[Paper Description Page: image of rounded scales watermark]

The Watermark Initiative

"Watermarks" Discussion List Archive from Virginia Tech

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right and left

Since Tomas Stohr's observations about coded watermark descriptions have
launched a discussion topic about what information ought to be included in
the watermark description (IPH 3.1.3 - 3.1.5), we raise here the question
of Left and Right, which is also the question of the grid method and
whether it could/should somehow be integrated into watermark descriptions
in a system of distributed WWW-based archives.

Many watermark images will be available (as they are now in printed
catalogs and articles) which do not indicate from which side of the paper
the facsimile was made. And this seems likely to be an ongoing condition
even with modern watermark facsimiles. Moreover, the use of digital images
makes it easy for scholars to flip images for purposes of study and
attempts to identify matching watermarks.  Is it worthwhile, then, to
concern ourselves with right and left in the written description of the
watermark? (This means such questions as whether the handle of the jug is
on the right or left side; whether the stripe on the jug runs from upper
right to lower left or the reverse; whether a heraldic device occurs in the
lower right or lower left quadrant of the crest.)

If the search to find a matching watermark involves two stages -- searching
to narrow the field, followed by visual study of a limited pool of
potential matches, then would it not be better to leave questions like
those above to visual comparison?

To put it another way, doesnt inclusion of a determination of left and
right in a watermark description move us beyond the realm of *raw data*
over into the realm of *analysis* of the watermark, because it is dependant
upon determining which side of the paper the facsimile was taken from?  (It
is a matter of *analysis* because it involves making a judgment based on
other data.)

How should we deal with this question (or the related question of use of
some form of the grid method) in the watermark description?

Bob Allison             Jim Hart
<rallison@bates.edu>    <jhart@bates.edu>

Robert W. Allison
Dept. of Philosophy & Religion and
Chair, Classical & Medieval Studies
Bates College,
Lewiston, Maine, USA 04240

E-MAIL:         rallison@bates.edu
TEL:            (207) 786-6307
FAX:            (207) 786-6123

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