Bibliographical Society

Two New Publications by G. Thomas Tanselle: Descriptive Bibliography and A Sample Bibliographical Description

 

G. Thomas Tanselle’s Descriptive Bibliography offers a comprehensive guide to the activity of describing books as physical objects. Through bibliographical investigation we observe the materials and analyze the skills employed by printers in their daily activities. We learn something of the publishing contexts from the design elements in books. Every physical detail of a book contributes to our understanding of how its text came to be what it is. Descriptive Bibliography is not just a guide to the identification of first editions (though it serves that purpose) but is rather a history of the production and publication of the books taken up and thus a major contribution to the broader annals of printing, publishing, textual criticism, and human history and culture.

The first part of this book contains five essays on general topics, including an introduction to the field and its history, its relation to library cataloging, and a rethinking of the meanings of ideal copy, issue, and state.  The second part covers more specific subjects: transcription and collation, format, paper, typography and layout, typesetting and presswork, non-letterpress material, publishers’ bindings, and overall arrangement.  The volume concludes with a sample description and detailed commentary and with a record of the literature of descriptive bibliography.

Descriptive Bibliography is a replacement for as well as a companion to Fredson Bowers’s Principles of Bibliographical Description and serves as an indispensable guide to the study of one of the largest and most important classes of artifacts from the human past.

This book offers a comprehensive guide to the activity of describing books as physical objects. An understanding of how books were made and circulated and what they looked like is a major component in our sense of the human past.

For the complete Table of Contents of Descriptive Bibliography, click here.

To order a copy of this work from Oak Knoll Books, click here.

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The useful appendix of this volume has been reprinted as

A Sample Bibliographical Description with Commentary

This pamphlet is a convenient guide for students of descriptive bibliography and for those who write and read descriptive bibliographies. It contains definitions of basic terms, examples of descriptive paragraphs, an extended sample description, and a detailed commentary that offers practical advice and the rationale for each element of the account.  Frequent cross-references to Descriptive Bibliography identify fuller discussions of points in the sample description.

To order a copy of this work from Oak Knoll Books, click here.