“Paper as the Place of Discovery” — A Symposium on October 8-9

October 8th, 2015

We call your attention to a campus symposium – on October 8-9, 2015 – on the intriguing theme of “paper as a place of discovery.” The symposium, organized by Prof. Shira Brisman of the Department of Art History, honors the career and contributions of James Watrous (1908-1999), long the Oskar Hagen Professor of Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The keynote lecture for the symposium is “Computer Vision as Art Historical Investigation” by John Resig, October 8 at 6 PM, Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, Room L160 (http://today.wisc.edu/events/view/90007).

The symposium continues on Friday, October 9, 2015, from 10 AM to 12:30 PM, in the Chazen Museum auditorium. More information at http://www.isthmus.com/events/paper-the-place-of-discovery/ and http://www.facebook.com/UW-Madison-Department-of-Art-History-103296299711245/timeline/ .

In the spirit of the symposium’s topic, we single out a book (printed, and hand-ruled, on paper)  in our Thordarson Collection. Like many a 17th-century English book, it has a copious title: Plain and full instructions to raise all sorts of fruit-trees that prosper in England: in that method and order, that every thing must be done in, to give all the advantage, may be, to every tree as it is rising from its seed, till it come to its full growth: together with all necessary directions about those several ways of making plantations, either of wall-fruit, or dwarf-trees in gardens, or large standard-trees in orchards or fields: touching which last, because it’s so vast an improvement of land, all the profitable and practical ways are here directed to with all exactness: and in the last place the best directions are given for making liquors of the several sorts of fruits. The author was one T. Langford, gent.; and this edition was published in London in 1681. Our copy features a binding with gold tooling, gilt edges, and lively marbled endpapers.

Free front endpaper in T. Langford, Plain and full instructions to raise all sorts of fruit-trees (1681), from the Thordarson Collect. Department of Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Free front endpaper in T. Langford, Plain and full instructions to raise all sorts of fruit-trees (1681), from the Thordarson Collection. Department of Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Our copy also bears the bookplate of Dr. Bulkeley Bandinel (1781–1861), librarian of Oxford’s Bodleian Library (official title: Bodley’s Librarian) in Oxford, born exactly a century after the book’s publication. Bandinel is himself of interest in the history of library collections. Described in Alan Coates, “The Bodleian Library and its Incunabula” (http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/28017/IncCatIntroHistorical.pdf) as “the ‘most outstandingly acquisitive of any Bodley’s Librarian,’” Bandinel evidently also collected in his own right. Witness his personal bookplate in our volume:  

Bookplate in Langford, Plain and full instructions (1681). From the Thordarson Collection, Special Collections, UW-Madison.

Bookplate in Langford, Plain and full instructions (1681). From the Thordarson Collection, Special Collections, UW-Madison.

By the way, the Thordarson Collection also contains a later edition (1696) of Langford’s text, identified as “The second edition revised and enlarged in many places: together with an addition of two intire [sic] chapters of greens and green-houses.” It was those two new chapters that recently attracted my attention, as I planned the current exhibit “Green Green — It’s Green, They Say” in Special Collections. Although the second edition didn’t end up in the exhibit case about greenhouses, the volume — alongside the first version of Langford’s work — awaits your attention in Special Collections.

— Robin Rider