Monday, July 03, 2006

Salacious advertisements

From the printer's advertisements to A New Way of Breeding Canary Birds. Without the Trouble, that is in the Common Way of Breeding. And, Will Breed As Many Canary Birds Again, as the Common Way of Breeding does (London: J. Hughs, 1742):


  1. Jenny, where are you finding all these incredible old books for your book?

  2. It used to be I would get them at the British Library--I'd go to visit my aged grandmother two or three times a year and during the day would do INTENSIVE BL book- and pamphlet reading, they then had a 15-item-a-day limit (since reduced to 10, which is not good for foreign visitors AT ALL) and I would request things in advance and then read like a MANIAC. It's the only times I ever didn't read in the evenings, my eyes and brain having absorbed the maximum already during the day. But since she died, I have fallen back on the quite wonderful (although it's not as good as a real library, physical books are much easier to deal with) ECCO--Eighteenth-Century Collections Online. It's done by Gale, and they basically converted the old microfilms (which were themselves based on the English Short-Title Catalog) into PDF files, and you can get pretty much EVERY book printed in English up to 1800 (the pre-1700 ones are in EEBO, Early English Books Online) at home on your computer in the middle of the night. I find I have to print out the ones I really want to read, which is a great waste of paper; those 18th-century books were so beautifully printed, often really with only one paragraph on the page, it makes them easy on the eyes but not so good in terms of paper use....

    As you can see I am an enthusiast! But seriously, ECCO has transformed the way eighteenth-century studies will be done by the current generation of grad students; one downside is that it further skews things towards English-language texts, since (to take the most obvious example) there is not the same wealthy-American-university-driven incentive to convert French books to digital format. And the subscription is very expensive, lots of libraries couldn't afford it. So it is not idyllic. But very personally lovely for me....