G-80. Identifying and Understanding Twentieth-Century Duplicating Technologies - Advance Reading List
1. Gascoigne, Bamber. How to Identify Prints. 2nd ed. London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 2004. And…
2. Gaskell, Philip. A New Introduction to Bibliography. Winchester & New Castle, DE: St. Paul’s Bibliographies & Oak Knoll Press, 1995.
Though this class has no prerequisites, an at-least-passable familiarity with Gascoigne and Gaskell will be assumed. Because in many cases we will be distinguishing and differentiating copying/duplicating processes within the broader context of traditional printing methods, you should acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with both. Further, Gascoigne provides a model for the systematic approach to identification we will utilize in this class.
3. Batterham, Ian. The Office Copying Revolution: History, Identification and Preservation. Canberra: National Archives of Australia, 2008.
Batterham’s colorful and heavily illustrated book remains the best introductory overview of copying and duplicating processes. Pay particular attention to his descriptions and histories of each of these technologies (they are excellent introductions), less to his guides to and suggestions for identification, which are generally insufficient.
Unfortunately, it is now out-of-print and copies only infrequently appear on the secondary market (for example, there were none available at the time of this writing). However, if you can locate a used copy, I urge you to buy one. Otherwise, Mr. Batterham has generously allowed us to use a PDF of his book and one will be provided for class use only to all admitted students.
4. Dane, Rich. Cheap Copies! The OBSOLETE! Press Guide to DIY Hectography, Mimeography & Spirit Duplication. Coralville, IA: OBSOLETE! Press, 2022.
Originally published through a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2021, Dana recently released a revised and expanded “Bench Manual” edition of this practical, enthusiastic, and affectionate guide. Available from the publisher (obsolete-press.com), who describes the book thusly:
“This book is the culmination of over a decade of experiments, research, and tinkering with pre-digital duplication technology. It’s a DIY guide that explains the history and how-to of the mimeograph, hectograph, and spirit duplicators […] In addition to the how-to manual, the book is also a meditation on technology, highbrow vs lowbrow art, and rediscovering freedom in the non-digital world. This book is packed with info, instructions, illustrations, and reference material that will help you get started printing zines, posters, flyers, stickers, and more, without fancy equipment or expensive supplies.”
5. Melville, Herman. “Bartleby the Scrivener.”
This can be found easily online such as at Project Gutenberg. Note especially the descriptions of how the office operated.
6. Proudfoot, W.B. The Original of Stencil Duplicating. London: Hutchinson, 1972.
If this book weren’t out-of-print (and hence its ongoing availability a question), I would include it on the list of required books. Popular enough at the time of its publication to have gone through a second printing, at the time of this writing it remains generally findable at affordable prices (usually for ex-library copies)—though it seems to be increasingly scarce and I would urge you to get a copy.
7. Rhodes, Barbara and William Wells Streeter. Before Photocopying: The Art & History of Mechanical Copying 1780-1938. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll, 1999.
Too expensive (it is difficult to find copies for less than $200) to be required reading, Rhodes and Streeter’s encyclopedic guide is an important reference in early copying and duplicating. Though primarily concerned with the development and use of the copy press (which is also confusingly sometimes refer to as “letterpress”), as well as various other early 18th and 19th century copy processes (which we will only cover briefly), Rhodes and Streeter are nevertheless excellent for understanding (though again, typically not identifying) the origins of and predecessors to many of the more modern processes we will be focusing on in this class.
8. Kissel, Eléonore and Erin Vigneau. Architectural Photoreproductions: A Manual for Identification and Care. New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press and the New York Botanical Garden, 2009.
As architectural methods of copying were only occasionally used for non-architectural materials, and because this book exists and is an excellent guide to the identification of these processes, we will not be spending much time or touching only briefly on most of the methods in this book. Nevertheless, an important supplement to much of what we will cover.
9. Owen, David. Copies in Seconds: Chester Carlson and the Birth of the Xerox Machine. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004.
A very readable account of the development of the Xerox machine, it also does a good job of placing the Xerox machine in the context of other copying and duplicating processes that preceded it.
10. Steven Clay and Rodney Phillips. From A Secret Location on the Lower East Side: Adventures in Writing, 1960–1980: A Sourcebook of Information. New York: Granary Books, 1998.
History of the “mimeo revolution,” one of the primary artistic legacies of the proliferation of many of the inexpensive 20th-century duplicating processes we’ll be studying.