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The Watermark Initiative

"Watermarks" Discussion List Archive from Virginia Tech

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watermark initiative

I congratulate professors Allison and Hart for their excellent job on 
"The Watrermar Initiative." This is a breakthrough in watermark 
classification. I will need time to assimilate the proposed system in 
detail. Meanwhile, I would like to submit certain ideas which I think 
might contribute to make the project even more useful.                   
 A) General comments: Certain watermark designs and making are 
intimately related to historical periods of paper production. Thus they 
may be linked with certainty to those periods, and will not appear 
later. Therefore, there is no need to have all watermarks in one computer 
data bank. The Archive could be subdivided into subarchives, each related 
to a certain period. Only as an example one could imagine the following 
sub division:                                                            
          Paper production              Watermarks                       
       individual (nomad craftsmanship) related to a (land)lord,         
                                        sometimes to a maker             
       massive craftsmanship            related to place or proucer      
       semiindustrial craftsmanship     related to producer, ditributer  
                                        or quality of paper              
       industrial                       all types                        
 But, maybe it would be enough if two large categories of data archives 
be considered,one before 1500 and another after that year. This could 
help all Latiunamerican historcal archives in developin their 
databanks.Of course, I realize, that traditionally sholars have been 
studying pre 1500(or1600) papers and their watermarks, and therefore 
bibliography is scarce on later material. But the bulk of the dates of 
documentation in american historical archives starts later. There is 
little use or need for earlier watermarks.                               
 B) Difficulties with IPH code: Recently I went threw the "Catalogue of 
Watermarks in Italian Printed Maps" by David Woodward, University Chicago 
Press 1996. Even though a great effort was made in this book to show the 
IPH code for each watermark fascimile, unfortunately there are several 
inconsistencies among these assignments. Many of the watermarks shown, 
are surrounded by a circle under a six pointed star but in the 
identification one can find a large variety of codes:                    
   in # 16 to 22              U1[J5/4]                                   
   in # 35, 36                [U1-J5/4]                                  
   in # 91/92                 [U1]-J5/4                                  
   in # 107 to 110            [U1]-J5/3                                  
   in # 121to123,and 126to130 <f:U1{b:J5/4}>                             
   in # 150,158to176,214/215                                             
        221/222 and 238to242  <f:U1{t:J5/4}>                             
   in # 146                   <U1>-{t:J5/4}                              
 and I would probabily have written:         <f:U1>-{t:J5/4}
    I am not criticizing the publication on italian maps, but I want 
enfasize how difficult it is to find an agreement even on a simple 
pattern. I think there is a need of elaborating or reconsidering the 
coding system, or at least produce an extense users manual.              
  C) Digital Camara fascimile: I blieve this is the future of 
reproduction of watrmarks for most researchers and students. Th methjod 
should be includes as a separate procedure and fully explained.          
  D) Some particular characteristics of certain periods and places: 
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". If the stamped paper were not used 
during the validation period, and left blank, they could be used later 
for other purposes, like: covers, inside of bindings, drafts, printing of 
all types, etc. So the "intermidiate use" ceased, giving place to the 
"end use", not always related to documentation.

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