Publishing students visit the Oxford University Press Museum
Students from the MAs in Publishing in the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies recently visited Oxford University Press's Museum.
Marina Debattista, MA student, reports on the visit:
'The Oxford University Press Museum - consisting of a large, circular hall - creates the illusion that its history is also circular. The online version of the Oxford English Dictionary - the last item in the museum, placed close to the exit - coincides, at least symbolically, with the very first one, the book published in 1478. The opposites meet here, only to remind us that the electronic medium is not necessarily the negation of the printed medium.
'The circularity of the hall creates another illusion, namely that the history of the press unfolds smoothly from 1476, the year when the first printing press was established in England to our days, when OUP is mainly known as the largest university press in the world.
'The museum's secret treasure - and the item that is most likely to make visitors gasp - is small enough to be hold in one's hands. It is beautiful in itself, but more importantly, it witnesses the association of this eminently academic press with an Oxford don who never grew out of childhood - Lewis Carroll. The opposites meet again. The very first edition of Alice in Wonderland was published by OUP, though for the subsequent ones Carroll employed Macmillan & Co.
'The treasured item is a small metal plate - the novelty being that the letters are not set in the usual linear manner, but undulate on a beautiful curve typographically depicting BOTH the mouse's tail and his long and sad tale. This piece of craftsmanship was the innovative response of the press to Carroll's innovative demands for a typographically new arrangement of words. Carroll was so concerned about the visual effects of the mouse's tail that he asked OUP to craft the plate displayed in the museum , as he had not been satisfied by the arrangement of the words obtained by Macmillan and Co.'