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The Watermark Initiative

"Watermarks" Discussion List Archive from Virginia Tech

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Spanish Registry Stamps

After the holidays, and the horrendous ice storm that put us all out of
commission here in Maine, we are finally getting back to work on the
development of a working model of a WWW-based system of watermark and
paper archives.

The first question that came up just before the holidays was how best to
accommodate registry stamps -- a feature of paper that is not includedin
the IPH Standard. This message is accordingly addressed both to you,
Professor Stohr, and to all others in the discussion group who can help us
come up with an appropriate design for handling this data.

Professor Stohr wrote:

> Spaniards invented in 1635 and mantained ever after official stamped
> paper, to be used in all official and private documents. The stamps
> showed the year or years of validity, thus giving an excellent
> orientation on the date of making of the paper and watermark. This
> stamped paper before rendering useful must be considered a new category
> in paper usage:"intermediate use".

This is an excellent contribution to this discussion because it raises
important considerations both about how to design a database for universal
application. and about substantive issues of how we think about paper. (It
has even raised some questions for us that may lead to refinements of some
already existing parts or design features of our model that have nothing
directly to do with these stamps.) We can't have a good database design
without thinking through the substantive issues. So -- even though this
makes for a lengthy communique -- we list here for discussion several
"substantive issues" followed by their database design implications.

(1) SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE: Should we expect to find the same kinds of paper --
paper from the same mills and moulds --  in circulation both with and
without Spanish registry stamps?

DESIGN IMPLICATIONS: if so, we want to be sure that searches for other
parameters will locate the stamped paper too, and enable users to discover
that some of this batch of paper was stamped and some wasn't.

(2) SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE: Should this data be included in a standardized
paper description, or is it too secondary in nature to the paper itself?

DATABASE DESIGN IMPLICATIONS: where to include the data -- (A) in the
paper description file, or (B) in an existing, separate file such as (for
example) physical content file, where it would be treated as physical
content added to the paper or (C) in a new, separate file set up
analogously to the watermark file?  An existing separate file could be
appropriate if the categories of information needed to describe these
registry stamps correspond closely to those used in an existing file
somewhere else in our model, and if there is a strong analogy between
registry stamping and the aspect of paper description to which that file
is devoted.

(3) SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE:  The sample registry stamp
description sent to us by Prof. Stohr incudes the following descriptors:

SEAL:  Charles III of Spain
TYPE:  Third category, (monetary) value: 4 real
YEARS: 1764 and 1765

The substantive issue is, Are these descriptors sufficient as listed for
the purposes of a database?

The sample registry stamp looks something like this:

     xxxxxx                +
   xxx    xxx            UN REAL
 xx          xx
xx  Seal of   xx   SELLO TERCERO VN REAL,
x King Charles x   AN(N)OS DE MIL SETECIEN-
xx            xx   Y SESENTA Y CINCO
 xx          xx
   xxx    xxx

(Please excuse any errors in my transcription!)

DESIGN IMPLICATIONS: there are several, and here are several questions for
you, Tomas:

(1) "category" and monetary value probably need to be separated out into 2
distinct data fields so that they can be independently searched (in
keeping with a basic principle of relational database design that only one
type of data be handled in a single data field).

(2) in order to accommodate, in a universally useful database, all such
registry stamps, we need to know if other descriptors might be needed for
other kinds of registry stamps. Are there registration stamps found in
papers of other countries or other periods in Spain which include features
different from those in this sample?

(3) in order to accommodate possible variation among such stamps, we need
to know if the components of this registration stamp are really multiple,
separate stamps. Was the seal of Charles III stamped separately from the
text with superimposed cross on the right, in which case you would expect
to find the same seal used with different texts, and maybe also different
seals with the
same text? Or maybe cases of the seal or the text occurring alone? This is
relevant information because we might in the database have the seal
described only once and referenced in numerous descriptions of numerous
papers that would have different registration texts stamped on them.

(4) Is this a case where we should have an archive of images of
registration marks (analogous to the archive of watermarks), so that
images of individual registration stamps would be linked to their descriptions?

(5) to accommodate this data we need to know a little more about the
"category", namely, is "Third category" a grade of paper? or a weight or
size of paper? Does it correlate in any way with other descriptors or
parameters of paper that are found in the paper description database?
What, exactly, does it mean?

(6) Do the registry stamp categories and prices correspond in any way to
the government policies standardizing formats and pricing of paper
in other countries? If so, should we be developing a file with a more
comprehensive set of data fields to accommodate information related to
government standards for paper in an integrated and consistent way?

(7) Do we need to incorporate any codicological features into the
description of these stamps (e.g., ink color)?

SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE: Prof. Stohr offers a generic terminology, "intermediate use"
for dealing with registry stamps. Do we understand correctly that this
terminology conceives of such stamps as intermediate between production of
the paper and what the IPH Standard calls "end use" (IPH 3.0.8)?  If the
model that we have proposed is accepted, however, we will need a different
terminology from "intermediate use", because we have proposed some changes
>from the IPH Standard 3.0.8.

We invite you to take a look at our critique of the IPH conception of "end
use" in our commentary on the IPH Standard and offer your comments
The IPH standard needs refinement at this point because it lumps together
(A) types of paper bearing objects (such as books, drawings, musical
scores, documents, envelopes, maps, etc.) and (B) end uses of paper within
those and other paper bearing objects (end papers, backing papers, folios
in books, sheets in rolls, palimpsest folios, bindings of laminated papers,
restorations (hinges, patches, spine stiffeners or fillers, etc.)  Also,
although the term, "end use" implies a distinction between original use and
end use, the IPH Standard does not provide for original use, even though
these uses have different historical and prosopographical associations that
scholars want to be able to identify through study of paper.

DESIGN IMPLICATIONS: Our working model separates these two categories
(types of paper bearing objects and end use), referring "end use" not to
the kinds of physical objects for which paper is used but to the end uses
to which papers have been put. Since the end use may differ from the
original use, we have added a field called original use. This means that in
our present model the term "intermediate use" will not be appropriate,
since it seems to refer to something between original use and final use,
which would be misleading. Maybe we do not need any generic terminology,
but can simply meet our needs by terms like "registry stamps" or the like.

Maybe a solution would be to add a new category under original use:
"registered government paper" This approach in turn would require a means
of finding the related descriptive data (registry stamp date, office,
names of officials, "category" and price, and images of the stamps).


Assuming that all agree that this data should be included in the model,
several possibilities have occurred to us.

(A) Include registry stamps in the physical content file (as mentioned

(B) Treat registry stamps in the watermarks file, renaming this file more
generically "Paper Marks."

(C) Create a new file uniquely for registry stamps.

Lets take the options one at a time.

Option A makes sense logically, if you consider registry marks something
physical added to the paper after production of the paper, in the same way
that inks, pigments, etc. are added to the paper. Moreover, like inks,
seals, pigments and other codicological content, these registry stamps are
useful for finding related papers and for matters of dating and
establishing provenance  Secondly, "physical content" is a "function", that
is, a look-up procedure which searches for files containing that data that
was classified as "bibliographical/codicological" in the original IPH
design. This data is in a separate file because it is not logically part of
the description of a piece of paper.  This line of thought would suggest
that the
appropriate solution is to establish a file for registration stamps which
would also be related to the paper file as "physical content."
 The main objection to this approach is that most of the main descriptors
for the registry mark (king's name, "category, price) do not apply to other
kinds of physical content."

Option B has the advantage that the IPH system for describing the
watermark design could be applied likewise to the registry mark.
Nevertheless, the same objection applies here as to option A above, and
most people would
probably object to an "after-market" stamp being lumped together with a
watermark that is generated  in the production of the paper itself.

Option C avoids the problems of A and B, and to us seems to be the most
sensible approach.  But if this is the way to go, we need to consider (as
suggested above) what other descriptors should be included either to
accommodate other official registry systems, or to more fully describe
these Spanish registry stamps.

In any and all of the above, the user would find registry marks under
"Related Data" at the end of the Paper Description -- either specified in
descriptions following the "Physical Content" or "Watermark(s)" links, or as a
separate link, "Registry Stamps".

Among the fields for description of the registry stamp could be one which
would function as a direct link to an image of the stamp, which would
actually be stored in a file (archive) of such registry images, in much
the same way that the system handles images of watermarks.

Bob Allison                    Jim Hart
Classical & Medieval Studies   Information Services
Bates College                  Bates College
rallison@bates.edu             jhart@bates.edu

The Watermark Initiative was created by

Robert W. Allison
Dept. of Philosophy & Religion, Bates College and

James Hart
Information Services, Bates College Lewiston, Maine, 04240