December 18th, 2010 Comments Off on Watermarks

S e a s o n ‘ s   G r e e t i n g s

Deer's Head Watermark | Briquet 15541 | Brabant 1449

While the Chinese, Arabs, and Spanish all had paper before the Italians, they were the first to watermark paper. Watermarks are areas of the paper where an identifying mark is left by bent wire in the screen mold. The marks range from a simple circle to the most elaborate escutcheons.  Almost all catalogues of prints and drawings published in recent years have an appendix with watermarks. Researching watermarks has become easier now that the standard reference books Briquet and Piccard are online.   The table below, with links, shows several online resources. For a discussion about the ways of recording watermarks, here is a link to an article published by Nancy E. Nash in an American Institute for Conservation publication. Neil Harris’s work Paper and watermarks, published in 2010 and available online, is very engaging and full of important information and references for the study of watermarks. It seems beta-radiography is one of the best ways of recording watermarks, but this is impractical for most people. With my drawings, I use my laptop as a light table, position a ruler near the drawing, and take a photograph. I should also say that it is very, very seldom that I successfully match a watermark.

DatabaseCoordinating OrganizationBased on Tracings or FilmDetail
Briquet OnlineÖsterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Kommission für Schrift- und Buchwesen des Mittelalters (Wien) and the Laboratoire de Médiévistique Occidentale de Paris.TracingsOngoing digitization of Briquet volumes (eventually all 16,112)
Thomas L. Gravell Watermark CollectionUniversity of Delaware and Bibliothèque de GenèveFilm and TracingsContains 29,000 watermarks from Briquet archive in Geneva which were never published
Le filigrane degli archivi genovesiUniversità di GenovaTracings
NIKI Nederlands Interuniversitair Kunsthistorisch Instituut - Dutch University Institute for Art History FlorenceFilmSign in as guest, search button in upper right. Watermarks of papers used for prints and drawings from c. 1450 to 1800.
Piccard OnlineHauptstaatsarchiv StuttgartTracings
Watermarks in Incunabula Printed in the Low CountriesKoninklijke Bibliotheek - National Library of the NetherlandsFilm

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