The Origins of Scottish Copperplate Engraving (Musical and Otherwise)

A guest post I wrote for the wonderful “Claimed from Stationer’s Hall” project. If you don’t already know about Karen McAulay’s fantastic work, take a look at: https://claimedfromstationershall.wordpress.com/ .

Claimed From Stationers' Hall (and new Research into Glasgow music publishers)

It is with great pleasure that we share our second guest blogpost, this time by Dr Kelsey Jackson Williams, Lecturer in Early Modern Literature at the University of Stirling, and Printer, The Pathfoot Press.  If you’ve ever wondered what the process of music engraving actually entails, then your questions are about to be answered here.

One of the vast treasure trove of musical scores which falls within the remit of the Claimed from Stationers’ Hall project is the imposingly named A Collection of the Ancient Martial Music of Caledonia, called Piobaireachd as performed on the Great Highland Bagpipe. Now also adapted to the Piano Forte Violin and Violoncello. With a few old Highland lilts purposely set for the above modern instruments. To which is prefixed a complete tutor for attaining a thorough knowledge of the pipe music, compiled by the Skye native and prominent bagpipe-maker Dòmhnall MacDhòmhnaill (1766/7-1840) and published in…

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The Pathfoot Press: Six Months In

When I came to my job interview at Stirling, I was full of big ideas, not all of them very practical.  One particularly far-fetched scheme I had was to propose developing a bibliography course at postgraduate level and equipping a print room for use by the students.  I laid this out in my job talk, emphasising the expense and long-term nature of the project, while also saying that I thought it had the potential to be a tremendous asset.  In the questions that followed someone – I can no longer remember who – piped up and said, “you know, I think we might have one of these hand press things somewhere”.  Twenty minutes later, thoroughly convinced I hadn’t gotten the job, one of the senior administrators was showing me into an out-of-the-way computer lab.  There, squeezed into the far end of the room, was a Columbian Press, an absolute beauty, surrounded by type cases, cabinets, ink stones, and even an Adana 8×5 to boot.

Pathfoot Press by KWW

Our Columbian Press (watercolour by Kenneth Williams).

And so one thing led to another.  I got the job (most surprising of all), I met Sarah Bromage – one of the curators of Stirling’s fantastic art collection – who also had plans for the press, we had a workshop or two, I pulled together what I could remember of my letterpress printing skills, and in March 2017 the newly-founded Pathfoot Press produced its first work: a large bifolium of Scots poetry celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the university.

Printing 2

Our first pamphlet locked up and ready to roll, March 2017.

To find myself suddenly the head printer and designer of a university hand press was unexpected enough.  What I couldn’t have expected even six months ago, though, was just how much and how quickly the press and its activities would snowball.  As the only folk involved with the press who had prior letterpress experience, The Historian and I led the way on the publication front, squeezing in odd hours, evenings, and weekends to produce five broadsides and pamphlets to date, but we were hardly alone.  Together, the two of us and Sarah have given printing displays and practical sessions to the public, been filmed for university promotional purposes, printed limited edition broadsides of poetry written by Stirling’s Charles Wallace Fellow, been commissioned to do a series of typographical facsimiles by Innerpeffray Library, and even found ourselves with our very own intern busy cataloguing and organising our chaotic printshop.

In the Prayse of Writing Small

A seventeenth-century encomium on writing, June 2017.  Copies of this broadside can be purchased from the Innerpeffray Library!

What I had originally imagined as a tool for training future bibliographers has taken on a life of its own, sweeping me along with it, and I have to say that I’m tremendously pleased by everything that’s happened.  As a new and busy semester looms its head (our teaching starts on Monday), it’s proving difficult to give as much time as I’d like to the press, but we already have plans in place to continue growing its staff, its productions, and its reach.  If you haven’t come across the Pathfoot Press as yet, visitors are always very welcome or you can follow us on Twitter @PathfootPress.  At this rate, who can say what we’ll be printing and designing in another six month’s time?

Copyright © 2017 Kelsey Jackson Williams

Future of Early Modern Scottish Studies Programme Announced

jamesone-self-portrait

It’s a real pleasure to finally be able to announce the fantastic line-up we have in store for us at January’s conference on the Future of Early Modern Scottish Studies.  You can find the full programme here, but suffice it to say that there will be everything from globalisation studies to book history and from islands to escaped slaves, not to mention some of the best minds in the field all in one place.

We’re in the midst of setting up online conference registration as I write this, so stay tuned!

Copyright © 2016 Kelsey Jackson Williams