From BoingBoing today:
New method to date old books and printsA scientist has come up with a new way to date books and prints created before the mid-19th century. The idea is that the wood blocks and metal plates used in the printing process degrade at a clocklike rate. That degeneration is visible in the prints themselves. The researcher who developed the idea, Penn State professor Blair Hedges, is a biologist but it was his passion for printed material that led him to this latest research. From Penn State Live:
Hedges, a biologist whose hobby involves Renaissance prints and maps, developed his "print clock" method by first measuring time-related changes in 2,674 Renaissance works. He found that the number of breaks in the lines of images printed from woodblock carvings increased over time, while the image intensity became more pale in copperplate prints. "Because woodblocks and copperplates were expensive to replace, they commonly were reused for decades to produce multiple editions of a book or print," Hedges said. His methods include taking digital photographs of the prints, which he analyzes with standard statistical methods and with widely used image-analysis software. Working with black-and-white pixels, the software can detect and count breaks in the lines of woodblock prints and can measure fading of the etched and engraved lines of copperplate prints.
The analyses reinforced the visible evidence that prints made from the same woodblock or copperplate were qualitatively different in later editions. Surprisingly, the analyses also revealed that the changes were usually clocklike on average, and therefore could be useful for calculating the printing dates of other art and books that currently are undated.
Step 1: Find contact info
Step 2: Confirm methodology
Step 3: Offer to help and find profit margin, wonderful!
Step 4: Retire to Canada. (suggested only)