A 17th-century revolution

Sutton Nicholls "The Compleat Auctioner etching" – The Trustees of the British Museum

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A series of three lectures by Professor David McKitterick

The printing revolution in 15th-century Europe brought unprecedented quantities of books into the world. It quickly became clear that some selection was necessary if readers were not to drown in a sea of paper. But how to select? What was worth keeping, and what could be ignored? Different groups of people had different ideas, whether based on religious, political or other principles. In a series of lectures, Professor David McKitterick considers how some kinds of books became marked out as being curious in some sense, and as rarities. The criteria established in the 16th century gradually developed into our ideas today of rare book collections, and rare book libraries.

This first lecture looks at the beginnings of an idea. How were different copies of books to be compared? How could rarity be established? How far was rarity to be equalled with a scale of financial values? By the end of the 17th century, the foundations were in place for a newly organised world of trade and collecting.  

The lectures are not ticketed and seats will be allocated on the night on a first come, first served basis. 


Name: A 17th-century revolution
Where: Conference Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
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