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The Collation

A catchy Italian design

In 1629 Agostino Mascardi’s Italian story about the conspiracy of Count Giovanni Luigi de Fieschi was published—according to a statement on the engraved title page only suggesting an imprint—in an unspecified Antwerp printing shop. Because of that, the edition is entered into the Short Title Catalogue Flanders, but in reality it is probably not a Flemish imprint at all. In this blog post, I will not go into detail about the printing history of this text, which appeared in the same year as well in Milan and Venice, but I will limit myself to a discussion of the layout elements suggesting a non-Flemish origin.

Engraved title page (fol. +1 recto) of the so-called Antwerp edition (Folger 197208)

Engraved title page (fol. +1 recto) of the so-called Antwerp edition (Folger 197208)

  1. See Karen L. Bowen and Dirk Imhof, Christopher Plantin and Engraved Book Illustrations in Sixteenth-century Europe. Cambridge/New York 2008.
  2. The STCV does not distinguish between different sorts of plusses and crosses used for signing: most variants are represented by the plus-sign in the collations, see the online manual p. 114.
  3. On the third place comes the paragraph mark (“§”), appearing as the first sign in collations in almost 150 editions. Other signs, such as the dot (“.”), the question mark (“?”), or the so-called pied-de-mouche, (rendered as “q”), are much more infrequently found as signatures for prelims.
  4. For this survey, I looked again at the signatures of the prelims signed with “+” of about 80 editions, images of which are available in the STCV database.
  5. In his pioneering survey discussing compositorial practices, R. Sayce notes for Antwerp “number of leaves signed half plus one,” cf. R.A. Sayce, Compositorial practices and the Localization of Printed Books 1530–1800. A Reprint with Addenda and Corrigenda, Oxford: Oxford Bibliographical Society 1979, p. 43. In the beginning of the 16th century, Antwerp printers often only signed half of the number of leaves of a gathering, cf. G. Proot “Designing the Word of God: Layout and Typography of Flemish 16th-Century Folio Bibles Published in the Vernacular,” in De Gulden Passer, 90 (2012), 143-179, here: 160, table 5.
  6. To collect this data, I surveyed only the last three letters of the collations recorded in the database, which causes bias because a considerable number of collations do not finish with the number of leaves of the final gathering. But even with this in mind, the overall trend is clear. For quartos final gatherings in 4 are normal, final gatherings in 2 come second, and final gatherings in 6 are fairly rare. This is also the case for final gatherings in 8 and other structures.
  7. About the importance of em-spaces in layout, see Claire Bolton, “The influence of type and spacing on the design of the printed page,” in Jaarboek voor Nederlandse boekgeschiedenis 19 (2012), pp. 51–64; see also Margaret M. Smith, “Le black aldine and the paragraph mark,” in William J. Jones et al. (eds) “Vir ingenio mirandus”. Studies presented to John L. Flood, Göppingen 2003, vol. 2, pp. 537–557.
  8. About the evolution of the rectangular shape of text areas, see Frans A. Janssen, Goud en koper in de boekenwereld, Amsterdam 2008, esp. the section titled “De rechthoek in de typografie”, pp. 33–55.
  9. Erik Geleijns, “Niet gedrukt in Den Haag. Achttiende-eeuwse boeken met een vals Haags impressum,” in Jaarboek voor Nederlandse boekgeschiedenis 15 (2008), pp. 109–124.

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