The Scientific Woodblock to 1800

With Caroline Duroselle-Melish, I will be giving a Zoom presentation for Rare Book School on Woodblocks on Thursday 19 November 2020 at 12 noon ET/ 5pm GMT. You can sign up here and below is the Rare Book School announcement.

A 40-minute presentation followed by 30 minutes of Q&A scheduled for Thursday, 19 November 2020, 12–1:10 p.m. ET, via Zoom.

Owing to Zoom’s restrictions, this event is limited to the first 300 people who register. The event will be recorded and made available for viewing on the RBS YouTube channel.

In this presentation Roger Gaskell and Caroline Duroselle-Melish will consider not so much the woodcut—that is the impression on the paper—but the woodblock, the printing matrix. Who made woodblocks? How were they made? And how were they combined with type to print the book? The presenters will discuss three collections of surviving blocks: the blocks cut for Ulisse Aldrovandi in Bologna; the botanical blocks assembled from various sources at the Plantin Press in Antwerp as a resource for printing books by different authors and in different countries; and the mathematical diagram blocks cut for Sir Isaac Newton in London and printed in Cambridge. These examples will be used to illustrate the relationships among authors, printmakers, and publishers, the proofreading and correction of blocks, and woodblocks as embodied knowledge.

Everyone is welcome to attend. To ensure the security of the event, advance registration is required; to register, click hereRegistration closes at 8 a.m. ET the day of the event.

Your registration will be automatically accepted. You will receive an email reminder the day before the event. The day of the event, we will send you the Zoom URL and password. Please direct any questions to RBS Programs at

Follow the conversation on social media using hashtags #RBSOnline and #RBSwoodblock.