New Research into John Baskerville’s Virgil (1757): Its Wove Paper and Typographical Variants – The 2018 Sol. M. and Mary Ann O’Brian Malkin Lecture

Date: 30 July 2018
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: UVA Special Collections
Lecturer: Cathleen A. Baker - Conservation Librarian Emerita, University of Michigan

This talk focuses on my ongoing research into the wove paper and typographical variants in John Baskerville’s Virgil (Birmingham, 1757). With the publication of this book, the first wove paper made in the West appeared, paper probably manufactured by James Whatman, Senior. In 2015, I was finally able to examine this paper firsthand in the copy in the University of Michigan’s Special Collection Library. At that time, I was convinced that I was not looking at paper formed on a woven-wire screen, as has long been assumed, but rather made on a textile. Having made paper before, I thought I could replicate the Virgil wove by placing cloth on top of a single-face laid handmould. My experiments, carried out at the University of Iowa’s Center for the Book, were successful. Since then, I have seen more than 80 copies of this book with plans this year to see another 80 copies. During my examinations, I also noted the typographical variants that appear on the numerous cancels (cancellantia and cancellanda). And as I examined more copies, I found hitherto unknown “typos.” By examining many, many copies I will be able to draw conclusions about how this book was produced, thus giving insight into the working methods of Whatman’s papermakers and Baskerville’s compositors.