Paper from a Hebrew book used in the English binding of a French edition
Bookseller's price code and manuscript annotations in a 17th-century book
Bookseller's inscription guaranteeing the condition of a used book
Vellum from a 15th-century edition used to bind a 16th-century book
Bookplates and binder's stamp on the 20th-century binding of a 17th-century book
Forged Mayflower pilgrim drawings in a 16th-century Bible
Acquisition and accession marks with shelfmark flag in a 17th-century book
The Long Lives of Early Printed Books
Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin
Thursday, July 16 – Saturday, July 18, 2020
This three-day intensive seminar is being offered by the Harry Ransom Center in partnership with The Bibliographical Society of America and The Bibliographical Society (of the UK)
All of the early printed books that survive today carry with them the years between their original creation and their presence in 21st-century institutions and private collections. They are home to bookplates, stamps, labels, shelfmarks, and manuscript inscriptions. They are in housings, and they travel with laid-in materials: descriptions, receipts, newspaper clippings, and pressed plants. They have also occasioned the creation of entirely new documents: auction and bookseller catalogs, accession paperwork, shelf lists, MARC records, conservation files, and emails. And, of course, many books have seen substantial structural changes. They've been bound with other publications into composite volumes, disbound, rebound, rebacked, and overbacked. Their leaves play host to paper mends, ranging from the slapdash and crude to the virtually undetectable, and they have been washed and pressed. Some of their leaves have been lost, and some have been replaced, either with originals that once belonged with other copies or with facsimiles. Europe's medieval and early modern books have been deemed waste and recycled in the structures of other books, too.
The seminar serves to demonstrate that each book's accretions and subtractions have meaning—even for those most interested in books' earliest years—and it will arm participants with the tools needed for identifying and interpreting them. Drawing on the Ransom Center's rich collection of European books printed between the 1450s and around 1700, The Long Lives of Early Printed Books will offer training in bibliographical forensics and provenance research, emphasizing potential payoffs for humanities researchers.
Aaron T. Pratt
Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Curator
of Early Books and Manuscripts