Marks in Books

Curated by Pablo Alvarez


In this exhibit, the term "marks" refers to physical elements that have been added to manuscripts and early printed books throughout time, that is, from the instance when they were being made until they arrived to our shelves. Mostly, these marks were not intended by the authors, scribes and printers as they originally envisioned their books, but were later included in the form of corrections, readers' marginalia, drawings, and traces of subsequent ownerships as shown in bookplates and bindings. These marks are extraordinary witnesses offering unique information on various aspects of book history such as production, textual transmission, reception, and provenance history. While this exhibit is based on a close examination of manuscripts and early printed books held at the Special Collections Research Center, its main inspiration is the landmark exhibit catalog, Marks in Books, Illustrated and Explained (Cambridge, Mass.: Houghton Library Publications, 1985) by Roger Stoddard.