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Book History Workshop 2017, Lyon, France.

Book History Workshop 2017

The next Lyon Book History Workshop will take place from 26 June to 29 June 2017. "For the 14th edition of its Workshop, the Lyon-based Institut d’histoire du livre is offering 4 courses in the fields of book and printing history, taught by James Mosley with Nelly Gable, Neil Harris, Isabelle de Conihout and Dominique Varry. The four classes run simultaneously during 4 days at the Enssib LIS University, with practical sessions at the Lyon Public Library [Bibliothèque Municipale de Lyon], the Lyon Printing Museum [Musée de l'imprimerie et de la communication graphique] and other rare book repositories in Lyon. The courses are aimed at a large variety of specialists (librarians, curators, scholars, artisans, scholars, graphic designers, booksellers, doctoral students, etc.) who encounter questions related to the history of the book, printing and graphic communication in the course of their work or research. Each course is taught by a leading international expert in the field with emphasis on the study of original documents.

Each course consists of seminars and practical sessions, adding up to 24 hours of teaching time from Monday, June 26, 9 am to 5:30 pm on Thursday, 29 June 2017. In order to facilitate access to collections and ‘hands-on’ study of original documents, each class is limited to 12 students.

Course fees (one course – 4 days): Full price: 510 euros

Student price: 310 euros (required mandatory documents: a cover letter, CV and a copy of your university student card) The course fees include the provision of study materials, a welcome
cocktail and tea/coffee breaks. It does not include meals and accommodation.


Workshop coordinator: Dr. Sheza Moledina
1. Printing type: 1450 to 1830 (2017)
Some knowledge of printing type is essential in describing printed materials, and it can be of vital importance in assigning a reliable date and a place of printing to documents in which these details are
either absent or misleading. The object of this course is to trace the development of type and letterforms from the period of the invention of printing until its mechanization during the 19th century. The course will concentrate on the development of the design of printingtypes, and it will look at the relationship between letters used in other fields such as writing, sculpture and architecture, and explore the cultural, technical and economic factors that have had an influence on their development. The course offers a broad historical overview under the following general headings: gothic hands, gothic types, the revival of ‘antique’ capitals in Italy, the humanistic script and early roman and italic types, the ‘Aldine’ roman type in 16th-century France, types in the ‘Dutch taste’ (le goût hollandois, a term used by Fournier le jeune) in the 17th century, the ‘chancery cursive’ hand (cancellaresca corsiva) and the calligraphic revolution of the later 16th to 18th centuries, new types of the 18th century in France, Britain and Italy, and the commercial types of the first decades of the 19th century. There will also be sessions in which original artefacts and documents at the Museum of Printing in Lyon will be examined and studied. The course includes a session devoted to the traditional process of making types with a punch, matrix and mould, with a demonstration of casting type by hand. Nelly Gable who is punch-cutter (National Craft Living Treasure) at the Atelier du livre d’art et de l’estampe of the Imprimerie Nationale and who is responsible for its material
collections of punches and matrices will give a demonstration of her work. Course in English with the possibility of discussion in both English and French.

Instructor: James Mosley
Professor, University of Reading

James Mosley is a professor in the Department of Typography & Graphic communication at the University of Reading (UK).  He was was for many years librarian of the St Bride Library in London. As a student he worked at the Water Lane Press in Cambridge, the bibliographical workshop of Philip Gaskell, and he had brief practical experience at a typefoundry in London. He has written and lectured extensively on the history of European and English typography. He curated the exhibition Le romain du roi: la typographie au service de l’État at the Musée de l’Imprimerie in 2002 and contributed to its catalogue. He added an introduction and notes to the facsimile edition of Fournier le jeune, Manuel typographique (1764) and of its English translation by Harry Carter that was published in 1995. His study of the revival of the sans-serif letter, The Nymph and the Grot (1999) was published to accompany an exhibition at the Soane Museum, London.
His personal blog, with the title ‘Typefoundry: documents for the history of type and letterforms’ ( comprises a series of essays on these topics.

2. Teaching Bibliography Rare book schools are very much about: 'look at the object,
and tell me what you see'; at the same time, courses on how you tell people to do this are not common. A course on 'Teaching the History of the Book' has been offered at RBS Virginia on a number of occasions, with teachers such as Terry Belanger, most recently in 2007;  however the plan is something rather different, i.e. find out whether you know enough about bibliography and books to talk about them in a convincing fashion, and how good a teacher you really are. So, don’t sign up for this course unless you are prepared for a hard time! 
Materials and locations. 
Most of the sessions will be at the Bibliothèque municipal de Lyon, with particular use being made of the 'fichier Parguez' to find books with unusual or idiosyncratic features, including a set of unbound books from Florence at the beginning of the 19th century purchased for previous courses. Sessions
will also take place at the Musée de l’Imprimerie, where many of the items likewise present unusual characteristics, some of which have been described in the recent Guide déraisonné. One session at the Musée might also explore some of the more unusual features of the collection, such as the ephemera, and also take the chance to look at the collection of woodblocks and clichés; likewise it is intended to hold a practical session in the workshop, in which students set type and perhaps print a text. The other feature of the course will be that lessons will be hosted in other Lyon libraries, with the collaboration of the librarians, in order to view unusual and interesting items in their collections.

3. French gold-tooled bindings 1507-1967 : major workshops and collectors (2017)
Since the publication in 1951 of Louis-Marie Michon’s La reliure française - an excellent but sparsely illustrated study which is now, inevitably, rather out of date - there has been no serious study of
French bookbinding as a whole. Isabelle de Conihout and Pascal Ract-Madoux aim in their course to
fill this gap by offering a close examination of a large number of remarkable bindings from the period 1507-1967. A hundred or so original bindings (and several hundred photographic reproductions)
will be presented and described. Although bindings are physically inseparable from the content which they enclose, they also have to be considered as autonomous artifacts. French deluxe bindings in particular have to be considered as works of art as much as historical objects.
4. Physical Bibliography (2017)
The largely Anglo-Saxon discipline of analytical bibliography offers an archaeology of the printed book. The course offers a practical introduction to the analysis and description of documents typeset by hand and printed on the common press before 1800. The aim is to familiarize students with the many ways in which books reveal how they were produced, who printed them, and where.
Physical bibliography is an indispensable tool for scholarly editors of rare books, for historians who need to check the validity of printed sources, and for librarians and collectors requiring a full
understanding of the books in their collections. It provides the means of reconstituting the genealogy of successive editions of a given text, of identifying forgeries and pirate editions published under
false addresses in order to circumvent the censors, and of identifying 'manipulations' by unscrupulous booksellers, and fakes which have been put on the market at various times.
The course will be offered in French.
Links to the Workshop


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