TIGER TIGER: Notes Toward a Bibliography of Duplication

Date: 1 August 2018
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: UVA Special Collections
Lecturer: Brian Cassidy - Owner, Brian Cassidy Bookseller

To date, the bibliographic study of duplication has much more resembled Fredson Bowers’ infamous “tabby cat of bibliography” (casual, largely unscientific) than his more academically rigorous tiger (“stalking his prey,” according to Nicolas Barker’s obituary of Bowers, “in the jungle of printed texts”). Indeed, despite more than a century of near-ubiquity, duplicated materials remain poorly studied and understood — even among collectors, curators, booksellers, and scholars who frequently handle them. This is almost inevitable, however; the very mundanity of duplicated documents often render them bibliographically invisible. But to misunderstand, for example, what separates a xerox from a mimeograph, or to be unable to distinguish a ditto from a hectograph can have profound implications in our interpretations of these texts. For more than five years, I have been researching the proper identification and description of duplicated materials, and building a collection to support it. This lecture will describe the ongoing project (from spirit duplication and xerography to electrofax and verifax) and explain its inherent challenges. I will also differentiate duplication from printing, discuss the ways in which duplication complicates traditional notions of bibliography, and argue that an accurate cataloguing of these technologies is central to an understanding of many of the twentieth century’s most important cultural movements.