About this Blog

This blog hopes to engage with questions and issues
regarding print culture on the periphery of the eighteenth century Atlantic
world, as well as provide updates on new developments and happenings in book

About the Author

Sarah Crider Arndt is a Ph.D. candidate in history at Trinity College Dublin (TCD).  She has an MA in Teaching from Western Illinois University and an M.Phil in Modern Irish History from TCD.  Her current research looks at the production, distribution and consumption of print in Baltimore and Belfast from 1760 to 1825.  More broadly, she is interested in print culture throughout the eighteenth century Atlantic world.  Her most recent class was a graduate seminar on Book History methodology, co-taught at TCD in 2011.

If you would like to contact Sarah please email her at arndtsc at tcd.ie


5 responses to “About

  1. This question falls a little outside your period of focus, but as I know of few people who might be able to answer …

    For three years now I’ve been trying to trace the origins of an illustration of the human central nervous system popular in US biology textbooks from the mid-1840s on. (See related blog posts at http://www.textbookhistory.com). Recently, I’ve been alerted to the invention of electrotyping around 1840. My question is was there trade in pirated illustrations via electrotyping separate from the standard reprint/pirate trade? It does seem as if an awful lot of cyclopedia/dictionary illustrations suddenly began to show up in US textbooks about that time.

    • Ron,
      This is a great question, and while I am not an expert on electrotyping, I may have at least a partial answer for you. There was always a very active reprint or pirate trade in illustrations. In the eighteenth century this usually involved American publishers hiring an engraver to duplicate a plate from a British artist, something that was not illegal in the US. These were usually very close to the original but not as high quality. Technical developments like stereotyping and electrotyping simply made this process easier and cheaper; hence the proliferation of images from the 1840s.
      Images were important selling points for books. Many of the recommendations at the beginning of the third edition of Cutter’s work mention the number of plates as a reason for recommending the work. These were probably also promoted in the book’s advertisements. However, original images were even more useful in marketing new works. If you could find some of the original advertisements for the first edition they may be able to give you some evidence regarding the images. If the images are completely new engravings then they were probably promoted as such in the advertisements, otherwise the advertisements probably only mention the number of plates. I would assume that these images were ‘borrowed’ from someplace else, unless they are specifically promoted as original illustrations. Even if they are advertised as new you could still maintain a bit of skepticism. The American Antiquarian Society has an excellent early American graphic arts department, so a search through their catalogue or an email to their department may turn up some leads for older versions of this image.
      Hope that help.

  2. Sarah,
    Thank you! Your reply has already been most helpful. Picking up on your cues, I found a book, Smith and Horner’s Anatomical Atlas, advertised in 1839, registered in 1843 and I assume published that year or the year after. It contains clear reference art for most the illustrations that appear in Cutter’s 1845 Anatomy and Physiology, all of which appear to be reengravings. I gather from Adrian Johns’ book, Piracy, that the announcement of an intent to publish via an ad was often done to claim “ownership” of a pirated title in the days when courtesy rather than law ruled the intra-national reprint trade. Have I got that right? Of course I suspect that the illustrations in Smith and Horner’s Atlas were copied from an earlier European source (or sources), as was common. My only bummer is that the illustration of my obsession did not appear in Smith and Horner’s book. Cutter (and publisher Mussey) must have sourced it from some other work. So my hunt continues.
    Again, thank you,

    • Ron,

      I am glad I could be of help. Your understanding of the courtesies of the trade is correct, publishing an announcement of intent to publish should have secured the
      ‘copyright’ to something like this in the US. However just to note, that this wouldn’t necessarily prevent anyone from using the illustrations from this book in another publication. Images could be copyrighted, but usually were not because it was not generally seen as benficial since the cost of actually reproducing the images (before the 1840s) was so high.

      Best of luck with you hunt.


  3. Pingback: I speak to you through electrical language: traveling into the nineteenth century with the “nervous icon” at Textbook History

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s