For over a year now, we’ve been offering a regular series of portraits of members of the book trade. Today’s post is a little different, because now we’re giving you access to hundreds of images of printers, booksellers, bookbinders, etc. through a new online resource: The Updike Collection Book Trade Portraits Database (beta).
This collection of over 500 portraits (of more than 250 members of the book trade) resides in four large binders in our Daniel Berkeley Updike Collection, and now it resides digitally online at http://www.pplspc.org/portraits . You can search and browse in a number of different ways, or just pick a random portrait and see who turns up. And you can get a printed broadside depicting some of the all-stars of the book world to hang on your wall if you so choose.
One important note: This is very much a work in progress, so there’s still a lot of proofreading and tweaking to do. Please send suggestions, or a note about the errors you’re inevitably going to come across to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to Rick Ring, Janaya Kizzie, Robin Camille Davis and Zachary Lewis, who began work on the project a long while back.
There are good-engraving days…
And then there are the bad-engraving days…
The subject of the portraits, John Boydell, was himself a major figure in the history of English engraved prints.
This is a very strange portrait. It depicts two individuals (off-center and not filling the frame): Abel Roper (who published a newspaper called the Post Boy starting in 1695) and his nephew and assistant Edward King. Roper’s publications tended to make people angry (apparently angry enough to pull off his wig and beat him).
The curious emblem at the bottom of the print depicts a pillory and what appears to be another form of punishment device (leave a note in the comments if you know its proper name) with pages nailed to the bars. And the motto (“Nec lex est justior ulla”) is an abbreviated and modified form of a passage by Ovid that translates as “There is no law more just than that the plotters of death should perish by their own designs.” Often connected in biblical commentaries with Haman’s execution on the gallows he had originally built for his enemies, the lines point to the irony of being destroyed by your own schemes. Used here, beneath the portrait of a man well-known for using print as a political weapon, is it an indication that this was a hostile depiction?
Cue the pipe organ.
The brothers Georg and Johann were engravers working in London in the late 18th and early 19 centuries. A little research could probably determine which of the two is depicted here, so if you have any guesses, please leave them in the comments.
Update: In an email, an artist and printer has pointed out that this may be a proof print from a not-yet-completed plate, explaining the appearance of the subject’s face.
When you’re always wearing a bib, you’re always ready for BBQ.
How many puns (written and pictorial) on his name can you find in the poem and engraving?
Due to the ongoing construction here at the library, we’ve decided to postpone the 3pm Friday tours until construction is finished. You’re always welcome to set up an appointment for a tour anytime, though.
Now that the housekeeping details are out of the way, here’s the best logo (and logo explanation) of the day:
It’s taken from the end of an excellent periodical / advertising brochure / paper specimen book:
Hurlbut’s Papermaker Gentleman:
Today’s post is in honor of the booksellers on their way to Boston for the annual Antiquarian Book Fair (at the Hynes Convention Center, starting this Friday). The image features two Scottish booksellers, William Coke of Leith and John Guthrie of Edinburgh. Coke “was known to travel to Edinburgh three or four times in one day for the purpose of supplying the orders of his customers; and he would have performed the journey to obtain a sixpenny pamphlet.” That’s dedication to the trade and his customers.
On the right is John Guthrie, who is praised because “unlike modern open-air merchants, who pace the length of their stalls from morning till night, making idle time doubly tedious, he was constantly engaged in some useful employment–knitting stockings, working onion nets, or in some way or other having his hands busy…”
Hopefully the booksellers will be too busy this weekend to have any time to work on their onion nets.
You can read more about the two booksellers in John Kay’s A series of original portraits and caricature etchings, available online at Archive.org.
Here at PPL we have a fantastic collection of books on the history of printing and typography, and that collection was originally founded as a resource for working printers in the area, providing a library of books they could use to improve their own work. The collection includes thousands items–books, manuscripts, pieces of ephemera– especially type specimen books.
I was curious what the working library of a modern printer might include, and Dan Wood of DWRI Letterpress was kind enough to let me stop by and take a look at the library in his print shop. Here are some photos of what I found:
There’s art all over the place in a print shop. Especially masterpieces by the printer’s kids.
Type specimen books are still in use for a lot of purposes: showing customers options for faces, picking a typeface to match something printed by photopolymer plate, etc., etc.
The biggest surprise: How essential a good etiquette guide is to the modern letterpress printer. Why? Because…
… they include example text for things like wedding invitations that are frequently printed by letterpress.
I also found some titles we were lacking, like the Vandercook 100 (DWRI Letterpress is among the print shops featured). We now have a copy in the collection.
Mr. Woodhouse, the Poetical Cobler, who might consider using his table as a desk, rather than a chair.
What, you haven’t read his biography in Lives of Illustrious Shoemakers?
William Lynch, modelling the Shoplifter’s Coat.
The second in our series of well-stuffed booksellers, William Lynch is at least padded with the material of his trade. Those booksellers always seemed to be covered in books.