Exceptionally The Brussels Bookswappers club will hold its January meeting on the last Wednesday of the month – January 28th. Thereafter, our Bookswaps will continue, as in previous years, to take place on the THIRD Wednesday of the month (with the exception of Xmas & occasionally if there is a clash with a major Bank Holiday…) I had hoped to kick off the new year on the 21st but we are still waiting for our new bookshelves & the restaurant staff are working flat out at the Salon de l’Auto until the 23rd. So it makes sense to wait. See you on the 28th – doors open as of 18h30 and since we won’t need to trug heavy boxes upstairs any more we can stay open for the business of swapping books much later than in the past! So come & make an evening of it, join the regulars downstairs for a drink or bite to eat afterwards!
As I was trawling the web to see if anything significant had happened in world history on January 28th in connection with literature. I learnt that « Pride & Prejudice » by Jane Austen was first published in England in 1813 and a year later French author, Stendhal, published his first book « The Charterhouse of Parma ».
January 28 1706 also saw the birth of John Baskerville, the English inventor of ‘hot press printing’ whose hot copper plates & special black ink gave a hitherto unimaginable, even gloss to the printed page. Baskerville was a perfectionist & achieved great innovations in printing, paper & ink production & pioneered the so-called Baskerville typeface in 1757 (used here in his honour on my PC) to improve legibility. Its inventor refined the Caslon* typeset by introducing greater contrasts of thick & thin strokes with sharper & more rounded strokes. The familiar 20th Century idiom « hot off the press or presses » would never have been coined had it not been for inventors like John Baskerville. And I learnt something else:– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was inspired by this 18th century gentleman to name one of his most famous Sherlock Home mysteries after him « The Hound of the Baskervilles » and Umberto Eco in the creation of his character William de Baskerville, in « The Name of the Rose ».
*Caslon is a group of serif typefaces designed by William Caslon (1692–1766) his earliest design from 1722 is thought to be the first original typeface of English origin although he borrowed a lot from Dutch type cut by Voskens & Van Dyck. In typography, a serif is a small line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or symbol, such as when handwriting is separated into distinct units for a typewriter or typesetter