Tuesday, July 25, 2006

New Article on Hedges

Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Tom Avril has published an article on the new method of dating rare prints and engravings offered by Penn State biology professor Blair Hedges (my original post on the subject is here, with Terry Belanger's followup criticism here). Avril discusses the response to Hedges from within the rare book community (including Belanger's critique) and offers Hedges' rather glib response to it: "I would feel the same way if somebody from their area came into mine."

Avril does a good job of summarizing Hedges' method, and offers some interesting insights into his methodology as well:

"Printing pressure had no impact on copper plates, he says. Immense pressure would have made the grooves wider, not narrower. To prove this point, Hedges bought a new copper plate and engraved some lines in it. Then he covered it with a steel plate and drove over it with his SUV. No change in the engraved lines. Finally, he pounded the plates with a sledgehammer, exerting considerably more pressure than what would come from a printing press. Sure enough, the lines got wider, not thinner."

The article concludes by noting that Hedges is now working his method on the undated fourth quarto edition of "Hamlet." I hope that doesn't include running it over with his car.