Friday, February 11, 2005

Prospect theory and cognitive authority

I recently had a meeting where someone of importance stressed that: “information has to flow to the bottom line.” This individual deals purely in information products that allow the company’s clients to save money. At the time I nodded and responded with those words that I had learned while working in the software industry. I talked about the importance of the customer and the importance of the value proposition. And I believed it. I still do to a certain extent but there’s a train of thought going through my head that is crowding other things out so I had better exorcize it.

Information has to flow to the bottom line

I agree. But there’s one something between the information—or the document that contains that information—and the bottom line of the corporation: the user/reader (I’m being careful not to create a mythical and idealized “user”). The only problem is that the user/reader probably really doesn’t care about the bottom line. As noted by Kahneman and Tversky’s prospect theory, individual behaviour is far from rational from an economic perspective. People make decisions based on all sorts of biases rather than just the utility dictated by the information available to them. This nature of user/reader behaviour becomes important when we consider that they will be the ones making the decision to continue purchasing those information products that are supposed to flow to the bottom line.

Instead of utility, the user/reader will rely on the cognitive authority of the information to make that repurchase decision. As noted by Patrick Wilson, all information is hearsay unless individuals have a reason to consider it otherwise. I suppose this all gets us back to those dreaded bibliographic objectives of accuracy, currency, and authority. Of course, authority will necessarily require establishing cognitive authority likely through demonstrating some knowledge of the user/reader’s concerns and perhaps by understanding the pressure that exists on their bottom line…

Sweets Catalogue: A brief history

While browsing through the pages of early editions of Architectural Graphic Standards I came across an interesting note: “details in Sweets.” As an engineer I am quite familiar with the Sweet catalogues that contain data sheets for just about any product you can possibly imagine; however, I was quite surprised to see a 1932 reference to a trade catalogue—the greyest of grey literature—in a such an academically inspired work as AGS. Before there was AGS, there was apparently Sweets—a product that still takes up (a great deal of) shelf space in almost every North American architecture or engineering firm. So where did Sweets come from?

Tracking down the history of an annually updated work like Sweets is rather difficult. It seems that something that is so close to the actual practice of professionals has garnered little interest from the humanities or social sciences. There are few critical studies of Sweets outside of footnotes; for example, Pai (2002) devotes about four pages to Sweets and provides only one reference—a Ph.D. dissertation by Licthenstein (1990) primarily about the architectural magazine Architectural Record. Primary materials are equally difficult to find. While my local public library has the most recent few years of the Canadian construction catalogue file published by Sweet’s Catalogue Service, the old copies aren’t archived. Archivists aren’t being negligent in this regard. In 1981, Myotka (1981) reported that the complete Sweets ran to 75 volumes! A third challenge for research lies in the corporate structure behind Sweets. While the catalogue was initially established by Clinton R. Sweet in 1906, it was sold to the F.W. Dodge company that same year. F.W. Dodge, in turn, bought by the publishing giant McGraw-Hill in 1961 ("McGraw-Hill Co. maps a purchase," 1960). Unfortunately, the only major corporate biography of McGraw-Hill (Burlingame, 1959) was published the year before talks began between the two companies. The author of the biography, Roger Burlingame was a noted socio-historian of invention and technology and could have provided a valuable interpretive lens for the merger.

Luckily for us, F.W. Dodge and McGraw-Hill are both New York based companies and the New York Times provides some glimpses into the lives of the actors behind Sweets. Indeed, the relationship between McGraw-Hill and the Sweet family takes some interesting turns. But first, I intend to address some issues about the role of Sweets in architectural practice.

So what is Sweets? In a commemorative of the catalogue’s 75th anniversary in 1981, Motyka provided the readers of the New York Times with an introduction. He notes that the 1981 catalogue represents the products of 1,700 manufacturers that the catalogue is delivered to 110,000 architectural, engineering, and contracting (AEC) firms, and to government agencies. He describes Sweets as a middle man:

A manufacturer must buy a minimum of four pages, which costs $4,956 in the general building files. A purchase of 20 pages is more typical, though, and would cost $14,452 in the general building files. Manufacturers who include a large amount of material in Sweet's are eligible for discounts. This year's volumes are 42,281 pages long, and the warehouse in Indianapolis where the loose catalogue pages are stored before binding is the size of a football field.”

He also describes the typical Sweets product entry:

“A typical page in Sweet's describes a product, such as Owens-Corning Fiberglas Sheathing, and includes a photograph of a worker installing the item. The physical dimensions of the item are given, along with installation and packaging information and the uses for the item.”

The use of Sweets within the actual practice of AEC professionals is staggering. A report from 2000 notes that 82% of architectural and engineering firms mention Sweets as their primary product information source as do 60% of contractors—although only 31% of interior designers who rely more on trade magazines (39%) and word of mouth (27%)
("How architects use the Internet to improve efficiency," 2000). When the study was published, (recently incorporated into the McGraw-Hill portal was also the most popular online source of information for AEC professionals. Motyka describes the popularity of Sweets in 1981:

“The easy accessibility and 'one-stop shopping' concept understandably hold a great appeal. For George S. George, an engineer with Metacalf and Eddy, Inc. in Boston and current president of Construction Specifications Institute, Sweet's 'is the single most useful tool to an engineer.'” [NOTE: it's interesting that Mr. George was the president of the CSI. The CSI MasterFormat has had a profound impact on both the structure and indexing of Sweets and AGS]

The importance of Sweets as a comprehensive and convenient information source is certainly consistent with the academic literature. Based on interviews with engineers, Raya and Green note that “Engineers selected sources because they had the right format, the right level of detail, a lot of information in one place” (2004, pg. 563). Engineers’ reliance of vendor provided source of information has also been noted by King, Casto, and Jones (1994), while engineers’ bias towards information that is conveniently available has been noted by a number of other researchers (Hertzum & Pejtersen, 2000; Leckie, Pettigrew, & Sylvain, 1996; Pinelli, 1991). Furthermore, engineers’ preference for visual materials has become increasingly recognized since Ferguson’s initially controversial thesis (1977; 1992).

The behaviours demonstrated by engineers seem to be shared by their brethren architects. Pai, for example, discusses vendor-supplied information as an essential building block for the formation of the information artifacts used in the daily practice of architecture:

“The catalogue was another essential yet marginal genre in the discursive field of architecture. Even toward the end of the century, a period when architects came to rely heavily on standardized building components, the catalogue carried little significance for the discipline.” (pg. 23)

Part of the catalogue’s professional insignificance may have been due to the common practice among engineers and architects of maintaining personal sketchbooks or pattern-books. As noted by Booker
(1963), in a time of little specialized manufacturing (i.e., there were few firms that specialized in either roller-bearings or sash-windows), each architect or engineer had to maintain their own catalogue of patterns, often copied from the work of colleagues or other published sources. This practice represents a consistent professional thread dating from the sketchbooks of the 13th century architect Villard de Honnecourt (Harvey, 1972). The fact that catalogues emerged as a popular medium at all is perhaps more interesting than their insignificance in the 19th century. Pai continues:

“Though architects were already grappling with what was called the ‘catalogue problem,’ they regarded the catalogue as merely a means to an end, having no effect on the integrity of the design process. The trade catalogues that were sent to the architect’s office came in various sizes and formats—from pocket-size to folios, from thin leaflets to hardbound books hundreds of pages thick. As far as the architect was concerned, the catalogue problem was one of sheer quantity and variation of information. The profession’s position concerning this problem was succinctly expressed in the ‘Sweet’s’ Indexed Catalogue of Building Construction… In the introduction to the first single volume of Sweet’s, Thomas Nolan, professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, repeatedly emphasized that the catalogue was not ‘reading material’ but information for reference, belonging in the ‘same category of the dictionary, or the telephone book.’ Its guiding principle was the ‘reference idea,’ the ‘logical way of escape from this muddle.’ In other words, though the information in the catalogue was necessary to architectural design, it was not treated as an integral part of the discipline. The issue was simply one of organizing the information in a ‘concise and systematic way.’ There was no sense that the proliferation of catalogues could somehow affect the nature of architectural practice. Instead, the notion of a ‘scientific standard catalogue and index of building materials’ was established to reinforce the ethical dimensions of building practice.” (pg. 23)

I find it quite interesting that Nolan would emphasize that Sweets is not reading material. By 1981, things had changed. Motyka notes that professional readers of Sweets often use it to spot trends. Popular architectural items like armour plating or environmentally friendly products tend to appear in Sweets prior to either the popular press or the mouths of clients.

While Motyka and Pai provide some insight into the use and significance of Sweets, we’re still in the dark about the actual functioning of the inscriptions within the document; however, history has provided us with one unique glimpse into how these inscriptions were possibly intended to function. Unfortunately, the chronicling document is exceedingly rare (perhaps due to an indexing gaff). In 1951 Howard T. Hovde wrote a review of a recent book for the Journal of Marketing
(Hovde, 1951). Calling it brilliant, Hovde introduced the world to Lèonberg-Holm and Sutnar’s Catalog Design Progress (Lèonberg-Holm & Sutnar, 1950). The two authors were both with the creative department of Sweets and Sweet’s Catalog Service published their book. This rare work was based on their experience with Sweets and they apparently based some of the commentary on the extant 44-year history of the catalogue. Unfortunately, it’s now very difficult to find. WorldCat indicates only 96 copies in library collections; the closest copy to me is buried in the stacks of the Toronto Reference Library; however, there is a very active trade in used copies. Ebay currently lists a copy at $1,000. What’s the deal?

This modest work (spiral bound and less than 100-pages long) is now considered to be a masterpiece of commercial design (Heller, 2003; Makovsky, 2002). Commentators note that the authors presaged Tufte’s work in visual representations and that Catalog Design Progress predicted the visual representation techniques that were later exploited by the World Wide Web, a technology that has become crucial for the dissemination of Sweets. Unfortunately, most libraries assigned it the subject heading "Catalogs--Commercial", a subject heading with a notoriously high cull rate.

Before leaving my discussion of Sweets I want to return to the twist that I mentioned earlier. As noted, Clinton W. Sweet sold his catalogue to Frederick W. Dodge. Dodge was quite successful and died a relatively young man in 1915 ("Frederick W. Dodge dead," 1915). His one-time partner Clinton W. Sweet followed him several years later. It seems that after selling his catalogue business, Sweet returned to the greener pastures of garment manufacturing, establishing the very successful Sweet-Orr Overall Company. His success was to be short-lived:

“Clinton W. Sweet, head of Sweet-Orr & Co., Inc., manufacturers of over-alls, and founder and editor of the Record and Guide, a New York City real estate paper, and of the Architectural Record, was found dead in bed at his Yonkers home on Old Jerome Avenue yesterday morning. A bullet from a revolver which he held in his hand had passed through his head. Coroner Egle investigated and the death certificate gave 'probable suicide' as the cause of death.” ("Find aged editor dead with pistol," 1917)

[NOTE: According to Shanken, Sweet started Real Estate Record and Building Guide in 1868, and Architectural Record in 1891.]

We can only imagine Sweet as a man driven to the brink with rage at his folly for having sold off his most precious asset: Sweets. This conjecture is probably false. Sweet died as quite a wealthy man and left considerable sums of money to his two sons ("Sweet estate $2,160,782," 1918). His sudden death led to a change in leadership at Sweet-Orr and his son, Stanley A. Sweet took over as president of the firm. Stanley had two sons: Stanley Jr. and (luckily for us) Clinton W.

The next we hear of the Sweet family is in 1944. Clinton W. is acting as the best man in the wedding of his brother Stanley Jr. The bride’s name is Barbara Whittlesey McGraw, daughter of James H. McGraw Jr., then president of McGraw-Hill publishing ("Barbara McGraw to be wed," 1944). Did Stanley Jr. apply pressure to his father-in-law to reclaim that family asset that was lost a quarter of a century earlier? I suppose we’ll never know.

The conclusion of this history is with Stanley A. Sweet Sr. He died in 1952 of a heart attack on the Fenwick golf course ("Stanley A. Sweet dies playing golf," 1952). When he died he was the chairman of Sweet-Orr Overall and on the board for A.G. Spalding and Brothers Inc. While I’m familiar with Spalding, I have never heard of the Sweet-Orr Overall company. Apparently, their factory in Newburgh was torn down in 1968 to make room for an office block hosting such illustrious firms as Xerox, GM financing, a Wall St. brokerage, and lawyers and insurance offices ("Major office building finished on full block in Newburgh," 1968). It seems that Clinton W. Sweet’s second enterprise was ploughed under by services, a sector he left with the sale of his catalogue. A Google search for “Clinton W. Sweet” brings the seeker to McGraw-Hill’s site, which celebrates him as the founder of Sweets. A search for “Sweet-Orr” leads to three eBay auctions for antique buttons.


Barbara McGraw to be web. (1944, May 6). New York Times, p. 24.

Booker, P. J. (1963). A history of engineering drawing. London,: Chatto & Windus.

Burlingame, R. (1959). Endless frontiers: the story of McGraw-Hill ([1st ed.). New York,: McGraw-Hill.

Ferguson, E. S. (1977). The Mind's Eye: Nonverbal Thought in Technology. Science, 197(4306), 827-836.

Ferguson, E. S. (1992). Engineering and the mind's eye. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Fidel, R., & Green, M. (2004). The many faces of accessibility: engineers' perception of information sources. Information Processing & Management, 40(3), 563-581.

Find aged editor dead with pistol. (1917, September 25). New York Times.

Frederick W. Dodge dead. (1915, November 11). New York Times, p. 13.

Harvey, J. H. (1972). The mediaeval architect. New York,: St. Martin's Press.

Heller, S. (2003, June). Ladislav, Sutnar: Web design before the Internet. LOOP: AIGA Journal of Interaction Design Education. Retrieved Febrary 11, 2005, from

Hertzum, M., & Pejtersen, A. M. (2000). The information-seeking practices of engineers: searching for documents as well as for people. Information Processing & Management, 36(5), 761-778.

Hovde, H. T. (1951). Catalog design progress. Journal of Marketing, 16, 117.

How architects use the Internet to improve efficiency. (2000). Design Firm Management and Administration Report, 0(8), 6-9.

King, D. W., Casto, J., & Jones, H. (1994). Communication by engineers : a literature review of engineers' information needs, seeking processes, and use. Washington, D.C.: Council on Library Resources.

Leckie, G. J., Pettigrew, K. E., & Sylvain, C. (1996). Modeling the information seeking of professionals: A general model derived from research on engineers, health care professionals, and lawyers. Library Quarterly, 66(2), 161-193.

Lèonberg-Holm, K., & Sutnar, L. (1950). Catalog design progress. [New York]: Sweet's Catalog Service.

Lichtenstein, S. R. (1990). Editing architecture: "Architectural record" and the growth of modern architecture, 1928-1938. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Major office building finished on full block in Newburgh. (1968). New York Times, p. R6.

Makovsky, P. (2002, July). The shape of information. Retrieved February 11, 2005, from

McGraw-Hill Co. maps a purchase. (1960, November 29). New York Times, p. 51.

Motyka, J. (1981, August 23). Catalogue marks 75th sweet year. New York Times, p. R6.

Pai, H. (2002). The portfolio and the diagram : architecture, discourse, and modernity in America. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Pinelli, T. E. (1991). The information-seeking habits and practices of engineers. Science and Technology Libraries, 11, 5-25.

Stanley A. Sweet dies playing golf. (1952, August 4). New York Times, p. 15.

Sweet estate $2,160,782. (1918, August 4). New York Times, p. 28.

UDPATE. October 22, 2006.

It seems that I'm not the only one with a passing interest in Sweet's. Andrew M. Shanken has put together a very interesting discussion of its role in architectural practice. Our discussion are largely orthogonal--his being considerably more well researched and, frankly, interesting. Here's the citation:

Shanken, Andew M. (2005). From the gospel of efficiency to modernism: A history of Sweet's catalogue, 1906-1947. Design Issues. 21(2), 28-47.

Shanken discusses the evolution in the form of Sweet's. The catalogue aroese in response to the need for greater information to service the changing nature of architectural practice:

"The new skyscrapers, railroad stations, and other industrial and commercial structures, both individually and collectively, forced the building industry to rationalize. This meant forsaking the intimate and quasi-familial basis of business that prevailed before the advent of the corporation. The new system evolved to accommodate the new scale of operation." (pg. 29)

The scale of industry and construction early in the twentieth century called for a whole new process of creating and disseminating information. The process of rationalizing information into a common form was widespread throughout various industries. A common thread runs through the efforts of Dewey, Taylor, Dodge, and Sweet. Indeed, Taylor--and scientific management in general--were to play an important part in the "scientific discourse" of Sweet's.

At the time, architects were plagued with a variety of commercial catalogues, each of a different size and format. Sweet's was different. It "would be lean and informative, a rational tool for business, and not a debased vehicle for promotion." (pg. 31)

Sweet--and subsequently Dodge--pressured manufacturers to standardize how they presented their material so that the catalogue had a unified feel. Furthermore, it grew to include detailed indices to improve the usablity of the ever-increasing compendium:

"Sweet's imagined a scientific book of tables more than a trade catalogue, and fought 'to induce some of these manufacturers to give up the publication of irrelevant matter... to indue them 'to get down' to stating facts, something about their products that could be weighed or measured, or tested in some way or another.' The modern drive towards a scientific or technical manual for architects came partly to fruition. In the first two decades of publication, diagrams of materials and specification charts played an increasingly larger role, both as a replacement for text as an ornament to the page." (pg. 33)

Sweet's eventually grew to occupy an expanded role. By 1912--as part of F.W. Dodge--it offered consumer advocacy information through its Statistical Research Service and thorugh Dodge's Building Statistics. It also offered Graphic Review, an analysis of statistics for the building trades. The consistent and tightly regimented appearance of Sweet's became less important and two important designers came aboard: Knud Lonberg-Holm and Ladislav Sutnar.

Shanken's discussion of these two desigers is fascinating, but a bit off topic for where I want to go. What I do find interesting is the rise of a standard style epitomized by Sweet's. Both desigers published guides that defined how to create modern catalogues and Sweet's even offered a design service to its clients. Instead of enforcing draconian measures to ensure visual consistency, Londberg-Holm and Sutnar created demand for a particular visual style, which they could sell as outsourced design. The net effect for Sweet's was the same: visual consistency!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Response to Prof. Leckie

As mentioned earlier, my first pre-proposal received some criticism. Before moving on to my new project, I want to make a few comments in order to synthesize the comments. My typical reaction to peer review is to stuff the responses in a drawer with a profoundly honest shrug. Here goes:

As I mentioned to you before, I have no expertise in the area of visual languages or visualization and would not be able to supervise a thesis on this topic. Having said that, however, I do have some general thoughts on the proposal.

First, I have difficulty seeing what is the researchable question in the proposal as currently articulated. This leaves me wondering what, exactly, the purpose of the project is, other than to "climb the mountain because it is there". You do refer to normal science at one point, but I'm not sure you'd want to hitch a thesis to any ideas concerning normal science in this day and age. You also say something about the fact that academics and practitioners don't see eye to eye regarding information behaviour, but I don't think that can be used as a justification for a thesis project.

Point taken. The project I embark on has to address a gap in the literature. That seems like an easy mission but once I torture my interests into a suitable framework, the gap seems to disappear. Perhaps the approach is to take a gap that people clearly recognize and move on from there. I suspect that a number of people recognize that a gap exists between practitioners and academics, yet there isn’t a specific expression to describe it or a specific corpus devoted to it; however, the issue is obliquely referenced to constantly in the HIB literature. We’re missing an expression: “The geldingafell between professionals and academics…” Lesson: work from a gap identified in the literature with a specific vocabulary to describe it.

Second, quite frankly, I would wonder how the development of a visual pattern (some might argue this is the same thing as a model - is it?) of information seeking could sustain a thesis of 250-300 pages in length. Perhaps I'm just not seeing the bigger picture, but it doesn't seem to me there's enough meat there. We already have a number of models of information seeking (Dervin's being the one that springs to mind) so to create more visual patterns from scratch does not seem to me to be the way to go. I might be persuaded if the pattern/model came out of a research question where you had investigated some phenomenon and developed the model out of that but my reading of your proposal suggests to me that you would be going about it the other way around.

<>I suspect I could quite easily fill several hundred pages on the development of a visual pattern; however, the need for a research question is hard to avoid! I haven’t given up completely on the project I positioned in the pre-proposal but I realize that I need to do some groundwork first on the function of visual representations in professional communities. When I think of Dervin’s model I’m struck by two things: what the model represents and how the markings or inscriptions of the model actually work with the individual. I suspect that this question requires greater analysis than what can be afforded by cognitive psychology; rhetorics, conventions, and languages are social things defined by the vicissitudes of an interpretive community. Thinking of the Wilson’s 1999 article that attempted to represent and synthesize the various visual depictions of information behaviour, I have to wonder how those individual diagrams are working—or not working—with the interpretive community of HIB. The whole article is just begging for some sort of critical analysis… Why? Because I think the models suck. Hmmm… there’s that research question again. Perhaps a better approach will be develop a deep understanding of visual representations (i.e., a dissertation) and then conduct the critical analysis.

It might just be that I am more empirically minded and can only envision projects where there is some sort of process of data collection and analysis. However, this doesn't seem to be what you are aiming for. I could imagine doing a more theoretically-based thesis but it still would have to be based on something - perhaps a discourse analysis of a series of canonic texts or some such thing. But, I know of no series of canonic texts which would lend themselves to the project you are describing.

There are some canonical texts but I don’t necessarily think discourse analysis is the right way to approach. Not to say that discourse analysis may not be an important component of the analysis. I have to reread that section is Rose’s Visual Methodologies. She devotes two chapters to discourse analysis so there must be something there.

So, this brings me to my final point - I'm not sure this is a good road to travel. Perhaps Bernie will have some comments that will be more helpful because this idea is closer to the kinds of documentalist research that he does. The reality is that you need to find a topic that a faculty member here feels comfortable supervising and quite frankly, other than Bernie, I'm not sure who could take something like this on.

Keep me posted as to what transpires.


Great advice. Hopefully I can spin something out of my most recent ideas, something more directly related to a particular field and rooted in a specific approach if not a methodology. I suspect that I am soon going to have to make some decisions about how to actually do this thing. By splitting my ideas across two specific eras I’ve left open two distinct avenues of approach: historiography and social. It would be easy for me to do historical research on theatrum machninarum and ethnography on users of Architectural Graphic Standards combined with archive research on Ramsey’s personal files. <>

Choice is good but I’m very conscious of Creswell’s (1994) advice: “Pragmatically, to use both [quantitative and qualitative] paradigms adequately and accurately consumes more pages than journal editors are willing to allow and extends dissertation studies beyond normal limits of size and scope.” (pg. 7) There must be a reason why Prof. Ross made us read that during the first few weeks of our research methods course! <>

Downhill parking:

  1. Can I combine methods?
  2. Will I have to use ethnography to establish materiality or situatedness? It’s certainly in the work of PARC or Leath and Huff. <>
  3. <>How the hell would one go about doing archive research anyways?
A tale of two handbooks (refined version of previous post)

I want to focus on both the materiality and situatedness of information. My intentions are to move away from an interpretation of information as reified works stacked on a dusty shelf, and to separate the mythologized notion of text and writing from the function of documents. In short, I want to explore primarily non-textual inscriptions in ready-to-hand documents in order to better understand the concepts of materiality and situatedness. My target of study is the genre of illustrated technical handbooks.

The theoretical approach I'm considering is the Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) as formulated by Pinch, Bijker, and others. SCOT was formulated primarily to overcome the technological determinism in narrative histories of technology and the macro-focus of Marx-inspired analysis. I'm particularly interested in the possibility of blending SCOT's focus of "interpretive communities" with recent scholarship on the history of the book that studies stages in the production cycle of documents.

The genre of technical handbooks is a very broad topic. My intention is to focus on two particular eras framed by significant changes in production technology. The first era is the dawn of technical representation, which occurred just after the introduction of the printing press and the attendant shift from craft knowledge to scientific knowledge. The machine books, or theatrum machinarum, of the 15th and 16th centuries are the best exemplars of this shift (and are generally available in edited editions or in high resolution online versions). The second era, our own, is marked by the evolution of modernism and the introduction of electronic documents. Architectural Graphics Standards (published since 1932 and recently released electronically) is perhaps the best exemplar. All 10 editions of AGS are available through ILL and the papers and correspondence of the original editor are archived at Cornell.

While there is a body of historical literature on the theatrum machinarum, mostly created from a narrative historiography, and there is a growing body of critical work on AGS (mostly in dissertation form), to my knowledge there has never been a comprehensive analysis of these works conducted from either a documentalist or social constructivist perspective. My intention is to complete this analysis. Of particular importance for my analysis is how both the inscriptions and documents are embedded in daily practice. Each of the two eras provides a valuable interpretive lens: from the theatrum machinarum we have the gift of hindsight; from AGS we can establish actual eye-witness accounts of the use of the documents. Together, the two eras offer a means of developing further understanding of the materiality and situatedness of documentation.

Moving to handbooks

My first preproposal for a dissertation topic didn't go over all that well. I'll admit that it contained some major gaps and displayed symptoms of multiple personality disorder (see endnotes). Instead of throwing the whole thing out, I'm going to focus on the first part of the preproposal and expand the premise. In so doing, I'm hacking out a number of things: information behaviour as a professional enterprise, empirical research, validation, and pattern languages. Instead, I'm going theoretical and historical.

The premise of my proposal is that we should develop new understandings of information and documentation. From this perspective, I'm adopting a documentalist approach. In general, recent work in this oevre has called for greater attention to the materiality and situatedness of information. In some ways, this approach has much in common with the information behaviour research inspired by workplace studies. The main difference, however, is the necessity of materiality. Information is no longer taken to be a some sort of mythical thing created by the whims and visions of somewhat mythologized "users." Instead, information is the just the stuff of documentation and it's the materiality of the artefact that becomes paramount.

To explore the materiality of documentation I intend to focus on two particular aspects. The first is the nature of the document itself i.e., the container of the information. Instead of exploring documents that have only fleeting significance to individuals, I want to explore those documents that are "ready-t0-hand": those things that we don't necessarily think about using and that are ingrained into our daily practices. While there are any number of such documents, my particular interest is in professional--specifically technical--practices so I think I will focus on handbooks. A handbook such as Architectural Graphic Standards sits on the corner of a professionals desk and becomes wrent through usage. Handbooks like AGS get consumed through usage as they become more than just reference works. Instead, they are like cognitive prosthetics.

Okay, I made a lot of assumptions and leading statements in that last paragraph but the point is straight forward: to understand the materiality of documentation in daily practice, focus on those documents that are used daily.

The second aspect of study is the nature of the markings that actually embody and transmit the information. In some ways we have reified text to this kind of uber-status. Victorian notions of the value of literacy, reading, and writing distort our understanding of information. Perhaps we feel that we have a symbiotic relationship with writing, that writing has made us what we are. My intention is to use a different sort inscription. While different genres of writing have become ensconced in various professional communities (i.e., the legal community or the medical community) the roots of these writing genres are somewhat vague. In comparison, technical drawing and technical illustration as used by engineers and architects have very clear roots in the 15th and 16th centuries.

My goal then, is to focus on handbooks as documents. And to focus on technical graphics as the markings within those documents.

A caveat--while my intention is to focus on technical graphics, research has demonstrated that these graphics generally occur with text. Although graphics will be my primary focus, it is essential to recognize their relationship with text.

Now that I've limited my focus to handbooks and technical illustration, I need to figure out how to explore the concept of materiality in this context. My instinct--not yet scholarly opinion--is to use a method borrowed from the sociology of science and technology, preferably (from my perspective) a micro approach, something like Actor-Network-Theory (ANT) or the Social Construction of Technology (SCOT). The both provide very valuable frameworks for studying technology while being conscience of the traps of technological determinism. They both also identify a number of vectors of approach. SCOT is particularly robust in this manner and resonates with Darnton's work on the history of the book i.e., the importance of interpretive communities.

Both of these approaches--ANT and SCOT--also explicitly call for an analysis of modes of production. With ANT, the actants involved in production are essential for an important piece of the social puzzle. Similarly, the producers of technology are one of the crucial interpretive communities... I'm going to have to spend some more time figuring out these details. Regardless, moving towards a materiality of documentation requires some appreciation for the material culture of documentation and necessarily calls up questions of mode of production.

I suppose what I want to do is narrow my topic to a particular area or arena of focus. One structuring trope may be to use technology of production. An interesting approach, for example, may be to explore the concept of handbooks and technical illustration from two very different eras. The first era would be soon after the introduction of the printing press. The second era could be immediately prior to the introduction of the Internet. So, for the first set of studies I could explore the functioning of documents and technical illustration as the mode of production shifted from chiro- to typographic. For the second, as the mode of production shifted from typo- to electrographic.

This talk of modes of production calls for a Marxist approach... that I don't want to do. I want to stay consistent with the micro-structural approach of ANT or SCOT and avoid (wherever possible) discussion of the macro kind. My intention is not to pull a Braverman of handbook production but rather to explore the phenomena of handbook use and technical graphic interpretation.

This brief piece leaves me with a number of questions:

1. What is SCOT?
2. Is SCOT different from ANT?
3. Can SCOT or ANT incorporate elements of book history a la Darnton?
4. What are the modes of production from chiro to typo i.e., Eisenstein?
5. Who were the makers of the early handbooks? Keep in mind the Cat Massacre...
6. What questions are there for AGS? This is a big question...


From a "present-to-hand" copy of the DSM-IV (I'm not even sure why there's a copy sitting on the desk where I currently happen to be writing):

* Diagnostic criteria for 300.14 Dissociative Identity Disorder:

A. The presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states (each with its own relatively enduring pattern of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and self).

B. At least two of these identities or personality states recurrently take control of the person's behaviour.

C. Inability to recall important personal information that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness.

D. The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., blackouts or chaotic behavior during Alcohol Intoxication) or a general medical condition (e.g., complex partial seizures).

Note: In children, the symptoms are not attributable to imaginary playmates or other fantasy play.

Note to self: maintain "imaginary playmates"


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Big timeline of drawing, publishing, etc.

NOTE: most of the publishing info drawn from


History of writing/books

History of tech drawings


Sumerians use cuneiform alphabet, pressed in clay with a triangular stylus. Clay tablets were dried and/or fired for longevity. Some even had clay envelopes,' which were also inscribed. Some people consider them to be the earliest form of the book.


Animal skins are used for scrolls in Western Asia.


Date of the earliest surviving papyrus scroll with writing.


Hittites, from between 1900 and 1200 BC, left appr. 15,000 clay tablets


Book of the Dead, Egypt


The 'Phaistos disc', found on the island of Crete in 1908, was produced by pressing relief-carved symbols into the soft clay, then baking it. Although it contains the germ of the idea of printing, it appears to be unique.


Leather is made and used for scrolls and writing.


Moabite stone is created with one of the finest specimens of Phoenician writing. The letters resemble Greek.


Papyrus. First rolls arrive in Greece from Egypt


6th C. BC General agreement among Mediterranean cultures on left-to-right writing and reading. Before that, there was L-R, R-L, top-to-bottom, and boustroph
edonic (back-and-forth). The Hebrews kept R-L.


Lao-Tze's lifetime, was said to have been archivist of the imperial archives


(431-352 BC) author of Anabasis and Memorabilia.


King Ptolemy I Soter enlisted the services of the orator Demetrios Phalereus, a former governor of Athens, and empowered him to collect, if he could, all the books in the inhabited world. To support his efforts, the king sent letters to all sovereigns and governors on earth requesting that the furnish workd by poets and prose-writers, rhetoricians and sophists, doctors and soothsayers, historians, and all others too (Flavius Josephus). Agents were sent out to scout the cities of Asia, North Africa, and Europe. Foreign vessels calling in at Alexandria were searched routinely for scrolls and manuscripts. Transcripts were returned in due course, but the originals remained confiscated in the library. The story of the 47 AD destruction of the library is only partly true. Some 40,000 of the 700,000 volumes did go up in flames.


Chin Tain Shihuangti, emporer of China, issued an edict that all books should be destroyed (manuscripts on bamboo)


Before 1st C. BC Both Greeks and Romans used wax tablets, framed and backed with wood, for note taking, orders, correspondence, and other temporary information. At times, two or more tablets were joined with thongs or cords, similar to a 3-ringed binder. The Latin name for this was _codex_, from the word for wood. Single wax tablets had been used earlier than this in Mesopotamia, Greece, and Etruria.


197-159 BC In the Middle East, near Pergamum, large herds of cattle are raised for skins to be made into what we now call 'parchment.'


The'Rosetta' stone is cut. It contains the same text in Egyptian hieroglyphic, Egyptian demotic, and Greek writing. It was discovered in 1799 near the mouth of the Nile and served to break the code for deciphering ancient Egyptian works.


The first paper is made in China from macerated hemp fibers in water suspension.


150 BC - 40 AD Approximate dates of the Hebrew and Aramaic documents, Biblical and nonbiblical, found as scrolls sealed in ceramic pots in caves near the Dead Sea in 1957. Some are written on thin, whitish leather similar but not identical to parchment


1st C. BC - 1st C. AD The Romans substituted skin, or membranae, for the wood panels in codices. It is unclear just when this was done and whether membranae was similar to Medieval parchment or to the thin leather of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but it is known that there are no examples or records of this substitution prior to the Romans. Later, Romans used codices to record laws and rules of
order, lending the name codes or codicils to such documents.


1st C. AD By the end of this century, the form of the book had largely changed from the scroll to the codex.


Nash Papyrus, oldest known biblical fragment, containing the Hebrew text of the ten commandments. Acquired in Egypt 1902 by W.L.Nash and now in Cambridge University Library.


Libertas. Asinius Pollio establishes first public library in Rome at the Libertas Temple


Augustus. Under the reign of emporer Augustus two large libraries were founded, the Palatine and the Octavian library


The great Library of Alexandria was damaged by fire when Julius Caeser besieged the city. It was said at one time to contain copies and translations of all known books (scrolls), between 400,000 and 500,000. It was later ravaged by civil war in the late 200s AD and by 400, nothing was left.


Ulpia. Bibliotheca Ulpia founded by Trajan, also serving as emperial archive


Chinese history records that papermaking was invented by Ts'ai Lun in the court of Ho'ti in Lei-yang, China. Paper had, in fact, been made in China for at least two hundred years before this date. The first papers were made from hemp, bark, and used fish nets.


Palatine library destoyed by fire


Public libraries, in these days there were said to be 28 public libaries in Rome


Alexandrian Library destroyed under the direction of Archbishop Theophilus of Antioch (destruction of temple of Serapis)


(480-524), the last learned Roman to study the language and literature of Greece. He wrote his DE CONSOLATIONE PHILOSOPHIAE while awaiting his execution. The Consolation of Philosophy is a dialogue of 39 short poems in 13 different meters that paid tribute to the ancient authors and philosophers.


Luxeuil. Monastery founded by Columban, first monastery in Gaul. Irish Monks brought along numerous manuscripts


Caesarea Library destroyed by Arabs conquering Palestine (library was originally founded by church father Origen who died 309 AD)


Undoubtedly one of history's most dramatic book exhumations involves a manuscript copy of the Gospel of St.John that was buried in the year 687 with the body of St. Cuthbert, bishop near Lindesfarne. Two hundred years later Danish invaders sacked the holy compund, carrying with them the remains of Cuthbert. In 1104 the carved wooden casket was opened and the Gospel, a manuscript written in uncial, was found perfectly preserved.


Lindisfarne Gospels written on 258 leaves (link to on-line reproductions: )


Codex Amitinus, manuscript of the Vulgate written in Northumbrian uncial.


Amiatinus. Codex Amiatinus, made at the scriptorium of the twin monasteries Wearmouth and Jarrow near Newcastle, Northumbria. This codex brings together the entire old and new testament in 1,030 folios in a single binding..


Aureus. Codex Aureaus written, probably at Canterbury


Canterbury School of manuscript illumination, active until 13th century.


Paper making reached Samarkand before 750, Baghdad in 793, Damascus and Cairo in approximately 950. Through the Arab conquest of North Africa and Southern Spain, the invention first reached the Moorish parts of Spain in the 11th century. A mill was recorded at Fez in Morocco in 1100, and the first on the Spanish mainland at Xativa in 1151. It reached Southern Italy in the 13th century, where, untill quite recently, some of the oldest handmade paper mills in Italy were operating near Amalfi, in the Naples area.


Willibrord Gospels made appr. 750, probably made by the artists of the Book of Durrow


Papermaking introduced in the Islamic world


Marbling in Japan, first Turkish marbled paper 1586, first Dutch 1598


Kells, Book of. Written and painted at the Columbian monastery of Iona or at the Abbey of Kells in Ireland. 340 folia survived. Since 1661 in Trinity College, Dublin


China, oldest known woodblock printing (method was in use much earlier)


The first book printed on paper in China, in block printed Buddhist scripts.


Colophon, oldest known manuscript colophon, in Books of the Prophets written by Moses ben Asher in Tiberias.


Winchester School, 950-1100, characteristic style of manuscript illumination


Abingdon Monastery founded by Aethelwold, monks famous for manuscript illumination, Winchester School


In 1403 the earliest known book was printed from movable type in Korea, a process that had been used by the Chinese as early as 1041. In 1450 Gutenberg printed his 42-line Bible in Mainz on a quality of handmade paper that remains unsurpassed to this day. 26 Years later William Caxton brought the art of printing to England, and in 1486 the first English coloured illustrated book was printed in St. Albans.


Fatimite. Library of the Fatimite family (Cairo) destroyed by the Turks


Papermaking in Jativa Spain


Winchester Bible, 1140-1190, English late Romanesque illumination


Utrecht Psalter, Eadwine Psalter, copy of the Utrecht Psalter, example of Canterbury Romanesque written at Christchurch by Eadwine


Papermaking mill established in Capellades, Catalonia


Fore Edge Painting, first on French psalter manuscript

Villard de Honnecourt’s sketchbook (Design and construction drawing; sketch book/ notebook)


The first record of block printing (on paper?) in Egypt.


The important invention of watermarking was made at one of the Fabriano Mills in Tuscany during the second half of the 13th century. One can assume that the reason for the watermark was to give the product a branded trademark of superior quality. There exists a remarkable archive of Fabriano watermarks going back to the first one in 1276, showing a mark for each year until modern times.


Paper. First papermill established in Italy


Fabriano, first Italian papermill was established. Still name of an Italian handmade paper


Edda, Elder Edda (Saemundar Edda) written, presented to King Frederik III by the Icelandic bishop Brynjolfur Sveinsson, now in the Copenhagen Royal Library


Vigevano, Le machine del re (Representational manuscript)


Giovanni Boccacio (1313-1375), author of the DECAMERON.


Biblia Pauperum made in Klosterneuburg near Vienna


Belleville Breviary by Jean Pucelle (Parisian manuscript painter)


Paper, oldest known papermill in France


Berry, Jean duc de (d.1416). Les Tres Riches Heures.


Kyeser, Bellifortis (Representational manuscript)


Bibliotheque Nationale. Charles V is said to be the founder of this library. The 1373 catalogue of his library lists about 1000 volumes, housed in the Louvre


Bedford, John of Lancaster, Duke. The Bedford Missal, 1423


Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy.


Gutenberg, Johann, d.1468, born in Mainz as Johann Gensfleisch zum Gutenberg


Chaucer died

Master Gun-maker’s Booklets (Practitioner booklets)


Ellesmere Chaucer, illustrated manuscript of the Canterbury Tales


Woodcut, oldest known specimen


Rohan Book of Hours, made for Yolande of Aragon.


Fouquet, Jean, d.1480, leading 15th century manuscript painter (Hours of Etienne de Chavalier)


Jenson, Nocolaus, d. 1480, punchcutter and printer of Venice


Caxton, William, born.


Bisticci, Vespasiano da, d.1498, Florentine bookseller, had people like Cosimo de Medici as customer.


Buxheim Saint Christopher, early dated European woodcut illustrations


Mansion, Colard, d.1484, one of the leading calligraphers in Bruges, Belgium


Marmion, Simon, d.1489. Flemish miniature painter, amongst others Grandes Chroniques de France for Philip the Good


Weyden, Rogier van der, d.1464, illustration in Chronique du Haunaut.


Xylographic. First xylographic books, or block books produced in Germany and Holland


Wolgemut, Michael, d.1519, Nuremberg painter famous for his designs for woodcuts.


Hours of Catherine of Cleves made in Utrecht, Holland


Regiomontanus, Johanes, d. 1476, printer at Königsberg, Germany, publisher of astronomical works


Koberger, Anton, d.1513. Printer in Neuremberg since 1470. First dated book Disciplinarum Platonis Epitome, 1472


Marciana. Bibliotheca Marciana founded by Cosimo de Medici


Chronique du Hainaut, illustration by Rogier van der Weyden (manuscript is in Royal Library of Brussels)


Manutius. year of birth Aldus Manutius (Teobaldo Manucci), d.1515

Taccola’s notebooks and de ingeneis (Sketch-books and notebooks, Representational manuscript)


Constantine library. Many books were burnt in this year (Constantinople captured by the Turks) or carried away and sold


Gutenberg. publication of Turkenkalender (Fust, Schöffer, Gutenberg (??)


Block Books in Europe, between 1455 and 1510.


Biblia Pauperum, first xylographic version made in Germany


Gutenberg. 42-line bible by Gutenberg


Colour printing, earliest example in Mainz Psalter


Mainz Psalter by Fust and Schoffer


Corvinus, Matthias, d.1490, King of Hungary, famous bookcollector


Froben, Johann, d.1527, started printing in Basle 1491. Printer of Erasmus publications


Catholicon of Johannes Baldus printed by Schöffer


Edelstein, der, by Ulrich Boner, printed by Albrecht Pfister of Bamberg, first printed book with woodcut illustrations


Biblia Pauperum issued in Bamberg with handcolored illustrations


Badius Ascensius, Jodocus (1535). Parisian printer


Weijden, Rogier van der, death of.


Biblia Pauperum, first typeset edition made near Brussels, illustrations based on drawings by Rogier van der Weijden.


The first drypoint engravings known in the history of prints are those of the MASTER OF THE HOUSEBOOK, active in Germany between 1465 and 1500. The technique was also used, though rarely, by Dürer, for example in his St. Jerome by a Pollard Willow (1512). The unsurpassed master was to be Rembrandt, who used drypoint on its own, or with etching.


Canticum Canticorum, illustrated by Memling(?) or Van der Weijden(?)


Biblia Pauperum, first typeset edition made near Brussels, illustrations based on drawings by Rogier van der Weijden.


Petrucci, Ottaviano, d.1539. Printer in Venice who established a papermill that remained active until the 19th century


Ars Moriendi published first time


Erasmus, Desiderius, d.1536


Italy. First book printed in Rome by Ulrich Han


Hypnerotomachia Poliphili written by Francesco Colonna


Gutenberg dies February 3rd


Arches Papermill in Vosges, France


Bookbinding, the first time the roller or roulette appeared in German binderies


Malermi Bible (Italian translation of the Vulgate) first printed in Venice by Wendelin da Spira


Durer, Albrecht, d.1528


Cranach, Lucas, d.1553. German painter and woodcutter.

Valturio’s de re militari (Drawings in technological treatises)


DIVINE COMEDY, first printed edition of Dante's epic poem

Anonymous of the Hussite Wars (Practitioner booklet)


Speculum Humanae Salvationes printed by Gunther Zainer


Burckmaier, Hans, d.1531. After Durer leading (book)illustrator.


Ducali bindings, from 1473-1600, bindings made for the edicts, decrees and governor's commisions issued by the Doges of Venice


Philobiblon. Richard de Bury's treatise written in praise of books


Belgium, First books printed by Colard Mansion of Bruges


Intaglio. First book with intaglio illustrations 'Il Monte Sancto di Dio' published in Florence


Grolier, Jean, d.1565. Famous French bibliophile, famous for the bindings of his books


Carpi, Ugo da, d.1533, leading engraver of Venice and Rome, likely one of the developers, inventors of chiarusco printing


Poeticon Astronomicon by Erhard Ratdolt, illustrated with allegorical woodcuts


Cologne Bible by Anton Koberger of Nuremberg


Chevalier Libere, printed 1486 by Gotfred van Os at Gouda (book deals with Charles the Bold)


Caxton, William prints his first books in England, in Westminster


Denmark. Bookprinting came to Copenhagen with the arrival of the Dutch printer Gotfried van Os, who called himself Gotfred of Ghemen


Blado, Antonio, d.1567. Printer in Rome, had cursive type face designed by Arrighi.

Leonardo da Vinci begins work on his Codex Madrid (Sketchbooks and notebooks)


The earliest known etchings are by Daniel Hopfer, active at Augsburg between 1493 and 1536, the Swiss Urs Graf, and Dürer, who did five etchings on iron, among them The Agony in the Garden, and The Cannon. Lucas van Leyden (1489-1533) also used this technique on a few rare occasions. The earliest Italian etching is by Parmigianino (1503-1540), whose prints are more sketchy and spontaneous than those of the Northern artists. Etching is above all the medium of Rembrandt: with it he reached a depth and universality of expression never equalled in the history of prints.


Hartmann Schedel's Weltchronik published with illustrations by Wolgemut


Leeu, Gerard, d.1493, printer at Gouda, Holland


Brant. Sebastian Brant's Narrenschiff published, illustrated with woodcuts, among them the famous Bookfool woodcut by Durer (?)


DAS NARRENSCHIFF by Sebastian Brant, first publication. Within fifteen years the work appeared in one Latin, three French, one Dutch, one Low German and an English version. One reason often cited to explain Brant's far-reaching appeal was that he wrote in short chapters, mixed his *fools* skillfully, and maintained a fluid style that engaged his readers.


Narrenschiff, Ship of Fools, by Sebastian Brant, published by Bergmann von Olpe, Basle, illustrated with 114 woodcuts.


Brant. Sebastian Brant's Narrenschiff published, illustrated with woodcuts, among them the famous Bookfool woodcut by Durer (?)


Narrenschiff, Ship of Fools, by Sebastian Brant, published by Bergmann von Olpe, Basle, illustrated with 114 woodcuts.


Bembo. First Latin book from the Aldus' press was Pietro Bembo's dialog about Aetna (printed in a roman type that became the model for later French types, including Garamond's


Griffo, Francesco, cut 'old face' roman type for Aldus Manutius


Bale, John (1563). Compiler of first bibliography in England


Manutius, Greek Grammar, first book published by Manutius


Lufft, Hans, d.1584, printer-publisher of Wittenberg


Manutius, Edition of Aristotle in five volumes, first complete edition in Greek, printed/published between 1495-1498


Holbein, Hans, d.1543.


Neudörfer, Johann, d. 1563, writing master of Nuremberg, his 'Fundament' was the first writing book to be published (collection of Fraktur scripts).


Durer's Apocalypse series woodcuts


Music Printing using movable type invented by Ottaviano Petrucci of Venice


Printing Press, oldest known reproduction of, in Dance of Death printed in Lyon by M.Huss


Hypnerotomachia Poliphili printed by Manutius


Garamont, Claude, d.1561. Parisian type designer and punchcutter


Manutius. Virgil edition; first book by Aldus Manutius in octavo format


Manutius. First time use of Francescop Griffo's *Italic* type by Manutius


Egenolff, Christian, d.1555, established press and foundry in Frankfurt 1530


Chiaroscuro, first by Georg Lucas Cranach.


Oporinus, Johannes, d.1568, scholar-printer of Basle, issued more than 800 publications, including Koran and writings by Luther. Most important: Andreas Vesalius 'De Humani Corporis Fabrica' (anatomical study)


Earliest dated German colour woodcut: The Emperor Maximilian on Horseback by Hans Burgkmair (1473-1531)


The Emperor Maximilian on Horseback by Hans Burgkmair (1473-1531)


Jost de Negker, active in Antwerp 1508-1544, master of Burgkmair, Cranach and Hans Baldung Grien. Believed to be the inventor of the colored woodcut.


Active in Antwerp 1508-1544, master of Burgkmair, Cranach and Hans Baldung Grien. Believed to be the inventor of the colored woodcut.


Narrenschiff, English adaptation Ship of Fools by Alexander Barclay, based on the latin translation by Jacob Locher.

Drawings of Antonio da Sangallo (Sketch-books and notebooks)


Grolier was in Italy as a French legate from 1510-1537


Mercator, Gerard, d.1592 (Gerhard Kremer) Cartographer, mathematician. 1537 established a business as globe and map maker.


Fraktur, first book printed in this type, Prayer book of Maximilian teh First


Denmark Chronicle printed by Ascenius in Paris


Be, Guillaume le, d.1598, punchmaker, matrix maker and typefounder of troyes


Manutius, year in which Manutius died


Bible. Johan Froben of Basle published New Testament in Greek


Ugo da Carpi (1480-1532), obtained from the Signoria of Venice the privilege for the chiaroscuro woodcut, which he claimed to have invented, even though none of his woodcuts is dated earlier than 1518.


(1480-1532), obtained from the Signoria of Venice the privilege for the chiaroscuro woodcut, which he claimed to have invented, even though none of his woodcuts is dated earlier than 1518.


Teuerdank for emperor Maximilian published in a type that is considered to be a forerunner of the fraktur type. Book was printed by Hans Schönsperger.


Luthers fight against the Roman Catholic church starts. Considered to be the first revolution of ideas supported by the fast and wide spread of written information thanks to the invention of printing


Plantin, Christopher, d.1589


Cambridge University Press founded.

Vitruvius republished, De architectura libri dece (Drawings in editions of classical sources)


Luther, Melchior Lotter printed the first edition of Luthers' translation of the New Testament


Holbein's Dance of Death drawn.


Laurenziana. Michelangelo erects building for the Bibliotheca Laurenziana (De Medici collection)


Ortelius, Abraham, d. 1598, published of Antwerp (original name: Abraham Wortels), cartographer and publisher of maps. Theatrum Orbis Terrarum 1570


Feierabend, Sigmund, d.1590, woodcutter and typecutter, Heidelberg, Germany


Enchiridion der kleine Catechismus fur die gemeine Pfarher und Prediger, Gemehrt und gebessert durch Mart.Luther, Wittenberg


Tory, Geoffroy Tory's Champleury published in Paris


Tory, Geoffroy, becomes the first royal printer in Paris


Miguel de Cervantes (1513-1616), author of DON QUIXOTE


Krause, Jakob, d.1586. German bookbinder, active in Paris , Augsburg and Dresden


Emblem Books, the first anthology of emblems was printed in Augsburg by Heinrich Steiner: Emblematum Liber


Frankfurt Bookfair


Luther. First complete Luther bible translation, illustrated, was printed by Hans Lufft at Wittenberg


Lotter, Melchior, d.1536, printer of Leipzig, friend of Luther


France I ordered that all French presses should deliver a copy of every book they printed to the royal library

Tartaglia, Nova scientia (Drawings in treatises on mechanics)


Dance of Death with Holbein's illustrations printed in Lyon by Gaspar and Melchior Treschel


Holbein's Dance of Death published in Lyons


Amman. birth Jost Amman


Keere, Hendrik van den, d.1580. Punchcutter, binder and printer in Ghent, Belgium


Paper, first papermill in Stockholm


Egerton, Sir Thomas, d.1617, founder of one of the oldest private libraries in Britain; in 1917 a large portion of the archives was bought by Henry E. Huntington


Vesalius, Andreas, 'De Humani Corporis Fabrica', anatomical study, published by Johannes Oporinus


Moretus, Joannes (Jan Moerentorf), d.1610. Plantin's son in law and successor.


Bodley, Sir Thomas, d.1613. Rebuilder of Oxford University Library bearing his name.


Granjon, Robert, d.1589, Paris/Lyon, punchcutter and typedesigner


Bodley, Sir Thomas, d.1613. Rebuilder of Oxford University Library bearing his name.


Farnese. The Farnese Hours manuscript produced in Rome for Alessandro Cardinal Farnese. Presently in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York


Elzevier, Louis, d.1617, founder of Elzevier Press and publishing office (originally from Louvain, worked with Plantin in Antwerp and later settled in Leyden)


Book of Common Prayer, first complete edition in England.


Oxford library plundered by soldiers of Edward VI


Marguerite de France, d.1615. Wife of Henry IV of France, important book collector amongst others items from library of Duke de Berry


Ferrara Bible printed by Abraham ibn Usque


Ferrara Bible printed by Abraham ibn Usque


Queen Mary acquired the 14th century psalter (English psalter with 223 tinted drawings). Now in the British Library


Civilite, designed by Robert Granjon.

Agricola, De re metallica (Drawings in technological treatises)


Mistress of Henry II, lobbied succesfully for a passage of an ordinance that required French publishers to present copies of every book they issued to the libraries of Blois and Fontainebleau.


Hondius, Jodocus, d.1612, Dutch map engraver


Ceredi, Tre discorsi sopra il modo d’alzar acque da’ luoghi bassi (Drawings in technological treatises)


Polyglot Bible, printed by Plantin between 1569 and 1572 for Philip II of Spain

Besson, Theatrum instrumentorum et machinarum (Theatres of machines)


Ortelius. Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, famous atlas by Abraham Ortelius


Fanfare, until 1640, book cover decoration developed in France (interlacing ribbons)


Blaeu, Willem Janszoon, d.1638. Map engraver, bookseller, printer of Amsterdam


Cotton, Sir Robert, d.1631. famous London manuscript collector, one of the early owners of the Utrecht Psalter


Monte, (Drawings in treatises on mechanics)


Jannon, Jean, d.1658, Geneva, punchcutter, typefounder and printer, worked in Sedan, France.

Will plans of Berthold Holzschuber, perhaps first set of modern construction plans combining both isometric and orthographic views (Design and construction drawings; Sketch-books and notebooks)


Wagoner. Publication of 'Spegel der Zeevaerdt' printed in Leyden by Plantin, seecharts by Waghenaer. From his name was the term Wagoner for seecharts derived

Errard, Le premier livre des instrumens mathematiques mechaniques (Drawings in Theatres of Machines)


Ruette, Mace, d.1644, Parisian master binder and court binder


Wagoner. Publication of 'Spegel der Zeevaerdt' printed in Leyden by Plantin, seecharts by Waghenaer. From his name was the term Wagoner for seecharts derived


Ramelli, Le diverse et artificiose machine (Drawings in Theaters of Machines)


Pappus, Mathematicae collections (Drawings in editions of classical sources)


Plantin's death

Heron, De gli automati (Drawings in editions of classical sources)


Cathach Psalter, attributed to St.Columba, Irish manuscript.


Philippines, The first book printed in Manilla: Doctrina Christiana (Unique copy in Lessing J.Rosenwald collection)


Leipzig bookfair


Jansson, Joannes, d. 1664, Dutch printer and publisher, famous for his atlases

Lorini, Delle forificationi libri cinque (Drawings in technological treatises)


Naude, Gabriel, d.1653, librarian to Cardinal Mazarin.


Dijck, Christoffel van, d.1669, Amsterdam punchcutter, in 1673 his foundry was acquired by Daniel Elzevier


Oxford library reestablished by Queen Elizabeth's statesman Thomas Bodley

Drawings by Heinrich Schickhardt (Design and construction drawings; Sketch-books and notebooks)


Digby, Sir Kenelm, d.1665, donor of the Bodleian Library


Zonca, Novo teatri di machine et edificii (Drawings in Theatres of Machines)


Zeising, Theatri machinarum (Drawings in Theatres of Machines)


Caus, Les raisons des forces mouuantes, auec diuerses machines tant vtilles que plaisantes (Drawings in Theatres of Machines)


Strada, Kuntsliche abrith allerhand wasser- wind- ross- und handt muehlen (Drawings in Theatres of Machines)


Blaeu firm, renown for their atlases, active from 1618 to 1672


Uppsala University founded and books were presented to the university library by Gustavus Adolphus (many of the collections he took from Riga and Prussia and South Germany)


Janson, Anton, d.1687. Dutch typefounder, trained in Amsterdam by Christophel Plantin


Vaillant, Wallerant, d.1677, Dutch artist active in mezzotint technique


Facsimile. first facsimile edition by Plantin, 16th century Martyrologium Hieronymianum (engraved on copper plates)


Naude, Gabriel. In building their libraries Richelieu and Mazarin received considerable assistance from theisr librarian Naude, who published 1627 the book 'Advis pour dresser une bibliotheque'


Blaeu Atlasses made between 1629 and 1662.

Branca, Le machine (Drawings in Theatres of Machines)


Bodleian library, see: Digby, Sir Kenelm


Blooteling, Abraham, d.1690. Developed mezzotint (invented in 1642 by Ludwig von Siegen)


Bay Psalm Book published


Imprimerie Royale du Louvre established at the instigation of Richelieu, first book published 'De Imitatione Christi'


Mezzotint invented by Ludwig von Siegen.


Mazarin, First Mazarin bibliotheque opened for scientists and literary scholars


Devil's Bible. When the Swedes stormed Prague in 1648 they took (stole) many books including the rich collection of the Bohemian kings at Hradschin, many vellum manuscripts, including the Devil's Bible


Atlas Magnus Blaeu made between 1650-1662.


The technique of the mezzotint seems to have been invented by a German soldier, Ludwig von Siegen (1609-c.1680); the earliest known mezzotint is The Grand Executioner done in about 1660 by Prince Rupert, the Palatine Prince Ruprecht von der Pflatz (1619-1682). The Colossus by Francisco Goya (1746-1828), engraved in about 1815, was produced entirely by this technique, which was later taken up by others, notably by Edvard Munch (1863-1944).


Bible. first bible published in America by Samuel Green (John Eliot's Algonquin Indian version)

Bockler, Theatrum machinarum novum (Drawings in Theatres of Machines)


Faithorne,William: 'The Art of Graveing and Etching' published


Blaeu, publication of Atlas Major in 11 volumes


Grandjean de Fouchy, Philippe, d.1714, Parisian punchcutter, a.o. 'Romain du Roi'


Jakob Christof Le Blon (1667-1741) was the first to produce an engraving in several colours. He took as his starting point Newston's theory, published in 1702, which stated that all colours in the spectrum are composed of the three primary colours -blue, yellow and red. In practice, however, in order to obtain a satisfactory impression, a fourth plate had to be added, bearing black lines.


Hollander, paperpulp beating machine, probably by Jacob Honingh in Zaandijk, Holland


Magnus, Albertus (d.) important 17th century Amsterdam bookbinder, amongst others Elzevier Bibles


At her death in 1689, Christina of Sweden's library, known as the Bibliotheca Alessandrina (she considered herself a female Alexander the Great), was transferred to the Vatican Library.


Paper, first papermaking in America


Mazarin. Second Mazarin bibliotheque opened


Caslon, William, d.1766. English typefounder.


Luce, Louis-Rene, d.1774, punchcutter working for the Imprimerie Royal


Fleischman, Johann Michael, d.1768, Nuremberg punchcutter


Jakob Christof Le Blon (1667-1741) was the first to produce an engraving in several colours. He took as his starting point Newston's theory, published in 1702, which stated that all colours in the spectrum are composed of the three primary colours -blue, yellow and red. In practice, however, in order to obtain a satisfactory impression, a fourth plate had to be added, bearing black lines.


Enschede Printing office founded in Haarlem by Izaac Enschede


Baskerville, John (1775), Typefounder and printer in Birmingham.


Franklin, Benjamin, d.1790, printer, publisher, statesman


Copyright Act in England


Baine, John (1790). Edinburgh typefounder


Utrecht Psalter donated to the Utrecht University Library by Willem de Ridder, an official of the States of Utrecht.


Horace Walpole (1717-1797), author of thousands of diverting letters.


Ibarra, Joaquim, d.1785, printer in Madrid, court printer to Carlos III


Austria. Imperial Library (now National Library) building built by J.B.Fischer


Chodowiecki, Daniel Nikolaus, d.1801. German artis-engraver.


Didot, Francois-Ambroise, d.1804, oldest of Didot family, famous French printing family


Jackson, Joseph, d.1792, London typecutter and founder


Aquatint invented by Jean-Baptiste Le Prince (1734-1784). François Janinet (1752-1813) was the first to employ it for colour prints, by using several plates. Francisco Goya made great use of it, often combining it with line engraving, etching and also drypoint. In more recent times it has been one of the favourite techniques of Georges Rouault (1871-1958) and Pablo Picasso.


Walter, John, d.1812, founder of newspaper The Times, 1785/1788


Engelmann, Gottfried, d.1839, lithograph printer, inventor of chromolythography in 1836


Walter, John, d.1812, founder of newspaper The Times, 1785/1788


Bodoni, Giambatista,d.1813. Italian printer and punchcutter.


Johnson's Dictionary, made in England, between 1746 and 1773


British Library. The national library of Britain came into being in 1753 when parliament decided to purchase the collection of books and manuscripts that had been left by Hans Sloane. A few years later George II presented the Royal library


Bewick, Thomas (d. 1828)


Edwards of Halifax binding firm founded by William Edwards of Yorkshire


Egerton, Francis Henry, d. 1829, bibliophile who donated a collection of 67 manuscripts to the British Museum


Bohn, Johann,d.1843. German binder, noted for his gilded doublures, and paper marbling


Blake, William, d.1827. English artist-illustrator, illustrated Milton and Dante editions.


Bohn, Johann,d.1843. German binder, noted for his gilded doublures, and paper marbling


Silvestre de Sacy (1758-1838), sensible and analytical scholar, a brilliant man who served from 1833 to his death as keeper of Oriental manuscripts at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.


Balston, William (1849). English papermaker


Pop-up. Robert Sayer of London produces childrens' metamorphosis, the Harliquinades.


Niepce, Joseph Nicephore, d. 1833, inventor of photography (1822)


Traite de la Gravure en Bois by Jean Michel Papillon


Darlington Press, private press, established at The Grange by George Allen


Chatterton, Thomas. (1752-1770). English poet, known for his literary frauds distinguished by poetic genius. He wrote a number of poems that he pretended were the work of one Thomas Rowley, a non-existent monk of the 15th century.


Whatman paper, English hand-made wove paper first made by James Whatman at Maidstone


Ballantyne, James (d.1833). Publisher of Sir Walter Scott


König, Friedrich, d.1833. Inventor of the cylinder press


Dickinson, John, d.1869, inventor of the cylinder printing machine


Oldest German used book business founded by Joseph Baer of Frankfurt


Times. Foundation of Daily Universal Register, from 1788 to be called The Times.


Daguerre, Louis Jacq. Mande, d.1851, worked together with the inventor of photography, Niepce (d.1833) and developed daguerreotype process


Bewick: A General history of Quadrupeds


Bewick's History of Quadrupeds


Annales Typographici ab artis inventae origine ad annum MD by Georg Panzer


Spilsbury's 'The Art of Etching and Aqua Tinting' published


Lithography experiments by Senefelder


Senefelder starts experimenting printing from stone


Bewick: History of British Birds Vol.I


The best kind of limestone is Bavarian. Light coloured and perfectly smooth, it is porous and absorbs both water and greasy substances equally well. The stone used is about six inches thick and is fairly big, up to 90x65 cm (35x25 inches), and can weigh up to 150 or 175 pounds. The stone is ground smooth. The drawing is made on it with a greasy lithographic pencil or crayon, and then fixed by rinsing the stone with a very weak solution of nitric acid and gum arabic. The stone is wiped with water before each impression is taken and, for each print, it is inked by means of a leather-covered roller. During this operation, the porous limestone retains the grease of the crayon where the drawing has been made, and the parts which are not drawn upon become impregnated with water. The ink, which is greasy, is repelled by the water-wet areas and adheres only to the areas marked by the crayon. See also: Senefelder.


Lithography invented by Senefelder


The'Rosetta' stone is discovered. It contains the same text in Egyptian hieroglyphic, Egyptian demotic, and Greek writing. It was discovered in 1799 near the mouth of the Nile and served to break the code for deciphering ancient Egyptian works.


Lambinet, Pierre, published his Recherches Historiques sur l'Origine de l'Imprimerie at Brussels


Lenox, James, d.1880, American bookcollector, first to import 42-lines Gutenberg into the USA


Congress. Library of Congress Washington founded


Baxter, George (d. 1867). Patented letterpress process for color printing


John Gould (1804-1881), British ornithologist and artist.


Baxter, George (d. 1867). Patented letterpress process for color printing


Bewick: History of British Birds Vol II


Laurenziana. The Laurenziana and Marciana libraries of the Medici's combined in Flrence now forming the Biblioteca Mediceco-Laurenziana


Xavier Marmier (1809-1892), a member of the Académie Française, bequeathed his books to the public library in Pontarlier. In memory of the happy moments passed among the book stall keepers on the quays of the Left Bank he left them the sum of 1,000 francs..


Thomas Frognell Dibdin (1776-1847) published 1809: THE BIBLIOMANIA; or, Book-Madness; containing some account of the History, Symptoms, and Cure of this Fatal Disease.


Brunet's Manuel du Libraire et de l'amateur de livres published.


Chiswick Press founded.


Cylinder Press, First built in Britain by Friedrich Konig


Graesse, Johann, d.1885, wrote Tresor de Livres rares et precieux