Tag Archives: printer’s devices

A printer and his devices

If you don’t already know, I’m writing two books on books. What started out as a relatively simple endeavour, has turned into an event bigger than Ben Hur. It’s not the writing; it’s the fact that I gathered so much information on the way, it is bursting out of my head. I want to use it all.

While I check over my information on watermarks, I thought I would include the printer’s name. I figured that would be a great way to perhaps correlated paper with region, usage and printer. Turns out that some printers go by variant of the same name.

Take Moritz Georgius Weidmann. This is his printer’s device:

 

two globes as a printer's device

Weidmann printer’s device of two globes on title page

His name appears in red. However in the book his name appears as Mauritius Georgius Weidmann. If you search the CERL database of European printers, you will find many other variants of his name. His son, bearing the same name,  continued his practice after his death; it is therefore hard to distinguish between one and the other.

Getting back to too much information. In researching printers, I then found out that they used particular type or particular alphabets. If I’d actually thought about it, this seems quite obvious. So here are some examples of Weidmann (Weidman) capitals:

Just for your information.

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Printer’s devices 1480 onwards

I was looking for some database or images of printer’s devices. These are the branding images used by printers in early books. Since I couldn’t find any, here are the devices I have found, along with corresponding names.I have also included title pages in case I couldn’t find a printer symbol.

I do have a couple of marks for the Plantin printery, the Sonnius printery.

I was searching for the Vatican printers marks. I have seen many books printed by the Vatican by no decisive mark. Anyone out there able to point me in the right direction?

ok, so I got impatient with trying to find all these devices on my computer.

I hope you enjoy them, and as I add more to this gallery I will update the details.

I would be happy to hear about any info you may have about any of these devices.

cheers

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Title pages, vignettes and other decor – not watermarks

You may or may not know that I have been conducting some photo research into the bindings in the rare book stack of the National Library of Australia. For the last two years, I’ve managed to examine over 220 books ranging from 1470 to 1900. At first I was only looking at their bindings, mostly because some of the books were in such a state that I could see the spine linings of recycled parchment and other material.

And one thing led to another and hey presto, I’m also searching for watermarks. And all this research leads me to write a book; ok, maybe two books.

However, since enrolling in modules from the course The Book: Histories across space and time offered by Harvard University through the EdEx platform, I have realised that there are equally important parts of the book I had previously ignored.

For example, who really cares about a title page? Well I didn’t. To me it was just some bland page or pages at the front of the book; let me get to the meat of the subject! why bother me with all this other info? While enrolled in the History of the book in the 17th and 18th centuries as well as in Print and manuscript in Western Europe, Asia an the Middle East (1450 -1650), I discovered that there is more to the title page than I had appreciated.

The title page of today has evolved to become what it now is. To put it briefly (I do recommend auditing those two courses above), early books did not have title pages. Or at best they had very little to indicate what the reader what letting himself in for. The two images below give you the basics, plus some place to scribble:

The image below is just images, no text.

 

The back matter of the book would contain a list of the first few lines from the sections; presumably this would help the binder bind the book, and would allow the reader to make sure that he had all the pages in the correct order. The image below also has the printer’s device.

 

If we leave the 15th century, the sixteenth century now sees more elaborate text

 

More of the relevant information is at the front; saves us searching all the way to the back of the book. And as time passes and readers become more educated, or in fact, that there are now more readers in the general population, the first few pages contain the what will now be called the front matter: it will have the title, author’s name, place of printing, printer’s name, people who contributed financially to the making of the book, and possibly endorsements, royal or otherwise.

Now we enter the 17th century. As printing was firstly done in black, any other added colour made the book more expensive. The red lines in the image below I suppose would have served to remind the reader of old parchment books, now long disused.

The front matter turns into messages to the reader from the translators, or the authors, and we get royal approbations, or recommendations by other authoritative figures. Modern branding techniques owe it all to publishers in the 17th century! Sometimes, if you wanted to be secretive you printed ambiguous address and false names so that you were not persecuted for your ideas.

 

The problem with developing interests is that two years ago I didn’t take the correct photos. Now that I am interested in the other matter of books, I find that my data is now lacking in evidence. I wasn’t paying attention to the little vignettes produced by the printers:

And I could go on ad nauseum with photos. I wish I could talk to you, show you in the books all these vignettes, title pages, and yes watermarks. As Australians we are lucky that we have access, for no reason whatsoever, to all this material. All you need is a national library card; go online now and get one. There is so much wonder to see in these books, and nothing we do today, in terms of marketing, was not thought up by our ancestors.

and to end this post, I couldn’t help myself, look at this:

RB JES 4979 Historia theologico-critica de vita, scriptis, atque doctrina sanctorum patrum Augsburg 1783

RB JES 4979 Historia theologico-critica de vita, scriptis, atque doctrina sanctorum patrum Augsburg 1783

How beautiful is this plate?

My books will describe about 220 books, with over 400 watermarks. Available by March 2017, in time for the Bookbinders Symposium 2017 to be held next March in Canberra.

cheers

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