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Looking at the paper and typographical variants in Baskerville’s Virgil (1757)

  • Cadbury Resarch Library University of Birmingham (map)

This is a FREE event, but place are limited so booking is essential. Reserve a place HERE.

In this talk Cathleen focuses on her ongoing research into the wove paper and typographical variants in John Baskerville’s Virgil (Birmingham, 1757). With the publication of this book, there appeared the first wove paper made in the West: paper probably manufactured by James Whatman, Senior. In 2015, Cathleen examined this paper in a copy of Baskerville’s Virgil held in the University of Michigan’s Special Collection Library. At that time she was convinced that she was not looking at paper formed on a woven-wire screen, as has long been assumed, but rather made on a textile. Having made paper before, Cathleen attempted to replicate the Virgil wove paper by placing cloth on top of a single-face laid hand-mould. Her experiments, carried out at the University of Iowa’s Center for the Book, were successful. Since then, she has seen more than eighty copies of the Virgil. This year she plans to see additional volumes in the UK. During her examinations of the paper, Cathleen also noted the typographical variants that appear on the cancels (cancellantia and cancellanda). And as she examined more copies, she found hitherto unidentified ‘typos.’ By examining numerous copies she has been able to hypothetize how Baskerville produced his Virgil, thus giving insight into the working methods of Baskerville’s compositors and Whatman’s papermakers.

The talk will be followed by a handling session of Baskerville’s Virgil and other volumes by the Birmingham printer.

This work has been supported by a Baskerville Society Small Grant.

Cathleen Baker is Conservation Librarian Emerita, University of Michigan. She serves on the Advisory Committee for a UCLA/Getty Book and Archives Conservation Specialization within the Department of Information Studies, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Cathleen runs the Legacy Press, Michigan, USA.