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The Watermark Initiative

"Watermarks" Discussion List Archive from Virginia Tech

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right and left (A)

The question about right or left is a practical and 
an important one. I am researching the paper and watermarks in
the incunables printed in the Low Countries(The Netherlands and
Belgium) since 1990. These are about 2000 editions printed on
paper. I use two techniques electronradiographs and rubbings.
400 radiographs have been scanned and put on CD ROM (one copy)
another 400 have been made this month in two sessions of a couple
of hours in the basement of the  Royal Library,The Hague by the
Roentgen Technische Dienst , Rotterdam . These have to be scanned
yet by our Photographic Department.
The CD ROM can be searched in an Inmagic database at this moment,
but another integrated database will be constructed in a few
12.000 rubbings have been made , mostly of watermarks in the Low
Countries incunables in The Hague but also in many other
libraries in Europe and the USA.
The best rubbings are made of the mould side of paper and I have
always chosen this side to make my rubbings. This means that the 
rubbings give a letter p in the reading direction or inverse.
One set of photocopies of the 12.000 rubbings  is organized by
image. About 6000 are letter p watermarks, so there lies my big
organizing problem (not with the few balance watermarks I have;
balances will be a main problem with Venetian incunables).
So to pull apart the lots of letter p watermarks , after
splitting them by additional elements like quatrefoil,long
dash,etc. is to divde them in four groups:
p> mL
p< mL
p> mR
p< mR
> = reading direction or pointing right
< = inverse, or pointing left
mL = mark Left , the watermark is on the left side of the  
sheet,looking at the mould side of it
mR = mark Right, the watermark is on the right side of the sheet,
looking at the mould side of it
I know that most watermarkcatalogs do not indicate mould  or felt
and give mostly reading direction for letters and that modern
techniques make it possible to flip images. But I think that when
building one's own archive now , it is necessary to indicate and
choose the mould side and it is more handy to organize 4 groups
of 250 images than one of 1000.
Within one group  my first organizing element is the distance of
the two chainlines next to the watermark. 
Gerard van Thienen
Curator of incunables
Dept. of Special Collections
Royal Library , The Hague, The Netherlands
PO Box 90407 ,2509 LK The Hague
Tel. 31703140330
Fax  31703140655
Email Gerard.vanThienen@konbib.nl 

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