Charlettesville: Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, 2019,
First Edition. octavo, cream cloth in dust jacket. xiv, 383 pp. Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, Item #32662
The first section on research methods surveys recent scholarship in paper history and contains recommendations for further study. Two essays advocate a greater emphasis on the business side of printing and publishing, a vantage point for viewing their inner workings and their peripheral connections with allied ventures in finance and technology. The interdependence of merchants and manufacturers and their aspirations, incentives, and constraints are recurring themes in this volume. The essays in the second and third sections describe developments in the paper trade with special reference to the requirements of letterpress printing. In America paper mills first gained a foothold in the marketplace after printers and publishers rose up in their defense against the strictures of the Stamp Act and other British regulations. In England the Fourdrinier papermaking machine has been given credit for the formation of a mass-reading public, although its economic effects are not so easy to explain, and the Fourdriniers’ contributions to this invention are not as praiseworthy as previously supposed. Mechanization drove most of the vat mills out of business, yet several survived, and some even prospered while supplying handmades to fine printing establishments like the Oxford University Press. Several essays touch on the type designs of John Baskerville, whose neoclassical masterpiece, the Virgil of 1757, is a prime example of stylistic influences of printing on paper. This volume concludes with two case studies, each tracing the history of a single publication. John Bidwell is Curatorial Chair and Astor Curator of Printed Books and Bindings at the Morgan Library & Museum. Illustrated. New.