Throughout the eighteenth century, the oblong octavo format had a specific variety of uses. Held horizontally, oblong books were almost exclusively used for printed and manuscript music, and printed music books frequently contain manuscript additions by amateur musicians, as well as non‐music additions. Held vertically, oblong books were used by sermon auditors, students, notetakers, and businessmen and women for their receipts. In this article, I examine the changing print and manuscript uses of the oblong book over the eighteenth century. I look at the stationers who sold oblong blank books in the context of their wider blank book offerings; the publishers and booksellers who used the oblong format for printed books and who accounted for manuscript use by those who purchased the volumes; and the everyday practice of the musicians, business owners, and students who used them. Ultimately, this article suggests that studying book format requires not only the skills of traditional bibliography, but also research into the practical use of books.
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Research Article| January 01 2024
Ashley Cataldo; Before the Reporter's Notebook: The Oblong Book in the Long Eighteenth Century. Eighteenth-Century Life 1 January 2024; 48 (1): 134–158. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00982601-10951362
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