Uncut Pages and Antique Microscope Books

Microscopy has been around long enough to build up a colorful and vibrant history, the new works produced every year is poor excuse for neglecting the past. -K

The present condition of publishing is such that I will always recommend one starting out with the microscope look to the past for their first text. Modern works have a distinct tendancy to be disapointingly basic or profroundly technical. In the latter case far too expensive for someone trying the hobby on for size-a fault of a great many textbooks. At the turn of the century microscopy as a hobby (and potential future career) was in a sort of golden age as far as publishing went. So much so that today a fair few professionals remember fondly the works for people like Philip Henry Gosse and Thomas Davies.

When buying a work that was as widely available as-for example-Gosse’s Evenings at the Microscope, the most economical option is as often as not a book that may well be far older than the purchaser is used too. Old books are quite unlike those of today, just ask an enthusiast. In any case if one happens to purchase an antique microscopy text one may encounter something odd; uncut pages. The uncut page is a not infrequently found in antiquarian books and together with ragged edges is not anything one should be overly concerned with. In the copy of Evenings at the Microscope shown below a great many pages are uncut, and we may well reason that this book, published in 1902, has never been read.

An example of uncut pages.

An example of uncut pages.

In order to make use of the book the uncut pages will need to be opened by cutting through them at the crease. If this was 1902 and the book were new one might simply pull out ones pen-knife whenever necessary and carry on reading. Today the paper is apt to have been somewhat oxidized and the risk of errant cuts thereby somewhat increased so that greater care is required. For my part I prefer to use a sharp (but not recently honed) straight-razor style section cutter, it works nicely and seems rather fitting. Whatever knife is used when cutting keep the blade only slightly off from parallel with the crease and make a small sawing motion rather than a slice to minimize the risk of damage to the pages.

The community of antiquarian book enthusiasts is somewhat at odds as to whether cutting the pages affects the value of a book, but for the most part the value of the microscopy texts one encounters that have uncut pages is likely to be small in any case. So should one encounter a book with uncut pages when reading up on things microscopic, by all means open those pages and show them the light of day! I am the first to see this precise illustration of a Perophora in 112 years!

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One thought on “Uncut Pages and Antique Microscope Books

  1. Pingback: Uncut pages | Making Book

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