Correcting with cancel slips

Thanks to my last post, when Mitch Fraas and I were looking at how different copies of the same book handled having a printer error (Judas instead of Jesus, in that case), I’ve spent the last week with cancel slips on my mind—those pieces of papers that are pasted in to correct printing mistakes. Once you start looking, you can find cancel slips in a huge range of uses and states. (And as long-time readers know, I’m always interested in printer’s mistakes and how they can be corrected.) What do you do if you’ve misprinted one of three propositions central to the 1599 Westminster conference? You print the corrected third proposition and paste it over the error—cheaper than reprinting the whole sheet (the whole book is only two sheets long) and easier than pasting in a canceled leaf. Of course, for shorter errors, printers often included a list of errata—known mistakes…

Keeping your Jesus and Judas straight

Co-written by Sarah Werner and Mitch Fraas One might think that when printing the New Testament, one would want to avoid at all costs mixing up Jesus and Judas. However, this month’s crocodile shows that such mistakes did happen: As two commentators simultaneously identified the mystery, the image shows a well-known misprint from the 1610 Geneva Bible (STC 2212) in John 6:67, in which instead of Jesus speaking to the apostles, Judas is identified as the speaker. Bible errors can be amusing in and of themselves, but what brought this one to our attention is a recent class that Mitch Fraas was teaching with Zachary Lesser at the University of Pennsylvania. For that class, they pulled out Penn’s copy of this bible, and discovered that the error had been hand corrected: 

It’s the details thnt matter

There were two odd things happening in last week’s crocodile mystery, which featured an opening from the first English edition of Nicolàs Monardes’s Joyfull newes out of the newe founde worlde (STC 18005). The first was the easier to spot, assuming you paid attention to the information at the top of the page that we don’t usually pay attention to. In the headline (that bit of text that runs across the top of a page usually identifying the book or section of the book being read), there was a “thnt” instead of “that” on the left-hand side of the opening. What should the text read? Not “thnt” but “that,” as this correct headline reads:

modern adventures in printing

In keeping with the spirit of my last couple of posts, this one is also about printing, but this time as an activity that my students and I did in our Books and Early Modern Culture seminar. The Folger is lucky to have a small-scale replica hand press, thanks to the resourcefulness of Steve Galbraith, our former Curator of Books, who tracked down the work of a group of engineering students from Bucknell who had designed and built the press for a senior project, and who then built a second one for us. The Library’s used the press as part of exhibits, in demonstrations for Shakespeare’s Birthday celebration, and with students. Usually there’s only time for students to set their names in type and to print off a single broadside. But this time, I decided that there was room in the syllabus to try a bigger experiment: choosing a text,…

link catchup

Hi all—I’ve been so busy writing elsewhere that I haven’t kept up here. *sorry* But some links to some of that book history goodness in case you missed out: At The Collation I wrote a whole lot of posts, but there are two recent ones that are exactly the sort of thing I would have written about here if I wasn’t trying to shore up content over there. The first is “Learning from mistakes,” about how much I love finding printer’s errors in early books and what we can learn from their mistakes. Check out the comments, please, to help me understand what’s going on in the 1641 pamphlet that I end the post with and why Wing drives me nuts! The second post, just up a few hours ago, is “Correcting mistakes,” and it picks up from the previous post to consider how early modern printers tried to fix…