes in this volume.

The essays in the second and third sections describe developments in the paper trade with special reference to the requirements of letterpress printing. In America paper mills first gained a foothold in the marketplace after printers and publishers rose up in their defense against the strictures of the Stamp Act and other British regulations. In England the Fourdrinier papermaking machine has been given credit for the formation of a mass-reading public, although its economic effects are not so easy to explain, and the Fourdriniers contributions to this invention are not as praiseworthy as previously supposed. Mechanization drove most of the vat mills out of business, yet several survived, and some even prospered while supplying handmades to fine printing establishments like the Oxford University Press. Several essays touch on the type designs of John Baskerville, whose neoclassical masterpiece, the Virgil of 1757, is a prime example of stylistic influences of printing on paper.

This volume concludes with two case studies, each tracing the history of a single publication. Both build on arguments made previously about the interdependence of the book trades. Both are based on an examination of multiple copies, one of the principal techniques in the repertoire of analytical bibliography. The empirical evidence of paper, type, bindings, and illustrations should take precedence in any attempt to learn about design decisions, marketing methods, and publication strategies.

John Bidwell is Curatorial Chair and Astor Curator of Printed Books and Bindings at the Morgan Library & Museum.


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Bidwell, John
Hardcover with dust jacket
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Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia
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About the Seller

Oak Knoll Books/Oak Knoll Press

Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Biblio member since 2006
New Castle, Delaware

About Oak Knoll Books/Oak Knoll Press

Oak Knoll Books was founded in 1976 by Bob Fleck, a chemical engineer by training, who let his hobby get the best of him. Somehow making oil refineries more efficient using mathematics and computers paled in comparison to the joy of handling books. Oak Knoll Press, the second part of the business, was established in 1978 as a logical extension of Oak Knoll Books. Oak Knoll Books is a thriving company that maintains an inventory of about 20,000 titles. Our main specialties are books about bibliography, book collecting, book design, book illustration, book selling, bookbinding, bookplates, children's books, Delaware books, fine press books, forgery, graphic arts, libraries, literary criticism, marbling, papermaking, printing history, publishing, typography & type specimens, and writing & calligraphy - plus books about the history of all of these fields.


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