Paper and watermarks as bibliographical evidence - Dr. Neil Harris

The course provides a basic introduction to the techniques of Western hand paper-making and to how paper is exploited as bibliographical evidence in the study of manuscripts and printed books. It begins with the historical background of the advent of paper-making in the Middle Ages (when in Italy the technology was developed by contact with the wool industry) and continues through to the Nineteenth century and the introduction of mechanised paper-making with the Fourdrinier process. Extensive reference will be made to Eighteenth-century published texts and copper-plate illustrations in French, in particular L'Art de faire le papier by Lalande (1761) and the entry "Papeterie" in the Encyclopedie of Diderot and D'Alembert (1765), in order to explain the organisation of the paper mill and work done at the vat.
It will analyse in detail basic sheet-size ratios (in particular those on the Bologna stone, c. 1389), formats, mould construction, the purposes of twin moulds, and the design and typologies of watermarks; it will also include a survey of standard sources and will explain how to interpret Briquet, Piccard, and other repertories for the purpose of watermark recognition and classification. Practical sessions will involve the examination of sheets of paper, mainly from the Eighteenth century, in order to distinguish the mould/felt sides, to identify watermark/countermark, and to recognise twin watermarks. Information will also be provided about methods employed to describe and reproduce watermarks, such as tracing, rubbing, ß -radiography, and digital imaging.
Explanations will be provided about how paper evidence can be applied to identify substitutions and modifications in manuscripts or in printed books. Some cases in which paper evidence has played a key part in the resolution of a bibliographical problem, such as the Constance Missale speciale, the De cardinalatu of Paolo Cortesi, the first edition of the "rifacimento" of the Orlando Innamorato by Francesco Berni, and the Shakespeare Pavier quartos will also be considered.
The course will not deal with issues of paper conservation or restoration.