This Past Month in Book History/Rare Book Open House
I apologize for not posting earlier, this past month has been very hectic for me. There was also a lot going on in terms book history and bibliography in the Worcester and Boston area in November. Also you all should check out the upcoming Rare Book Open House in the Rare Book Room in Clark’s Archives and Special Collections, hosted by Professor Neuman, Fordyce, and all of the students in ENG 227 Intro to Archival Research this Monday from 3-6 pm.
Early in November my Dad and I ended up going to a lecture at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, on Nicholas Basbanes’ new book On Paper. I found the lecture to be extremely fascinating, Basbanes talked about how he traveled to China and Japan with other scholars to learn about the ancient craft of paper-making. In Japan there still exist national master paper-craftsmen who received the title from previous generations. Basbanes also talked about the different functions of paper, ranging from book printing to toilet paper, and how he believes that paper will continue to survive for a great deal of time in the digital age, because of the so many uses of paper embedded in global culture, and its practicality.
On Saturday, November 16th, Professor Neuman, Fordyce, Rose, Olivia, Andy, and I all went to the annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair, which was so cool. The Fair consisted of all of the major international book-dealers, and international and local associations that deal with book collecting, conservation, and bibliography courses, such as the Rare Book School. I found this experience to be a great networking event for me, considering the fact that I am interested in pursuing archival research and conservation work. I was able to meet Harvard’s book conservator, along with several other good contacts. One of the book-dealers, Garrett Scott showed us a book which had a marbled paper cover, which had been made using pages from Fanny Hill. Garrett explained to us how the book had been banned because of its erotic content, and was then recycled and used for marbled covers, however the book he showed us was poorly marbled and you can see the pages’ content through the marbling. I just found this to be very fascinating, considering the fact that when the marbling was done poorly it completely defeats the purpose of trying to ban the book’s content, and reflects how book production included an element of the reusing and re-purposing of materials. As someone who is truly passionate about archives, book collecting, and has started selling used books on the side, I truly enjoyed going to the Boston Antiquarian Book Fair.
The following Monday for class we took a trip to the American Antiquarian Society, and looked at Isaiah Thomas’ printing press, which was really cool. Then we went to the Goddard house next door to listen to Professor Sean Moore present a paper on the Redwood Library in Newport, Rhode Island. The Redwood Library was essentially funded by the Atlantic slave-trade, and it was an exclusive lending library, in which one had to pay to become a member and to take out books. Professor Moore in his research is looking at the library’s surviving receipt books, which have the name of the books that were checked out, how much was paid, and the name of the borrower listed; and seeing if he can gain any insight into the library’s patrons by looking at what they took out of the library. I found this lecture to be extremely fascinating and enjoyable.
These past few weeks of class, we have just been preparing for the Rare Book Open House, and discussing our final projects. You all should come check out the Open House tomorrow and check out the many student-run stations, such as Jeremy Levine and I’s station about Authority and the Bible.