Sunday, 3 July 2016

Recent updates to images on this blog

When I started this blog in 2009 I wanted to include larger images than Blogger would host, so I paid for an external host for hot-linked the images. Said host has now gone belly up and all my images have dissapeared, giving this blog—and others I maintain—a derelict look. I decided to shut down one of my old blogs ( and re-post almost the images that had gone missing from this blog.

Since I managed to change the pixel-width of this blog from 400 to 500 fairly early on (in 2010?), I have decided not to continue hosting linked 1000px images for each image on display. Instead, I will post only 500px images and if anyone wants larger ones, you can contact e for this.

Re-posting all the images from more than six years of blogging has taken a lot of time, which means I have done very few new posts of late—something I hope to change. However, I have got to re-acquaint myself with my earlier posts and make a few changes here and there. I have increased the size of the earlier images (where possible), corrected some errors and refreshed some links (especially one from YouTube). If you find any dead links that I have missed please let me know about it! Thanks.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

CFP: Marginalia Conference and Masterclass, 23 September 2016

Below is the CFP for the Marginalia Conference and Masterclass that Paul Tankard, Shef Rogers and I have been organising for the last few months—and which has occupied so much of my "free' time that I have done little more than update old posts on this blog. More details will follow as they become available.

* * * **

The Centre for the Book, Monash University, in collaboration with the Centre for the Book, University of Otago and The State Library of Victoria, are hosting:

Marginal Notes: Social Reading and the Literal Margins.
 A One-Day Conference and Masterclass.

Keynote Speakers: Prof. Bill Sherman, Director of Research and Collections, Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Prof. Pat Buckridge, Griffith University, Queensland

Conference date: Friday 23 September.
Venue: State Library of Victoria, Melbourne

There are margins to both traditional print- and paper-based texts as well as virtual texts. Whatever text they surround, encompass, define or limit, margins are the spaces in which ideas are contested and debated. Historically, readers have used the physical margin as a space in which to respond to the voice of the author, and to communicate with other readers. As it has become increasingly easy to add marginal notes to virtual texts, and for readers to share their electronic marginalia with each other, scholars are able to scrutinise marginalia in new ways and to reconstruct social reading practices on an unprecedented scale. While contemporary and historical annotation practices have much in common, and there is much to be learned about historical practices from studies of contemporary marginalia, historical practices raise unique and challenging interpretative issues of their own. And, although a range of recent studies have increased our knowledge concerning the distribution and availability of books, the identity and diversity of readers and annotators, the spread and even the nature of literacy in the early modern and modern periods, there remain significant challenges for scholars encountering marginalia.

This conference will investigate marginalia in texts from the early modern period to the present, with a particular focus on the interpretative challenges posed by marginalia in the literal margin—whether encountered directly, via digital surrogate or in mediated form. Topics may include:
  • Studies of historical marginalia and annotation
  • Theoretical models and methodological protocols for conceptualising marginalia
  • The reproduction of marginalia in virtual environments
  • The location and use of marginalia via digital surrogate
  • Studies of virtual marginalia that shed light on historical practices
  • Changing or limiting contemporary reader practices in virtual environments
  • Marginal notations as “signs of engagement”
  • The nature and interpretative challenges of pictures, doodles, stains and traces etc.
  • Interpretative issues posed by anonymous vs. celebrity marginalia
  • Particular annotators, or particular annotated texts
  • Marginalia as literary work
  • Commentary as writing, writing as commentary
  • Marginalia as (auto)biographical record or life writing
  • Annotation in combination with inter-leaving and grangerising
It is anticipated that the papers from the conference will form the basis of an edited collection to be published by a quality academic press.

Length of papers: 
Papers will be twenty minutes each (with ten minutes for Q and A).

Please send abstracts of 250–300 words to the convenors by 15 June:
Dr. Patrick Spedding (
Dr. Paul Tankard (

To allow for delegates to make their travel plans and/or apply for funding in a timely fashion, proposals will be considered and confirmations issued as they come in.

Masterclass: Prof. Bill Sherman will conduct a masterclass at the State Library of Victoria, using items from the Rare Books Collection to demonstrate some of the interpretative challenges that annotated material presents to scholars and librarians. Seating is limited. For further details, or to book a seat, please contact Dr. Patrick Spedding (Monash University):

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Harvard Library Company, 1793

I have an octavo volume of Eliza Haywood's The Female Spectator which, acording to a printed label in it (above), was once "The Property of Harvard Library Company, constituted January 1793." The label has a section for a price; the annotation in this area has been erased, but other annotations (below) suggest that the book was disposed of by the Harvard Library Company by 1845, since the new owner ("W.D."?) has added "Bought at Auction Feb. 17/45" and "No.58" to the fixed endpaper.

I have been unable to find a trace of the Harvard Library Company, constituted (by coincidence?) in the same month as the execution of Louis XVI, by guillotine, at the Place de la Révolution. Which is a shame, it would be nice to know more about a library founded, it seems, in imitation of The Library Company of Philadelphia sixty years earlier. If you have any information on this Library Company of Harvard, I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Portraits of James Annesley

As Wikipedia says, James Annesley (1715–60) "was an Irishman with a claim to the title Earl of Anglesey, one of the wealthiest estates in Ireland. The dispute between Annesley and his uncle Richard Annesley was infamous in its time, but his story is perhaps best known today as a possible inspiration for the 19th century novel Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, among other works of literature"—later mentioning "Eliza Haywood's novel Memoirs of an Unfortunate Young Nobleman (1743) … [which] narrates a wildly inaccurate imagining of James' life in the American Colonies." I'd dispute the "wildly inaccurate" but two contributors to this Wikipedia entry are engaged in a war and I have no desire to get involved!

Anyway, I know of three engravings of James Annesley, all appear to be based on one (above), published in March 1744, attributed to George Bickham the Younger (1706–71; fl.1736–58), after an original by Kings—possibly Giles King (fl.1732–46). Two of the three appear on eighteenth-century editions of The trial … between Campbell Craig, Lessee, of James Annesley, plaintif, and the Right Honourable Richard Earl of Anglesey, Defendant which I have. There were many, competing, editions of this trial, the two illustrated editions (below) being that printed "for R. Walker" (ESTC: n13750; online here) and "for Jacob Robinson" (ESTC: t195578).

As you can see below, by comparing each of the reprints with the original, the Walker plate is reversed. The ship, on the left of the original, is now on the right (below); and Annesley, who is facing left is now facing right. I flipped and paired the portraits below to show the background in the same position in both plates, reversing details on Annesley.

Although major features are flipped, minor ones are not, so that, when reversed like this, they do not match: note, in particular, that his buttons and button-holes are now on the reverse side. This is because, if the copiest had copied these features along with the others, in reverse, they would appear be on the wrong side according to prevailing fashions: men's buttons always being on their right, or the viewer's left!

With the Robinson plate (below), the background has simply been erased, so no reversal of major and minor features is necessary. Note how the features of the original ornate frame are retained, and the crown, though the frame is at odds with such an austere background.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

More Eighteenth-Century Dildos

On 15 April this year The Mirror reported that the dildo (above and below) had been discovered by archaeologists excavating an eighteenth-century toilet in Gdansk, Poland (see here).

Someone from the Regional Office for the Protection of Monuments, noted that cleaning revealed (as can be seen below) the dildo to be well-preserved and “in excellent condition” (see here): it is eight-inches long, with a pair of balls. It is covered in high-quality leather, filled with bristles, and has a carved wooden tip. Such an object—described by Herodas in the 3rd century BCE—would have been “certainly expensive.”

The History blog picked up the story (here), adding a few details: that the latrine is in the Podwalu suburb of Gdansk, and the dildo dates from the second half of the 18th century. The latrine is believed to have once belonged to a school of swordsmanship, since old swords were previously discovered at the site.

Marcin Tymiński, suggested—according to the History Blog— that the dildo was “probably dropped in the toilet, either deliberately or in a tragic slippery-fingers accident”; elsewhere this is stated more politely: “According to the archaeologists, it was mistakenly dropped in the toilet by the person who was using it.”

Oddly, it seems to have occurred to only one reporter (here) that, since fencing schools were occupied almost exclusively by males, there is a reasonably good chance that “the person who was using it” was a male. (Such luxury items almost certainly being beyond the reach of female staff or servants.)

For my April 2010 post on Eighteenth-Century Dildos, see here.