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Newberry Librarian Stanley Pargellis in the stacks, ca. 1959.

Newberry Librarian Stanley Pargellis in the stacks, ca. 1959.

The official Newberry blog investigating the library’s collection and highlighting the users and staff who help bring it to life every day.

Binding the "Bad Quarto"

In our Creating Shakespeare exhibition, the earliest printed version of Hamlet is on display just a few feet from one of the newest versions. Printed in 1603, the earliest edition is known as the "Bad Quarto," because of how it diverges from the authoritative text that many people are familiar with today. For example, Hamlet's famous soliloquy begins, "To be or not to be, I there's the point" (rather than "that is the question").

In 2015, the Virginia Arts of the Book Center created an artist's book based on facsimile pages from the "Bad Quarto." The Newberry, in turn, commissioned the Chicago-area bookbinder Sam Feinstein to produce a custom binding for a copy of the artist's book. His binding, made from goatskin, is infused with symbolism: the horizontal and vertical lines represent different iterations of the play and the palladium and gold curvature are an abstract allusion to a prince's crown.

Below, Feinstein and Creating Shakespeare curator Jill Gage discuss the inspiration for the binding.

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