02 November 2014

Old books of interest

1738, and 1813
Found in Spitalfields market, being sold for £1 each ... three books printed before wood pulp was used for paper - the sort of books that are good for making "new" paper from, and for cutting up and re-using in various crafty projects.

Wood pulp started to be used for paper in the 1840s. Before that, rags were used - and it was mechanical spinning, with the potential for production of more fibre and cloth and rags, that led paper to become cheaper. By 1900, chemical pulping processes (= acidic paper) were the dominant means of production. The Fourdrinier machine, patented in 1801, allowed continuous rolls of paper to be made, a process that was central to industrialised paper making, which in its early days used cotton or linen rags, mechanically beaten to pulp.

The books of sermons include a considerable human investment in making the paper, sheet by sheet (they were printed 16 pages to the sheet). And of collating the folded signatures.
Signature marks at the the bottom of the pages helped to get pages and sections in the right order
The leather covers are crumbling, as they might after more than 200 years. The sermons are probably of little interest nowadays, but I hope at least one real copy is safely tucked away in some library.

The "sermons preached upon several occasions" are by Robert South (1634-1716), who was known for his combative preaching (he grew up in Cromwellian times, and served under kings). The sermons were collected and first published in 1692, with a second edition in his lifetime in 1715.

South's sermons are not to be confused with the collection of almost the same title by John Wesley, founder of Methodism (you can get Wesley's Sermons on Several Occasions as an "enhanced e-book"). Wesley (1703-1791) was always very vocal about ordinary people being excluded from the church, and preached in public places - he is said to have preached 40,000 sermons and travelled 250,000 miles.

Pilgrim's Progress ... there must be zillions of copies of any or all editions of this classic book still around. Bunyan (1628-1688) started to write it while imprisoned (for unlicensed preaching). First printed in 1678, Pilgrim's Progress has never been out of print and has been translated into more than 200 languages. Along with the Bible, it was considered suitable for reading on Sundays in strictly sabbatarian households. Does it still appeal to the ordinary person? You can watch Yorkshire Television's 1985 serialisation (113 minutes) here.

My 1813 version has "copious notes by W Mason" linking passages to scripture and doctrine, and a prefix of "The life and death of Mr John Bunyan". Along with its foxing and whiff, I plan to make it into paper, someday. But I'll keep the title page - look what's on the back of it -
The front cover is missing, but the back cover has more names and dates -

No comments: