The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

An Example of Printed Visual Marginalia

The Folger Shakespeare has recently acquired a copy of the 1706 English edition of the travel narrative A New Voyage to the North… (Folger 269- 090q), written by the French physician Pierre Martin de la Martinière (1637-1676?) and published posthumously around 1700.1 As the title indicates, the book was a sequel to an account of de la Martinière’s voyages to Nordic countries published in 1671.2 The success of de la Martinière’s first book, republished a number of times in the late seventeenth century and translated into several languages, must have been the impetus for the Amsterdam publication of Nouveau voyage du Nort …, the French edition of the sequel.3 In 1708, the third (and last) account by de la Martinière was published, also in Amsterdam.4

Although de la Martinière visited Nordic countries while working as a physician on a Danish trade ship, his accounts are largely fictional rather than based on actual observations. Inhabitants of these areas are portrayed as curiosities and animals, as characters of fables. The entertaining tone of de la Martinière’s narratives must have contributed in to their popularity.

The French edition of de la Martinière’s account, Nouveau voyage du Nort, contains a series of engravings. Not much effort, though, was invested in the production of these prints, which provided minimal visual information about the subjects discussed in the text. Likewise, no effort was made to include natural elements in the backgrounds, which are mostly made of parallel-engraved lines.

engraving of man in "Nordic" costume
Page 26 of Nouveau voyage du Nort. Image courtesy of Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

The models for these depictions were costume and fable books, and the engravings were full-page images, each facing the text with their description.

two similar figures of men posing, right from a book of costumes, left from de la Martinere
Left, image from a book of costumes. Right, an image from de la Martinère, Nouveau voyage du Nort

The publishers of the English edition, Thomas Hodgson and Anthony Barker, had copies made of these prints. However, they had the images reduced so that they could all fit on one fold-out plate.

All of the engravings shrunk down to fit on one fold-out page
All of the images in one go.

Each subject now corresponded to a numbered figure set in a frame. Although the framing of the pictures provided clarity, it could also create confusion. This is clearly seen in the case of figures 7 and 8 from the English edition. In the Amsterdam edition, they appeared in the same image, while in the English edition, they were divided into two separate figures and, in the process, lost their meaning. The reading of the image with the text was also made more difficult with having to unfold a plate than when the image was facing the text.

right: image of eagle carrying away a wolf while a second wolf looks on; left: two separate images, one of a single wolf, the second of an eagle carrying off a wolf
Context is everything: on the right, the image from the French edition published in Amsterdam; on the right, the images from the English edition.

That is probably the reason why the owner of the Folger’s copy of A New Voyage to the North decided to cut apart the figures from the folded plate and paste each of them in the margins of the text, where they are described.

Pages 40 and 57 of the English edition with images pasted in
Pages 40 and 57 of the Folger’s copy, with the images pasted into the margins.

Although the publishers of the book did not mention that such cutting and pasting was possible, the fact that each vignette fits perfectly in the margins of the book makes one think that it may have been intended. Moreover, the early owner of our copy was not the only one to place the vignettes in the margins: at least one other similar copy reportedly exists.5

Few books have images printed in their margins.6 The Folger’s copy of A New Voyage to the North is thus an interesting and rare example of (pasted) printed visual marginalia.

  1. The date is uncertain and does not appear either on the title page or the colophon.
  2. Pierre-Martin de La Martinière, Voyage des païs septentrionaux, dans lequel se void [“sic”] les moeurs, manière de vivre et superstitions des Norwéguiens, Lappons, Kiloppes, Borandiens, Sybériens, Samojèdes, Zembliens et Islandois… Paris : L. Vendosme, 1671.
  3. Pierre-Martin de la Martinère, Nouveau voyage du Nort dans lequel on voit les moeurs, la manière de vivre, & les superstitions des Norwéghiens, des Lapons, des Kiloppes, des Borandiens, des Sybériens, des Moscovites, des Samojèdes, des Zembliens et des Islandois. A Amsterdam, aux despens d’Estienne Roger, marchand-libraire chez qui on trouve toute sorte de musique, n.d.
  4. Pierre-Martin de La Martinière, Nouveau voyage vers le Septentrion, où l’on représente le naturel, les coutumes et la religion des Norwégiens, des Lapons, des Kiloppes… Amsterdam : E. Roger, 1708.
  5. The dealer’s description mentions another copy of this book with printed marginalia at Yale University, although I have not been able to locate it.
  6. Examples that come to mind are late 1400s and early 1500s of Euclid’s edition and De re ichnographica by Giovanni Jacopo de Marinoni, published in 1751 by Leopold Johann Kaliwoda.

One Comment


  • Great observations on this new acquisition! Is it posiible that printing all the engravings in one page to be cut later by the reader, was an 18-century editorial practice yet to be studied?


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