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September 17th, 2013 by Nicholas Cotoulas

1611 King James Bible

In this week’s class for ENG 227 Intro to Archival Research, we mostly discussed the importance of determining the format of a book and last week’s lab. The format of book refers to the number of times the original sheet of paper is folder it has been printed, and determines the numbers of pages per gathering. Professor Neuman said that determining the format of a book is important, because it allows us to think of a book as material object printed during a specific time. Also, Professor Neuman said that format matters because; it “is an element of a book that is part of a disambiguated identifier of book.” So basically format is important because it allows archivists and descriptive bibliographers to describe and identify physical elements and information about a particular book. We went on to discuss that it is important to identify books in this manner, because it provides book collectors and dealers with the knowledge they need to know in order to place an accurate and fair monetary value upon the book.

Also, this disambiguated description of books allows English students and scholars, such as myself with a framework upon which they can use to make inferences when examining multiple drafts of an author’s work to gain insight into their though process. This particular point raised by one of my fellow classmates, reminded me of research I had done last year for ENG 109 Heart of Poet, Heat of a Poem, in which I examined drafts of Stanley Kunitz’ poem, “My Mother’s Pears”, to gain insight into his creative process and thinking.

After discussing last week’s lab, Professor Neuman brought out a First Edition King James Bible printed in 1611 in black and red ink. We examined in detail ornamental lettering, a wood-cut illustration of the Biblical genealogy of David,  and a Biblical calendar of “Red Letter Days” printed in black and red ink within the Bible. I found this portion of class to be the most fascinating, since it was easily the oldest and most beautifully printed Bible I have ever seen in such great condition. Also, by looking at the black and red ink we were able to learn about the origin of the word of “Red-Letter Day” which goes back to saint-days being printed in red-ink. The wood-cut illustration we examined was extremely intricate and printed using both wood and movable type, which must have been a very tedious process. Black and red ink printing was also a very laborious process, considering the fact that they had to print twice, and put in spacers to block the areas that are to be printed in the opposite color. Overall this week’s class was very interesting, and I really enjoyed having the opportunity to look closely at a King’s James Bible from 1611.

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