The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Tagged: signature marks

So how do you find symbols in signature marks?

Sarah: In my last post, I showed some examples of books that use symbols in signature marks. But how did I find these books and how might you find more examples? It’s one thing to search for books printed in the year 1542, since “publication year” is a standard search box and “1542” is written… Continue Reading »

The symbols of signature marks

I’ve written before about what sort of information we can learn from studying signature marks, and Goran wrote recently about the use of Latin abbreviations to indicate the gathering. So I thought the time has come to look at some of the other types of marks we find in signature marks. What comes before A? This 1579… Continue Reading »

Abbreviations and signatures

As Sjoerd Levelt guessed in the comments, this month’s crocodile image featured an abbreviation, rather than a letter, in the signature mark: Here’s a longer look at what this character is and how it ended up being used in the signature. ((I would like to thank Ron Bogdan, who brought this example to my attention.))… Continue Reading »

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… Continue Reading »


Just like “Fernweh”—the opposite of “Heimweh” or one’s longing for distant countries—the German word “Fingerspitzengefühl” is almost impossible to translate. Literally it refers to the sensitivity of one’s fingertips and it expresses an accurate knowledge or a delicate feeling that some people have for certain things or situations. It is a conviction which you cannot… Continue Reading »

Detective Work: The Dutch Fingerprint (Part I)

Previous Collation posts may convince even the most skeptical reader that bibliographic work often requires detective work. In some cases, this may involve bibliographers to take fingerprints. Fingerprints are regularly used by bibliographers to find out whether or not two copies are printed from the same setting of type. Roughly speaking, identical settings in two… Continue Reading »

Deciphering signature marks

So, as those of you who have spent any time working with early modern printed books probably recognized, this month’s crocodile mystery focuses on signature marks. Below is the photo I posted last week, now with the signature mark circled in red: Signature marks are those letters, numbers, and sometimes symbols at the bottom of… Continue Reading »