Working on Blake’s receipts has given many of us the occasion to think of small and easy-to-miss problems. Alison’s post about the stamps, demonstrating her detailed observation of their variations and intricacies, is a perfect example. The receipts are a fascinating place for speculation about the fluctuations of Blake’s income as well as a constant source of surprising relief about his consistently neat and legible writing. In this post I thought I’d make a note of an interesting irregularity that I’ve encountered in all the receipts I’ve transcribed: Blake’s placement of the period. When writing “Mr.”, Blake often places the period or a colon in the same space under a superscript “r”:
This phenomenon is difficult to transcribe, and the standard references don’t deal with this problem in a systematic way. In a BAND meeting, we decided to attach a note with each receipt discussing the specific usage and add anything that Bentley or Keynes might say about this, but there is often a great deal of variation in Bentley and Keynes’ treatment of Blake’s punctuation. Sometimes Blake Records reproduces Blake’s writing exactly, but not always. Bentley often places the period or colon after the superscript, and Keynes omits it quite frequently. Thus, we have many nearly identical notes about minute differences in punctuation, but not much discussion of the fact that the differences in punctuation is such an important aspect of the receipts. This issue led me to think of two questions about how we could address this. First, would it be more useful to have individual notes on each of the receipts that have any such punctuations and record the varying transcriptions in each case, or to have a set of notes that cover the entire set of receipts and discuss recurring issues like interestingly placed periods in greater detail (and I’m thinking about the stamps here as well)? The second question is more generally about a particular project or publication: should a project like the receipts include a list of the issues encountered and the decisions they led to as an aid to others working in digital archiving?