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A touch of class

Two of our regular visiting researchers, Professor Andrew Pettegree (a Long Room Hub Fellow) and Arthur der Weduwen, both from the University of St. Andrews School of History, have been living in the reading room for the past fortnight, working their way through about 2,500 pamphlets in the Fagel Collection and identifying, with a hit-rate of 12-13%, unique copies for the Universal Short Title Catalogue, of which Andrew is director.

Yesterday morning, they held a fascinating class in the reading room for postgraduates and staff from the Trinity Department of History. Andrew opened by asking the group to think about why a 16th century collector of manuscripts would dislike the new invention of print and then showed one of the oldest printed Bibles in the library, printed to look like a manuscript. He gave us a quick talk-through of the progress of printing and compendium-style books, using a 1482 printing of Euclid and other early texts to illustrate some of his points.
The two historians then explained how they determine whether a pamphlet is a unique edition and Arthur showed some of the discoveries they have made during this visit and some of the exciting contents a fairly plain volume can hide. These include the first Dutch newspaper, which ties in with his PhD research, and a 1632 drawing of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

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