Pollard 1891

From Whiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Pollard, A. W. Last Words on the History of the Title-Page. London: Nimmo, 1891.

"Twelve illustrations and about half my letterpress now appears for the first time, and with these additions I trust that my slight subject has in this final form received adequate treatment."

Begins with Bagford -- bookseller, dedicated to trade, yet "when the name of John Bagford is mentioned book-lvoers hiss through their teeth the word Biblioclast" (1)

Collected 25000~ title pages, 10k of which are pasted into 9 large folio volumes at BL; the rest are part of 198 volumes of Bagford's Remains in Harleian collection -- manuscript portion recently severed from the rest and put in dept of mss

Discussion of whether it was right for Bagford to tear title pages out of books -- "Books are always books, but if any are to be selected for mutilation it would be hard to make a better choice than works of Dutch and German theology." (2)

"It is pleasant for a moment to indulge the hope that the books from which Bagford made his collection were themselves mere fragments, from which he rescued the best leaves. If this were really the case his conduct might appear even commendable. In the absence of photographic facsimiles such a collection was really almost a necessary foundation to a history of printing, if this were to be written as the work of a single man; and if the collection were made without damage to any perfect book, surely Bagford did well rather than ill. But unfortunately for this theory there is one damning piece of evidence against Bagford's moral character, which must be held quite decisive. He cut the margins of the leaves he preserved, often close round the edge of the text; and the man who would do this, would do anything." (3)

Uses Bagford's apparently zealous interest in title pages to prove that the title page "in the early days of printing, must have possessed attractions very greatly superior to those of its modern successor" -- very beautiful

"Even when books were written instead of printed it is surprising that the title-page should never have been invented; but the monks were presumably economical, and refused to devote a whole leaf of good paper or parchment to information which could be given in three or four lines." (4)

In mss, it was "rubrisher" or rubricator who drew initial letters, inserted paragraph marks, and sometimes wrote head-titles (5) -- from rubricator we often get date

42- and 36-line bibles don't have title pages or colophon -- "STrange asd this reticence seems to us, it had been the rule, rather than the exception, throughout the ages of literature in manuscript. ... Whatever other interest our medieval forefathers may have possessed, for bibliography theycared nothing." (7)

Colophons -- summit, top, finishing; Strabo says the word is dervief rom the Greek town of Colophon in Ionia, "whose cavalry were so excellent that they always brought a contest to a triumphant end"

Plato speaks of putting a colophon to an argument -- finishing stroke

No colophons in earliest printed books, but Mentz Psalter of 1457: first instance of printed colophon, quoted on pg 8

Latin Dictionary of Joannes Balbus, printed Mentz 1460, has a colophon probably by Gutenberg -- next colophon known (1460); no printers name although printing is named and separated from writing by hand

Trend toward colophons in verse -- often talk about the invention of printing

Peter Schoeffer and others learn to give colophons distinct look by printing them in red ink -- this led to printer's device or trademark, which helped indicate where a book could be purchased (12)

Instance of colophon in 1470 book; illuminator added in gold the title on the front -- so manuscript filling gap for print

Plenty of info in colophons "but to be obliged to turn to the end of a book to know its subject was intolerable, and the marvel is that it was not sooner felt to be so" (13) -- "supreme inconvenience of the colophon as a means of conveying needful information" (13)

"It is hard to understand how the first printers, who had introduced so mighty a revolution in the art of mulitplying books, hesitated for so long over so simple and so sorely needed a reform as the introduction ofthe title-page." (14)

Page numbering; introduced by Arnold Therhoernen at Cologne, "Sermon preachable on the feast of the Presentation of the most Blessed Virgin" (1470)and also "first adumbration of a title-page"; three years later, "a very similar one was set up by Conrad Fyner of Esslington

First title page according to Pollard: 1476, "an absolutely perfect and complete title-pge; book printed in Venice simultaneously in Latin, Italian, and German

Between 1480 and 1490, "the 'label' title-page creeps into existence" (15) -- short title at top of a blank page

"But a full title-page, like that adopte this one time by Ratdolt and his fellows, will hardly be found again until nearly the end of the century, and did not become common until as late as 1520. So slow was the rate at which a simple but most useful innovation, found acceptance." (15)

"Perverse conservativism" (15)

Caxton -- told name of book and date at end of prologue, TOC, text, or epilogue -- "anywhere in facgt rather than on an otherwise blank first page" (15)

De Worde: The Chastising of God's Children (1491), title page

After Caxton's death "title-pages came slowly into use, English practice, as usual, lagging some ten years behind continental usage" (17)

Illuminations on first page subsumed by woodcut borders

"There was thus a really serious danger that a highly-ornamented first page of text should be accepted as the appropriate beginning of a book, even after the printers had emancipated themselves from their thraldom to the scribes." (18)

First "title pages" just words printed without decoration -- then decorations took over

But short titles on woodcuts and title pages -- info on printer and date still left for colophon

Antoine Verard -- Paris publisher end of 15 / early 16c, printed on vellum, illustrated works with gorgeous illuminations by painting over woodcuts; would make elaborate L initials

In Italy from 1490 on "it is hardly too much to say that there is no such thing as a coarse or ugly Florentine or Venetian title-page, and there are many whose beauty has never been surpassed" (23)

"Italian printers appear to have considered that illustrated title-pages were chiefly needed in works that appealed to a popular audience." (25) -- others, the title was just set in a beautiful type

Aldus -- simple title pages at first, just name of author' then more complex

Printer's devices first at the end with the colophon; "but as the desire for ornamental title-pages increased, the printer's device is often found occupying the place of the woodcut illustrations at which we have just been looking" (28)

Place added, so buyers could find the book; then name

"Here, then, in the second quarter of the 16c we find title-pages fully complete, giving all the information we can need, and at the same time attaining a high standard of beauty." (30)

Emergence of large woodcuts with small square left for title

Afterwards, in 17c, we find nothing "but caricature, carlessness, and ill-taste" (32) -- desire to state too much and show off myriad types

"During this unhappy century whatever car or artistic skill was spent upon books went to enrich the meretricious charms of those engraved title-pages which the self-respecting bibliographer in most cases refuses to recognize as title-pages at all. For on the heels of these pretty impostors there nearly always follows a staid and unattractive printed title-page, which too often has to correct their lying dates, and reduces them to the level of mere frontispieces with no special claim on our attention, charming though they often are." (36)

"The merits of the old title-pages may be summarized as consisting in (i) the quaintness and beauty of their printers' emblems (2) the restriction of the number of types to a minimum, which usually allowed only one and seldom more than two (3) the massive arrangement of these types either in rectangles, a method of disposition now slowly coming into use, or in triangles, as in our Giunta illustrations (4) the skilful use of red ink." (37)