Studying texts involves examining the way books look and feel, how pages are designed and laid out, the arrangement of the text, collation of pages, and many other aspects, including book plates, signatures, and provenance. Now and again, researchers stumble upon books that look authentic but aren’t. These cleverly created forgeries force librarians and scholars to scratch their heads and examine very carefully all the clues embedded in the book. The same is true for works of art that are later deemed forgeries.
This week, two articles crossed my desk that deal with forgeries. The first is Galileo’s Sidereus which a professor at Georgia State University studied and determined was a forgery. http://homer.gsu.edu/blogs/library/2012/09/26/gsu-faculty-member-uncovers-fake-book-sold-by-corrupt-library-director/ A longer article was published in the New Yorker (Dec 16, 2013) http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/12/16/131216fa_fact_schmidle [Note, KSU provides access to the article through their catalog.] The scholars worked with Owen Gingrich, author of The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus who studied most copies of Copernicus’ work, examining marginalia. In the case of this Galileo forgery, they looked at library property marks, bibliographies, and other textual clues.
The second article is about the Oath of the Freedman. There’s a short article about the forgery here: