Produced by Robert W. Allison
Assoc. Prof of Religion, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine and
Research Fellow Ektaktikos of the Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies, Thessaloniki

© 1996 Robert W. Allison. All rights reserved.

Form for Searching Descriptions of Papers and Watermarks

Go to condensed form (form without explanations, for expert users and persons doing multiple searches)

How to Search Effectively

This search form offers you many ways to search for paper. Your search will yield a list of possible paper matches ranked by the percentage of "hits" among the various parameters you specify on this form. The papers with the most matching criteria will appear at the top of the list.

The most effective search strategy is probably to enter a few, more definite or pronounced characteristics of the paper as search criteria, and to avoid those descriptors that are more subjective or variable in nature. These less effective search parameters (so idicated on the form) will tend to reduce the percentage of successful matches of search criteria, and thus move legitimate paper matches to the lower part of the search results list.

Part 1: Paper Identification:

If you are looking for a paper or watermark located in a particular library, or if you want to see a description of a particular manuscript, you may specify here the library and collection to be searched, or specify the manuscript, by filling in the appropriate information in the spaces which follow:

Part 2: Manuscript Description.

The following elements of manuscript description occur in the paper descriptions and may be used in searching for papers. Please note that although it would be desirable to search for approximate numbers for dimensions and dates, our search capabilities at present are limited to exact numbers. You might want to search for adjacent numbers if you are searching by paper dimensions or date.

  1. Type of manuscript:
    Select type of manuscript here:

    Other manuscript type:

  2. Manuscript dimensions
    Please enter dimensions of folio (if a codex) or of sheet (unattached or in roll) in mm. in the boxes below.
    NOTE: enter numbers only, not the abbreviation, "mm."

    codex vertical dimension or narrow dimension of sheet:

    codex horiz. dimension or long dimension of sheet:

  3. Codex format
    If the manuscript is a codex, you may indicate the format of the codex or of that section of the codex in which this paper occurs (folio, quarto, octavo, etc) here:

  4. Use of paper in the manuscript
    The relationship of a paper to the manuscript with which it is now associated ranges from being the original material of the manuscript to being a completely distinct paper only incidentally associated with the present manuscript. You may select a descriptor in the box below which describes the relation of the paper to the manuscript in which it was found.

  5. Scribe Identification:
    If you are looking for papers associated with a particular scribe, you may enter the scribe's name here.

    First Scribe:

    Second Scribe:

    Third Scribe:

  6. Provenance
    If you are looking for paper(s) associated with a particular locale or scriptorium, you may enter that information here:

    Provenance (region or city):
    Scriptorium (monastery or other center of copy):

Part 3: Paper Description

The ten numbered elements of description in this section constitute the paper description proper. Any of these descriptors may be used in searching for papers.

  1. *Watermark design

    To search for papers with a particular watermark, please select one from the list of watermarks in the pull-down menu below.

    Please note that this list includes

    • Descriptors of Basic Motifs
      (for example: AMPHORA)
    • Supplementary descriptors for basic motifs (boxes for 2 descriptors)
      for example: with SINGLE HANDLE
    • Descriptors for secondary motifs occurring above or below the basic watermark design

    • Abbreviations
      NOTE: mgr. for "monogram," ltr. for "letter"

    NOTE: Please do not select parenthesized cross references or following explanations as options in the pull-down lists below.
    Basic Motif
    Supplemental Descriptor
    Supplemental Descriptor

    Secondary Motifs:
    Above the Basic Design:

    Secondary Motifs:
    Below the Basic Design:

    Type of facsimile from which the watermark image submitted to the Archive was produced:

  2. Countermarks

    To search for a particular countermark, please select one of the descriptors listed in the pull-down menu below. If the paper has no countermark, you may leave it blank, or select "No Countermark."

    Type of facsimile from which the countermark image submitted to the Archive was produced:

  3. Watermark Description

    • Watermark Dimensions can be used as descriptors for a search. Because of the variation among examples even of the same paper, however, it is not a very effective means of searching, and could eliminate possible paper matches from the search results. If you have little other data by which to search, and your dimensions do not turn up any potential paper matches, you might repeat the same search with dimensions somewhat larger or smaller.

      NOTE: "Vertical" in the watermark description means parallel with the alignment of the chain lines; it is not necessarily the same as the vertical axis of the design.

      NOTE: In the paper descriptions, dimensions are recorded in mm.; in printouts of paper descriptions, the vertical dimension is given first.

      Enter dimensions to be searched here (numerals only, not the abbreviation, mm.):

      Vertical dimension:

      Horizontal dimension:

    • Position of Watermark is described relative to the chain lines. It is a good means of searching, since all watermarks in this archive are described by one of these standard descriptors.

      Please select a descriptor for the position of the watermark here:

  4. Wire & Chain Lines Description

    Wire line patterns offer a very effective means of searching, since all papers are described by one of the patter descriptors listed below. Searching by measurements, however, is not very effective, because of the variability among papers produced from the same mold. If you opt to search by measurements, you might want to repeat the search several times, trying measurements slightly larger or smaller.

    • Density of wire lines in mm is indicated as the measure (in mm.) of 20 wirelines.

      Please enter the measurement of wirelines here (numerals only, not the abbreviation, mm.):

      Wire line patterns, although sometimes subject to interpretation, generally make good search options, since all papers in the Watermark Archive are described by one of these descriptors. Select an appropriate descriptor here:

    • Spacing of chain lines in mm:
      The degree of variability and complexity inherent in this element of description is very great, so it does not offer a very effective means for searching. As with other measurements, you should also search for measurements somewhat greater or smaller.

      How Chain Lines Are Measured:

      If the spacing of the chain lines is not regular, the intervals between them are indicated sequentially, with the position of the watermark (which often affects the spacing of the chain lines) indicated by parentheses, as follows:

      If the watermark is on a chainline, the spaces on either side occupied by the watermark are given in parentheses:

      If the watermark is positioned between or across two chain lines, the space between them is given in parentheses:


    If you choose to search by this means, enter the description of chain lines here (numerals only, not the abbreviation, mm.):

  5. Paper Thickness

    Paper thickness is described on a subjective and relative scale, using the descriptors provided in the pull-down list below. Only extreme cases will be listed as "very thin" or "very thick". If your search yields no results, you might try repeating the search with the adjacent descriptors. Please select from the following list:

  6. Paper Surface (color & texture description)

    • Color descriptors:

      Paper colors are described only by the terms found in the pull-down list, below. Because of the subjectivity inherent in this element of description, you might want to try more than one if your first search yields no results.

      "white," and "off-white" indicate lighter color tones
      cream ==> ivory ==> beige represent a continuum from yellowish to browninsh tones.

    • Texture descriptors:
      All papers in the archive are described by a selection of the texture descriptors in the following list. The most effective means of searching would be by the most prominent feature(s) of the paper surface. Select descriptor(s) from the following:
      dark fibres visible in paper
      wire lines visible in surface of paper

  7. Stiffness of Paper

    All papers in the archive are described by a selection of the stiffness descriptors in the following list. The most effective means of searching would be by the most prominent trait(s) of the paper. Select descriptor(s) from the following:

    fiber-network disintegration

  8. Date of the Paper

    Century is indicated in the form 14** (=1400-1490; decade by 145* (= 1450-1459); range of dates by 145*-146*)

  9. References to Published Watermarks

    References to published specimens of watermarks might be useful means of searching if you have a paper which you have tentatively matched up with a watermark listed in, say, Briquet, and you want to determine if any papers in the Watermark Archive have also been linked with that Briquet example.

    References to published watermark catalogues are typically given by author and the watermark reference number used in that catalog.

    Common Abbreviations:

    • Briquet
      C. M. Briquet, Les Filigranes. Second Edition, 4 volumes, Leipzig, 1923. Reprinted N.Y., Hacker Art Books, 1966 and 1985.
    • Harlfinger
      Dieter & Johanna Harlfinger, Wasserzeichen aus griechischen Handschriften. Berlin, Nikolaus Mielke, 1974.
    • Mosin & Traljic
      Vladimir A. Mosin and Seid M. Traljic, Filigranes des XIIIe et XIVe SS. Zagreb, Academie Yougoslave des Sciences et des Beaux-Arts, Institut d'Histoire, 1957.

    Please enter below sources and watermark reference numbers to be searched:

    First source:

    Short entry:
    Watermark reference:

    Second source:

    Short entry:
    Watermark reference:

    Third source:

    Short entry:
    Watermark reference:

  10. Optional Additional Notes Optional additional notes occur in these descriptions sporadically for mention of special circumstances affecting the paper or to clarify or qualify any element of your description, you may add here such comments as
    • how the paper is distributed through the codex
    • how the paper is mixed with other papers
    • severe acid deterioration
    • severe water stains
    • information to help the user locate very faint watermarks in the print
    • comments regarding any references given above to published watermarks
    • etc.
    You may enter here any key words pertinent to the paper you are searching that you think might occur in Archive descriptions in the Optional Notes section:

    When you have finished defining your search, you may:
    if you want to start over.

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Created by Robert W. Allison
Dept. of Philosophy & Religion, Bates College
Lewiston, Maine 04240

Updated: September 29 1996

© 1996 Robert W. Allison. All rights reserved.