Skip to main content
The Collation

As the commenters on last week’s crocodile guessed, the mystery image showed writing masquerading as print or, to use the more formal term, a pen facsimile (click on any of the images in the post to enlarge them):

May crocodile

pen facsimile of the 1611 Authorized Bible (STC 2216), sig. ^2^2A6r

It’s telling that two of the three guesses focused not on the blackletter but on the roman font and the decorated initial. Both of those aspects, I think, are easier to spot as being somehow “off” in comparison to what we expect from print. But we’re not so used to looking at blackletter, and so a manuscript facsimile of that type isn’t quite as tell-tale. This is particularly true when the facsimile doesn’t have the print nearby as a point of comparison, but the difference isn’t necessarily glaring even looking across the gutter to the early printed page: 

  1. A side note: the last leaf of this book is ²2A6, which means it’s the second occurrence of the AA series. Since the captions don’t display superscripts well, I’ve used carets to surround the initial 2. It is, I realize, not the most straightforward of signature marks. But the full sequence, which makes it slightly clearer, is A⁶ B² C⁶ D⁴; A-4Z⁶ 5A-5C⁶; ²A-²Z⁶ ²2A⁶.
  2. “Perfect” is one of those odd bibliographical terms that shows how much standards and tastes have changed since we’ve been studying these objects. To “perfect” a book is to supply any missing or damaged leaves with leaves from another copy of that book or with facsimiles of those leaves. By our standards, this is far from a perfect practice and one that libraries today don’t follow.
  3. Toshiuki Takamiya, “John Harris and the facsimile pages” in Caxton’s Chaucer (British Library)


Well done! –EBBA

Patricia Fumerton — May 6, 2013


Dealer’s description of a Second Folio just arrived in my in-box. It says, ‘The “To the Reader” leaf and title-page are expertly accomplished antique facsimiles on old paper and the final Cymbeline leaf as these, all done many years ago in completely unobtrusive and very skilled workmanship.’

Reminds me of the sign in a shop window down the street advertising “original reproductions” of John F. Kennedy inauguration invitations.

Erin Blake — May 8, 2013


Don’t bitch about the office copier breaking again…check out these incredible pen facsimiles:

@bookish_type — May 13, 2013


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *