Adrian Weiss

Adrian Weiss

Adrian Weiss

The career of Dr. Adrian Weiss (Retired) has focused on illuminating the pivotal importance of typographical evidence in bibliographical analysis in regard to various fundamental aspects of the book production process in early modern England 1540-1640 such as: the identification of printers and their work both in books bearing their imprint and in unclaimed sections of books whose printing was shared among two or more printers; the order and method of setting and printing a text; the compositorial divisions of labor; irregularities in the printing process and their potential significance relative to the state of the text (corruptions, modifications, revisions etc.); the dating of the position of a book in a sequence of books through the press(es) of a shop during a given period; and jobs involving printing from standing type, as well as other issues which could impact the accuracy of the textual transmission process. (Weiss’s research was supported by two Senior Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and travel grants from the NEH, The Andrew W. Mellon Fund, and the Bush Foundation.) Under Fredson Bowers’ guidance and encouragement, Weiss began with an illustration of the virtual uselessness of reproductions as a source of conclusive typographical evidence consisting of specific uniquely damaged types (examined at high magnification), a discussion of the design characteristics of different typefaces, and an introduction to a method of font analysis that charts, in a font composite, the distinguishing features of a font that result from the mixing of letters from two fonts in different faces (i.e., italic, roman; Haultin, Guyot) either intentionally (“replenishment”, or replacing damaged or worn types) or unintentionally (“fouling”, or accidentally distributing types into the wrong typecases). Such a composite provides conclusive evidence of printer identity (“Reproductions of Early Dramatic Texts as a Source of Bibliographical evidence,” TEXT: Transactions of the Society for Textual Scholarship 4 (1988), 237-268).

In “Font Analysis as a Bibliographical Method: The Elizabethan Play-Quarto Printers and Compositors” (Studies in Bibliography, [43] 1990, 95-164), Weiss elaborated on the specific design features which differentiate the various typefaces in the pica size which were almost universally employed in the play-quartos of Middleton’s day. He developed the concept of the “foul case cluster”, or group of resident and/or transient wrong-face letters in a typefont which by virtue of their appearance together in random recurrences create an identifying characteristic of the font. Various factors could result in the growth or diminution in the number of members of a foul-case cluster and thereby provide dating evidence as well as demonstrate printer identity. Working from Peter W.M. Blayney’s demonstration that the printing of many books was shared among two or more printers, Weiss next described the methods and kinds of evidence that were useful in detecting and resolving shared printing issues in “Bibliographical Methods for Identifying Unknown Printers in Elizabethan/Jacobean Books” (Studies in Bibliography, [44] 1991, 183-228). In “Shared Printing, Printer’s Copy, and the Text(s) of Gascoigne’s A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres” (Studies in Bibliography, [45] 1992, 71-104), Weiss resolved long-standing cruxes about the temporal sequence of the printing and the evolution of Gascoigne’s multisection text by identifying a sharing printer and his section, reconstructing the schedule of books through Henry Bynneman’s shop in the relevant period, tracing the temporal transformations of the fonts used, and employing other kinds of typographical and paper evidence. Coincidentally, this article was the last of his that was edited by Fredson Bowers (1905-1991), whose first substantial scholarly paper was also about A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres. Weiss’s career peaked and his connection to Bowers formalized in 1993 when The Society for Textual Scholarship awarded Weiss the first biennial “Fredson Bowers Memorial Prize” for a “Distinguished Essay on Textual Scholarship” in recognition of both the 1991 and 1992 papers.

Middleton Publications
Most of Weiss’s Middleton research as Bibliographical Consultant, Associate General Editor, and contributing Editor appears for the first time in the two volumes of The Collected Works both directly in his edition of The Ant and the Nightingale and his contribution to the companion volume (“Casting Compositors, Foul Cases, and Skeletons: Printing in Middleton’s Age”), and silently in the Textual Introductions in regard to matters of printer identity and various other aspects of the contemporary printings of Middleton’s works. In “A ‘Fill-In’ Job: The Textual Crux and Interrupted Printing in Thomas Middleton’sThe Triumph of Honor and Vertue (1622)” (Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, [93] 1999, 53-73), the necessity for recognizing that more than one job was simultaneously in production in a shop was confirmed by Weiss’s demonstration that Middleton’s masque was a low-priority job produced in discontinuous intervals when it could be fitted into the work schedule of a high-priority job. A full-scale analysis of A Game at Chess to demonstrate the identity of the three London printers and their sections of the three editions of 1625 is being prepared for future publication.