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The Collation

Second Thoughts on Second Editions. The Dutch Fingerprint (Part II)

In my previous Collation post I explained what a bibliographic fingerprint is and how it works. The examples I will discuss in this post will demonstrate how useful the fingerprint is to compare copies remotely and to identify title editions and variants within editions. Some of these discoveries may shed more light on (bad) habits in book production and the marketing of books in the early modern period. If you doubt what printer’s and book sellers want you to believe, just verify some fingerprints!

A Second “Second Edition”

The rich Folger collections house an interesting story written by the prolific German Jesuit Hieremias Drexel (Augsburg 1581–Munich 1638). Unfortunately, the title page of this book is severely damaged. 

  1. The widow of Jan Cnobbaert was active from 1638 onwards. She stayed in the house Saint Peter where her husband had been running the printing shop, near the Domus Professa of the Jesuits in Antwerp.
  2. A. & A. de Backer & C. Sommervogel, Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus. 12 vols. Heverlee 1960.
  3. Parts of the watermark can be seen on the following leaves, each time more or less in the middle of the fore-edge margins: fols. A3, A6, B5?, B7, B11, B12, C7, C11, C12, D7, D11, D12, E7, E8, E11, E12, F7, F11, F12, G7, G11, G12, H7, H8?, H11, H12, I7?, I11, I12, K7, K8, K11, K12, L7, L8, L11, L12, M7, M8, M11, M12, N8, N11, N12, O7, O11, O12, P1 and P4
  4. The pagination has one unnumbered printed page (the title page), followed by a blank page, ten unnumbered printed pages, and a series of 321 numbered pages. The edition STCV 12902323 lacks the final leaf X8, which is presumably blank. In that case, the pagination formula would be identical to the one in the other 1641 edition recorded as STCV 6822926.
  5. Bishop Joannes Christophorus (Germ.: Johann Christoph von Liechtenstein-Kastelkorn (1591–1643), was bishop of Chiemsee from 1624 until his death. See E. Naimer: Liechtenstein, Johann Christoph Graf von (1591–1643), in E. Gatz (ed.), Die Bischöfe des Heiligen Römischen Reiches 1448–1648. Berlin 2001.
  6. The call numbers are RM215 N7 1645 Cage and RM215 N7 1646 Cage respectively.


A reader from Antwerp informed me that the URL of the STCV database has changed. Please consult the Short Title Catalogue Flanders here:

Goran Proot — October 12, 2012

I’ve updated the internal link in the post so that it now works; readers can also access the STCV at

Sarah Werner — October 12, 2012

For those interested in cataloging issues, please note that in Goran’s second example, the disingenuous 1646 book would still get a separate record in the catalog. That is because although the 1645 and 1646 books constitute the same ‘edition’ in bibliographical terms, they constitute separate ‘issues.’ The default approach for rare materials is that each edition and issue are represented on its own separate bibliographic record (that is, a single record in), while different impressions and variant states are described together. (The best and most concise definitions for these terms are found in Philip Gaskell’s from A New Introduction to Bibliography, excerpted nicely on the bookseller’s site:

In an ideal world, that is. Users of Hamnet and other online catalogs and databases–most particularly the ESTC–do not always follow this neat division. Please stay tuned for the first of an occasional series on cataloging at the Folger and beyond.

(Sarah, I really mean it this time!)

Deborah J. Leslie — October 27, 2012