G-40. Physical Bibliography for Book Conservators - Advance Reading List

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  • Preliminary Advices

    Students will get far more out of the course if the advance reading is done carefully and completely. It is especially important that students review the assigned portions of Bowers prior to class.

  • Required Reading

    The following two books are the foundational texts for this course. Please buy or borrow copies of both Gaskell and Bowers and bring them with you to class.

    Gaskell, Philip. A New Introduction to Bibliography. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972, corrected 2nd printing, 1974; paperback edition, New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 1995.Use any printing except the 1st, uncorrected printing (1972). Please read pp. 1–335, but don’t get bogged down in the more technical sections.

    Bowers, Fredson. Principles of Bibliographical Description. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1949; several reprint editions; paperback edition, with introduction by G. Thomas Tanselle, New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 1994. Anyone with a serious interest in bibliography and the history of books and printing should tackle this magisterial, but challenging work at some point. Begin by reading the foreword, chapter 1, and Tanselle’s introduction (if you have the Oak Knoll edition). Then move on to chapters 5, 7 (pp. 269–289), and 12 (pp. 429–438) and Appendix I. (Gaskell offers a concise explanation of format and collation on pp. 321–335, though he deviates from Bowers at several points.) Read as much of the rest of the book as you can, especially pp. 113–123, and pp. 255–268. Then re-read Bowers after taking this course, by which time his discussion should make considerably more sense.

  • Required Viewing

    The Anatomy of a Book: I. Format in the Hand-Press Period. Written by Terry Belanger and directed by Peter Herdrich. 1991. 30 minutes. Available on YouTube.

    The Making of a Renaissance Book. 1969. 22 minutes. Available on YouTube.

    Both films are also available on a single DVD. You can purchase a copy of the DVD along with a workbook and facsimile practice materials from RBS for $45 (or purchase just the facsimile sheets and workbook for $35). Please note: students located outside of the United States must contact RBS for international shipping rates before sending payment.

    Please watch both films before coming to class. For the first, be sure to review the workbook and practice with the facsimile sheets, bringing any questions you have to class. The Making of a Renaissance Book is an excellent visualization of the punchcutting, typefounding, and printing processes described in Gaskell.

  • Recommended Reading

    Carter, John. ABC for Book Collectors. London: Hart-Davis, 1952. 9th edition, revised by Nicolas Barker and Simran Thadani. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2016. The 8th edition (2004) is available free of charge as a PDF. An elegant and witty guide to essential terminology. Use any later edition. Some of the terms are rarely used nowadays, but it is useful nonetheless to know these.

    Pearson, David. Provenance Research in Book History: A Handbook. London: The British Library; New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 1998. Despite its heavily Anglocentric focus, this is a very useful introduction to marks of provenance and their identification, though the many illustrations tend to be a bit small and murky. Please read pp. 1–26, 38–70, 82–139, and 274–296; skim the rest to the extent of your interest. Presently out of print and difficult to find.