It’s been a while since the last update on the “Receipts Project,” and so I thought I’d share a quick summary of what we’re up to with these strange scraps of paper, which throw up the most unexpected of challenges despite their modest size. As the receipts are scheduled for publication early next year, we’re currently at the stage of proofing and revision, and trying to deal with the following issues:

  1. We are in possession of Blake’s receipts from 22 January 1806 to 18 May 1829. However, there are significant omissions – 5 July 1805, 19 June 1809, and 11 September 1818. Since the receipts are bunched together in terms of provenance and current location and each individual receipt is by itself a very small BAD, we decided to collect and publish them in a single BAD for the purpose of convenience. This creates problems in ordering and arrangement, especially since the compiled “Receipts BAD” is different from any other BAD in that there is no natural order or sequence beyond date of composition that the objects can be arranged in. Compiling these assorted documents in a single BAD, while improving convenience, involves us in questions of structure, order, and relations between objects that would require extensive discussion, deliberation, and possible disagreement before we’re completely through with the issue.
  • The current structure of the encoding schema of the BAD does not allow the listing of multiple repositories and provenances, so we’ve listed them by <provenance n=”x”> in the following manner:

  • In addition (as the green comment above notes), the provenance information in the appendix to Bentley’s Blake Books  is relatively uninformative compared to the usual amount of detail the Archive provides. So, we’re currently looking for other catalogues and publications, like the Catalogue of the Preston Blake Library published by Westminster City Libraries as well as other similar resources to compile an extensive provenance entry.
  • Some of the receipts are partially written in someone else’s hand (Thomas Butts, Catherine Blake, Frederick Tatham) and the process of listing this information in the header becomes complicated if the header refers to all the receipts at once rather than each one individually.

    For Mr Blake Frederick Tatham

  • What happens with new receipts acquisitions, especially that of the ones we’re currently missing? We would have to publish them in a separate assortment with receipts from other locations and that would result in a kind of haphazard arrangement and we’re not sure if that would be an acceptable solution.

In light of all this, we’re not completely sure about whether we’ll continue with the compiled BAD or publish the receipts in individual BADs. Following the recent publication of Blake’s Pencil Sketches (1779-1790), that may not be an entirely unprecedented solution in the case of assorted material. In addition to preparing the receipts for publication, we have been using them as a kind of introduction to working at the Blake Archive.  Using the process of proofreading as a pedagogical method, new members of BAND this year – Meaghan Green, Marcie Woehl, and Kendall DeBoer are on their way to becoming experts on working with Blake’s hand, notes, spacing, and the rest of our strange and mysterious ways. I believe that’s working out quite nicely for everyone, and I’m sure they’ll write their own blog post about that sooner or later!