Curiosity about the holdings of the National Museum of Malta aroused my interest in this seminar. I’ve been to many talks on print techniques over the years, so was expecting to come away as baffled as ever about how the ink ended up on the paper in most cases. It is very difficult taking someone’s spoken or written description and turning it into images of how the processes work in your head. Letterpress I can imagine, but it gets more complicated when the speaker is trying to describe the various different offset techniques.
I was pleasantly surprised to come away feeling much more enlightened. As background introduction, Krystle took us clearly, but rapidly, through the many centuries of printing history, from Chinese woodblocks, through the various hand-presses, to modern photographic printmaking. Each phase was accompanied by close-up images of the finished product, plus supporting material on individual techniques. Both were extremely useful in showing the difference between copperplate and intaglio for example.
In her day job, Krystle is in the process of cataloguing c. 4,500 prints. As she demonstrated, use of a microscope or the zoom feature on a modern phone allows her to investigate the images more closely in order to identify the technique used. This must be invaluable as many of us have struggled in the past to be confident in our assessment of images when the maker has been a master of their technique. I do hope that Krystle will do more talks or seminars on printmaking techniques. Although images of her slides are imprinted on my brain, I’m sure a refresher will be required at a future date. One day, perhaps, a good excuse to visit Malta.
Yesterday, Yvonne Lewis shared the story of ‘The Unwritten Book’ – the evidence William John Bankes left behind him of his travels, and, in particular, a set of lithography stones intended for publication in a book that was never printed in the end.
There are many reasons that these stones are both interesting and mysterious, but the greatest mystery is why they exist in the first place. Lithography was invented in Munich in 1798 by Alois Senefelder, and as Michael Twyman points out in his core text on the topic, “the lithographed book is almost as old as lithography itself” (p. 15). One of its leading proponents in Britain, Charles Hullmandel, set up his press in 1819, and so Bankes’s travels (circa 1815-17) coincided with the very earliest period of English lithography. Hullmandel’s marks appear on the back of the stones, and, as Twyman asserted in a paper he gave in 2016, “Hullmandel can be linked with the stones now at Kingston Lacy in several ways. First and foremost he owned them all, at least initially. Secondly, he made the drawings on some of them himself. And, thirdly, wherever a printer’s imprint appears on a stone it is his.”
This month, we’re delighted to feature our Associate Yvonne Lewis, who is the speaker in our November General Seminar on The Unwritten Book.
Now the longest serving National Trust book curator, Yvonne started out as a graduate trainee at Lambeth Palace Library before completing her MA at UCL. When she started work as a cataloguer, the state of the art was 5″ x 3″ catalogue cards, and in her interview she describes the progress she’s seen, through old-style library management systems and retrospective conversion to the online resources with which we are familiar today.
Want to learn the core techniques of bibliographic research? Getting into book collecting and keen to know exactly which impression of which edition of a book you’ve just purchased? Moving from modern cataloguing to working with early materials and need to get on top of format and collational formulae?
We’ve got a course for you. Beginning Bibliography has just opened for booking. 20-25 hours of learning at your own pace, with presentations, readings and activities including creating quasi-facsimiles (title page transcriptions), collation (working out the format of the book and how its pages were ordered and bound), and some paper-folding excises.
Really happy to start the week by welcoming Yvonne Lewis as a Beginning Cataloguing Associate.
Yvonne is well-known in the special collections community, having held committee posts for CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group, the Historic Libraries Forum, CILIP Library History Group, the Cathedral Libraries and Archives Association and CILIP Preservation, Conservation & Heritage Sub-committee.
As well as having taught hundreds of people to catalogue in the workplace, she has supervised many work placement students in historic collections, and has, therefore, been the person who has introduced lots of people to life in heritage libraries.
Yvonne holds a degree in History from Warwick University and is a recent graduate of the Institute of English Studies (University of London)’s MRes in Book History. She has worked in special collections since graduating with her MA LIS from University College London in 1992. Her research interests and publications are centred on 17th and 18th century private libraries, book ownership, the reading experience, and maps and globes.