The bibliography room
In 2007 the Bodleian Library received a generous donation from a private donor to re-equip the Bibliography Room. The first need was identified as new metal type, and this has now been cast by Offizin Parnassia Vaettis of Vaettis, Switzerland, and was delivered to the Library on 10 October. It consists of 125 kilos of 14-point Caslon, purchased to replace the type currently used for teaching, which is very worn after more than fifty years of use. The remainder of the donation will be spent on a supply of German mould-made paper, and used to cover ongoing costs for printing inks etc., and repairs or new parts which may be needed for the four iron hand-presses and other equipment in the room.
The Bibliography Room was founded in 1949, and has had various locations, originally in the New Bodleian, later in the Clarendon Building and, since 2003, on L-floor of the Bookstack, in what used to be the boxing-room. At present, classes in hand-printing and bibliographical theory are held for students of the English Faculty during Michaelmas Term, and for OULS staff and visiting groups on an occasional basis, although it is hoped to expand the facilities and teaching when the New Bodleian is redeveloped. Students usually hand-set a short text, and print it as a page in a pamphlet or as a single-sheet, using techniques and machinery that have not changed since the early nineteenth century, and have their origins in mid-fifteenth-century Germany.
See pictures of a printing workshop at the Bodleian Library
A short history of letterpress printing at the Bodleian is currently being compiled by the writer of this note, to whom any enquiries about classes and visits should be addressed.
Paul W. Nash
Saturday Duty Officer