Books and Printing and Mormons. Part 4.

I don’t want to jump into Mormon printing just yet. It’s a large subject with many interesting aspects. Here I want to mention how some of what I’ve covered so far applies to Mormon works and collections. The terms “recto,” “verso,” “leaf,” “page,” and “folio” are usually appropriated to manuscripts in a way analogous to their use in defining parts of a book.

The Latter-day Saints were big on record-keeping nearly from the start. Joseph Smith was not a writer himself to speak of, but he did recruit others who wrote down his revelations, his journals, his history, and proceedings of church meetings. Some of this matter he dictated, some of it was pieced together by others and attached to him.

Some of these records were kept on loose sheets (not the printing sheets already mentioned) of foolscap folio (here’s another use of the word folio in regard to size) or in books with blank, lined, leaves. There are variants here. At times codices were created by pinning relevant manuscript leaves together with straight pins. Loose pages might be sewn together. Here’s an example (observe that leaves were pinned and unpinned several times):

This the verso of the first page of a short impromptu codex

This is the verso of the first leaf of a short ephemeral codex

Notice that on the upper right corner of the image there are pin holes indicating that this leaf was once attached to others forming a kind of unbound codex. This manuscript “book” begins with the other side of this leaf, the recto side. This impromptu codex has no folios and this is the only verso side that contains writing. In this case, the writing is self-identified: John Grant Lynch copied this bit from the Nauvoo Times and Seasons, sometime in 1855. (Lynch was an Irish convert and emigrated to Utah with his mother and two brothers in 1855. He became a court clerk in 1856 and died in 1860.)

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