14 Apr 2021
March 6, 2013 - Filed under: Antique Bookcases — David

One way to add character to a house in Lancashire is with an antique bookcase – preferably one stocked with venerable academic tomes; books rather like those in the Tarlton Library at the UT School of Law.

Tarlton’s open bookcases may not be antique, but the contents certainly are. The campus library of the University of Texas law school at Austin, Tarlton is home to some of the world’s rarest and oldest printed books. Another impressive collection is held at the Bridwell Library of the SMU (Southern Methodist University, a private theological campus), overseen by curator Eric White, who recently visited Tarlton to give a lecture exploring the history of printing, and its relationship with some of the rare antique volumes stored in the library.

White began with an overview of early mechanised printing, and of the famous printing press invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-1400s, which was the first example of movable type in Europe. His lecture focussed on the history, typefaces and other aspects of 15th century printed books – in particular, early 15th century law books – calling attention to several tomes in the library’s rare books collection that offer plenty of scope for renaissance law historians.

The lecture was arranged by the Director of Special Collections at Tarlton, who said:

“The early history of the printed book is integral to understanding the intellectual history of the early modern period. Books produced with movable type constituted a genuine communication revolution.”

It is interesting that many of the open bookcases that Preston antiques dealers sell today owe their existence to a certain 15th century blacksmith from Germany.

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