In “A Friendly Gathering: The Social Politics of Presentation Books and their Extra-Illustration in Horace Walpole’s Circle,” Lucy Peltz plays with the technical and metaphorical senses of “gathering” to reflect on the materiality and sociability of altered books in the Strawberry Hill set. The practice of extra-illustration consisted in unbinding the book, cutting loose the gatherings of leaves that make up its quires, in order to interleave them with additional pages, or to inlay each page into windows cut through larger sized paper. The process is captured in Walpole’s correspondence: “Mr Bull is honouring me, at least my Anecdotes of Painting, exceedingly. He has let every page into a pompous sheet, and is adding every print of portrait, building, etc., that I mention and that he can get, and specimens of all our engravers. It will make eight magnificent folios, and be a most valuable body of our arts.” Specimens collected and collated with the text anchor, document, and illustrate the words on the page. As a result, an identical multiple in a print run was turned into a unique object. Through the art of extraillustration, the extra-illustrator Richard Bull “erected for himself a monument of taste.” In its monumentalizing aims and dimensions, extra-illustration could be considered an antidote against ephemera, yet transience is inherent in its attempt to document the text with reproductions that might be dispersed. The concept runs the gamut, from Walpole’s paratexts—his title Fugitive Pieces in Verse and Prose (1758), which he presents as “trifles” and “idlenesses”—to his supposedly “diminutive” house, which he called “a paper Fabric and an assemblage of curious Trifles, made by an insignificant Man.” In this essay, I will read the practice of extra-illustration against the grain to recuperate the ephemeral side of “the pompous sheet,” the composite object unbound from its gatherings, and alternative forms of the page as a detached piece, a scrap, a caption appended to objects in the house. I will focus my discussion on two complementary book collections produced by Richard Bull: his extra-illustrated copy of Walpole’s Description of Strawberry Hill, now at the Lewis Walpole Library, and his curious compilation of occasional publications bound with the title-page A Collection of the Loose Pieces printed at Strawberry-Hill, and the alternative title Detached Pieces Printed at Strawberry Hill, now at the Huntington Library.
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Research Article| April 01 2020
Luisa Calè; Extra-Illustration and Ephemera: Altered Books and the Alternative Forms of the Fugitive Page. Eighteenth-Century Life 1 April 2020; 44 (2): 111–135. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00982601-8218624
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