jeidsath wrote:I was told that the book wouldn't be in print if they hadn't done this.
R.W. Chapman (1881-1960), "Old Books and Modern Reprints," The Portrait of a Scholar and other Essays written in Macedonia 1916-1918 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1922), pp. 48-65 (at 50):
It is a melancholy and humiliating truth that the history of printing is a long decadence. Even in the mechanics of printing we cannot to-day surpass the pioneers of the fifteenth century. We cannot achieve a finer paper or a cleaner impression. Our best types are modelled on theirs; and in the use of our tools, in all the rules of the art, we toil painfully in their wake. A great scholar and accomplished collector used to say that his study of early printing had cured him of the vulgar Radicalism of his youth. The early printers had the tradition of the scribes in their souls, and so the new art found its perfection at a spring. It has been in a slow decline for four centuries; and the best that we can do now is to follow the old models, and adapt the old methods, with what intelligence we may command.
jeidsath wrote:R.W. Chapman (1881-1960), "Old Books and Modern Reprints,"
It is a melancholy and humiliating truth that the history of printing is a long decadence. .
Paul Derouda wrote:My advice is to avoid reprints and get the originals when possible. Often they are actually quite readily available.
Victor wrote:If I may be allowed to say so, whilst some valid points about the history of book production have been raised in this thread, some wild generalisations have been made too; given the magnitude of the subject, I suppose that's excusable.
"Many old books are now brown due to the acid in the paper while most of my new books are on acid free paper."
It depends what you mean by old, Daivid. Up until the end of the hand-press era, a point which roughly coincided with the advent of machine-made paper (around the second quarter of the 19th century), the overwhelming majority of books were printed on handmade paper, which, unless it has been stored in a harsh environment or subject to rough usage, will generally have lasted extremely well.
daivid wrote:The one reprint I do have is Smyth's 1956 edition. Overall the quality isn't bad but it is far from perfect. Looking at it closely, the faults seem to me clearly to be from the original rather than shoddy scanning. For example the numbers of section 888 bleed into each other which looks the result of too much ink.
daivid wrote: They do tend be quite badly cut though those rough edges kind of add to their charm.
Victor wrote:Could I ask who the publisher of your reprint is, Daivid, and the year of publication? My Smyth was published by Harvard UP in 1984, and is also a reprint of the 1956 edition. The standard of legibility is not perfect (partly because the Greek print is so small), but there is no problem with the numbers of section 888. It has to be said that there are some scathing reviews on Amazon of certain reprints of Smyth.
Victor wrote:daivid wrote: They do tend be quite badly cut though those rough edges kind of add to their charm.
A fashion for cutting only the top edge (the "head") of books came in in the late 19th century and it prevailed in certain quarters for many decades after that. It reflected a growing bibliographical purism, characterised partly by a desire to preserve as much of a book's margins as possible. This was itself a reaction to the long-standing practice among binders of closely trimming all three edges of a book, sometimes to the extent of cropping away part of the text. The reason for this binding practice was simply that binders could sell any trimmings to paper-makers, and the heavier the bundle of trimmings they could sell the more money they earned.
When you say "rough edges", though, you may be referring to edges that have actually been cut. Sometimes edges of books were cut very roughly, and it's usually because they were cut not in a "plough", as they should have been, but with a knife crudely bolted to the edge of the workbench. It was a much quicker, and sloppier, method..
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