S e a s o n ‘ s G r e e t i n g s
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.
Database Coordinating Organization Based on Tracings or Film Detail
Briquet Online Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Kommission für Schrift- und Buchwesen des Mittelalters (Wien) and the Laboratoire de Médiévistique Occidentale de Paris. Tracings Ongoing digitization of Briquet volumes (eventually all 16,112)
Thomas L. Gravell Watermark Collection University of Delaware and Bibliothèque de Genève Film and Tracings Contains 29,000 watermarks from Briquet archive in Geneva which were never published
Le filigrane degli archivi genovesi Università di Genova Tracings NIKI Nederlands Interuniversitair Kunsthistorisch Instituut - Dutch University Institute for Art History Florence Film Sign in as guest, search button in upper right. Watermarks of papers used for prints and drawings from c. 1450 to 1800.
Piccard Online Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart Tracings Watermarks in Incunabula Printed in the Low Countries Koninklijke Bibliotheek - National Library of the Netherlands Film