The Lives (and Afterlives) of Stereotype Plates in the 19th-Century United States Booktrade – The 2023 Kenneth Karmiole Endowed Lecture on the History of the Book Trades

Date: 12 July 2023
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: UVA Special Collections
Lecturer: Jeffrey Makala - Associate Director for Special Collections & University Archivist, Furman University Libraries

Stereotyping–the creation of printing plates from set type–was the most significant of several technological innovations to occur in the printing trades and nascent publishing industry in the United States in the early 19th century. Sets of stereotype or electrotype plates to a work became sources of capital for publishers. They were also, for the first time in printing history, true material texts, the physical embodiment of an authorial work and a self-contained, portable source of both monetary value and layers of meaning. Some works cast into plates had long afterlives as they were bought, sold, and printed from many times over the years by multiple publishers. This lecture will look at the lives and afterlives of some of these sets of plates as they were bought and sold in the trades and at publishers’ annual trade sales in the 19th century. It will also look at the experiences of African American authors and their intimate connections to the stereotype plates of their own stories to consider the ways in which embodied forms of authorship in the form of plates could serve as vehicles for liberation, independence, and justice.

You are invited to watch the recording of last year’s Karmiole lecture via our RBS YouTube channel.