Bibliographical Presses Questionnaire
In 1977, the BSANZ Bulletin published a census of bibliographical presses operating in Australia and New Zealand (NB: not private presses, as explained below). In the last thirty years, many of the presses then located—thirteen in all—seem to have been disbanded. It is not clear whether any new presses have since been set up to demonstrate hand-press printing methods to English or Librarianship students in universities and libraries. In order to get a definitive answer to this question, Per Henningsgaard has asked me to circulate a questionnaire (link to the 3-page pdf here) and I have transcribed an excerpt of our original article (below), which explains the features and function of a bibliographical press.
I hope anyone who knows anything concerning Bibliographical Presses in Australia and New Zealand will take the time to fill in this questionnaire even—in fact, especially—if all you have to report is that no such press is, or ever has been, active at your institution.
In fact, if this is the case, then the latter half of the questionnaire will be of particular interest to you, since it enquires more generally about the teaching of bibliography in your institution and how this teaching might have changed over time. The results of this questionnaire will be published in a future issue of Script & Print, along with some reflections on the teaching of physical bibliography in Australia today.
Please send replies to Per Henningsgaard via email (phenningsgaard at yahoo.com), fax (08 6488 1030), or mail (5 Megalong Street, Nedlands WA 6009). Please also forward to Per the name of any Australian or New Zealand institution or person that, to your knowledge, presently runs a bibliographical press or teaches bibliography and/or Book History.
By a “bibliographical press” is meant a workshop or laboratory which is carried on chiefly for the purpose of demonstrating and investigating the printing techniques of the past by means of setting type by hand, and of printing from it on a simple press. (P. Gaskell, “The Bibliographical Press Movement,” Journal of the Printing Historical Society 1 (1965), 1–13). The rationale for such “demonstrating and investigating” is explained by R. B. McKerrow’s statement of 1913:
It would, I think, be an excellent thing if all who propose to edit an Elizabethan work from contemporary printed texts could be set to compose a sheet or two in as exact facsimile as possible of some Elizabethan octavo or quarto, and to print it on a press constructed on the Elizabethan model. Elementary instruction in the mechanical details of book-production need occupy but a very few hours of a University course of literature, and it would, I believe, if the course were intended it turn out scholars capable of serious work, be time well spent. It would teach students not to regard a book as a collection a separate leaves of paper attached in some mysterious manner to a leather back, nor to think that the pages are printed one after another beginning at the first and proceeding regularly to the last. They would have constantly and clearly before their minds all the processes through which the matter of the work before them has passed, from its first being written down by the pen of its author to its appearance in the finished volume, and would know when and how mistakes are likely to arise; while they would be constantly on the watch for those little pieces of evidence which are supplied by the actual form and “make-up” of a book and which are often of the highest value, in that they can hardly ever be “faked.” (R. B. McKerrow “Notes on Bibliographical Evidence for Literary Students and Editors,” Transactions of The Bibliographical Society 12 (1911–13), 220).
The University of Auckland, Mount Pleasant Press, Department of English
The University of Queensland, Shapcott Press, Department of English
The University of Otago, The Bibliography Room, University Library
Victoria University of Wellington, Wai-te-ata Press, Department of English
The University of Sydney, Piscator Press, Fisher Library
The University of Adelaide, Barr Smith Library
The Australian National University, Open Door Press, Department of English
Monash University, The Bibliographical Laboratory, University Library
The University of Canterbury, Underoak Press, School of Fine Arts
The University of Tasmania, New Albion Press, Department of English
Massey University, Department of English
The University of Melbourne, Baillieu Library
The University of Canterbury, Department of English
[As details concerning each press arrive, the font colour will be changed from red to dark green]
UPDATE 28 May 08: Per tells me that UNSW at ADFA had a bibliographical press from 1990 until 2000, which (of course) was not featured in the 1977 survey. As details arrive of post-1977 presses these will be added below, similarly colour coded.
The University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy