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October 19th, 2013 by Nicholas Cotoulas

Intro to the ESTC

In our class last week before October break, we discussed the mid-term lab, the English Short Title Catalog (ESTC), and discussed our ideas for our final research projects.

For most of the first half of class, we looked at the book Contemplations and Meditations, by James Hervey printed in 1764, which was on our mid-term lab. This particular book was actually purchased at the Friends of Goddard Library’s Annual Book Sale by Fordyce, after Bob Bradbury, who helps run the sale, pointed out its age, and his suspicions about it possibly being a counterfeit or pirated edition. We talked about how the book is gathered in sixes, however the I gathering is gathered in eights, and leaf Y2 is signed as X2. Then we looked up the book on the ESTC’s database through the British Library, and found several copies of the book from 1764, however they were all listed as being formatted in octavo. This is very interesting, considering the fact that the copy of the book that we analyzed for the mid-term lab, was gathered in duodecimo, which supports Bob’s theory that this was in fact a pirated copy. Also, there is no listed printer or publisher in the copy we looked at in class, which further supports the possibility of it having been a counterfeit.

The second book we looked up in class on the ESTC is Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy. The collation formula listed in the database was extremely complex, and included at least one or two notations of leafs that had a minus sign before them. Professor Neuman went on to discuss how a minus sign before a particular leaf in collation formula is used to express that the leaf has been canceled or rather removed from the book. If there is a plus and minus sign before the leaf’s signature, then it means that the original leaf was taken out and replaced by singleton (an extra single leaf that has been placed in the book after it having been printed). Professor Neuman then went on to say that the only way you can look for cancels or replaced leafs, is by looking in the gutter of the book and seeing if there are any remnants of the original leaf or signs of the leaf having been removed or replaced. However, Professor also said that, “It is better that we don’t really know if the leaf was cancelled, if looking at the gutter could potentially harm the book.” A cancelan is the leaf that has been cancelled and a cancelandum is the leaf that replaces the cancel.

Professor Neuman briefly talked about democratized digitization, and how it is paradoxical in that it has allowed in greater accessibility to rare sources (antiquarian books), there is also this element of exclusivity because certain databases are very expensive, and therefore limited to those that can afford access to these databases and rare sources.

We briefly talked about my final research project, which is more than likely going to involve me working with our 1611 King James Bible, and several Bibles in Clark’s Archives which are part of the Jonas Clark Collection that have yet to be identified and cataloged.

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