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Maughan Library exhibition: The printed page

Maughan Library, Strand Campus, London

19 Mar Woodcut image from an 18th century chapbook

The printed page: the work of the printer over the past 500 years

The Weston Room, The Maughan Library, Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1LR

Monday 19 March – Saturday 30 June 2018

Opening hours:

Monday to Friday 09.30 - 17.00; Saturday 10.00 - 18.00

This exhibition examines the work of the printer over the past 500 years, through a selection of items from the Foyle Special Collections Library. Some of these items were printed in the vicinity of the Maughan Library, the area most closely associated with the historic British book trade.

The exhibition begins with examples of incunabula (books printed before 1501) and examines the revolutionary changes that the advent of printing with movable type engendered.

We display copies of the herbal Hortus sanitatis, from 1491 and 1497 and a copy of the 1493 biblical paraphrase, the Nuremberg chronicle

The early printer often combined the roles of printer, publisher and bookseller; and as the book trade developed in Britain, it became centred around Fleet Street, just to the south of the Maughan Library. In the 18th century the book trade began to acquire its present-day professional demarcations, as the functions of printer, publisher and bookseller gradually ceased to be combined in one person.

The Industrial Revolution brought the inevitable expansion of the book trade, as the printing process was mechanised, but also gave rise to a conscious harking back to the craft tradition, exemplified in the productions of William Morris’s Kelmscott Press. On display in the exhibition is an 1892 edition of the Kelmscott Press's The history of Reynard the foxe, a reprint of William Caxton’s 1481 translation.

Elsewhere in the exhibition we explore how many printers have attracted unwelcome attention from the authorities and been viewed with suspicion by officers of the state. The exhibition ends with a selection of artists’ books, items with unusual formats and concrete poetry productions, whose experimental nature challenges our preconceptions of what a book should look like.

Please see closure dates and further information here.


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