Smith 2000

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In acknowledgments, grounds the project in design -- teaching students of typography "introduced me to the title-page's importance to practitioners" (10)

"The title-page as we know it was added to the book soon after printing became the principal way to produce books in the fifteenth century. Printing brought with it a number of changes in the design of books: the title-page is probably the best known of these." (11)

Quotes Oliver Simon on it being the single most important feature of a book; Stanley Morison on it displaying the book's "typographical character"

"For the historians of printing and the book the title-page has often been claimed as the most prominent innovation in book design that is directly attributable to the printer." (11)

Wants to see "the emergence of the title-page as a response (or set of responses) to printing -- not a direct response to the technological change that printing embodies, but to the economics implicit in the technology" (12) -- marketing tool

Terminological difficulties inherent to different disciplines

Frontispiece -- from architecture; conflated with title-page in 17/18c

R B McKerrow's definition: separate page with title of book, not containing part of the book itself -- "This highlights as essential the title-page's separatenes, separateness for the presentation of the title, and equally separateness from the beginning of the text" (14) -- McKerrow has to define title page against manuscript, though, showing we only ever look back at past through future

Move to mass reproduction "brought along various logistical problems. What was the printer to do with the copies that were not sold immediately? He had to keep them, of course, and because they were such valuable commodities, they had to be kept safely." -- if they weren't to be bound, needed blank at beginning (18)

Title-page grew out of need to label because of mass reproduction, then

After labeling, opens up possibility to move from "mere identification to promotion. In other words, its advertising potential became clear." (22)

"Promotion can be linked directly to the consequences of mass production, because the printer needed to sell the multiple copies, just as he needed to protect them. It may well be that the driving force behind the development of the title-page was its advertising potential rather than its protecting and identifying functions. All three of these, protection, identification and advertising, are new needs brought with the advent of mass production. So the theory at its fullest claims that mass production brought the need to protect which led to the blank, the need to identify which led to the label-title, and the need to promote which led to the full and sometimes decorated title-page." (22)

"The title-page is part of a text's macro-articulation, presenting its general nature to the reader or purchaser by its layout, its style of letterform and level of ornamentation, and of course by its words -- an abbreviated identification of] its contents: naming the author, the text, and giving its production pedigree, who produced it, when and where." (23)

The manuscript incipit, colophon and occasionally title-page

is "misleading to suggest that oboks without title-pages are in need of reform, as if there were something wrong with them" (25) -- points to remakrs by Pollard 1891

some people claim it would have been a waste of expensive parchment in mss -- but "the explanation for the lack of title-pages in manuscripts lies in the circumstances of its production and use" (27)

scribes focused on opening of texts -- used 1st sentence, incipit, and decorated first page

colophon at end of text; not always used; may contain author's name, title, scribe's name, date and place of completion; rarely on a separate page

explicit: simple statement that the text is finishing -- explicitus, "unrolled"

some early 9th-century title pages, on verso of first leaf -- see Harley Golden Gospels for an example of a proto-title page

latter 15c, luxury humanist mss with title pages, often associated with Florentine ms entrepreneur Vespasiano da Bisticci (produced for Federico da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino) -- 2 different layouts; rectangular, like monument, inscription on sarcophagus -- close in time to printed title page but often on verso and sometimes includes incipit; "it seems necessary to conclude that its principal contribution to the title-page of the printed book relates to the decorative characteristis of the later title-pgae, rather than its origins. If, as the theory of title-page development argues, the printed book's title-page is a response to mas production, the title-page of the one-off luxury manuscript can only be remotely connected to the forces that lay behind the development of the title-page in the printed book." (34)

Three famous examples of early title-pages

Gutenberg Bible follows manuscript practice

hand-supplied incipit and rubrication on the decline during incunable period

1463 papal Bull, Peter Schoeffer, often cited as the first "real" title-page -- a kind of label title; Schoeffer did not follow up on this and begin using title pages; "At least one commentator has likened him to an inventor who did not realise the importane of his invention, but the analogy would only be apt if we could fathom his reasons for its use." (40)

1470 title-page for Rolewinck's Sermon; also thinner pamphlet, and also didn't follow up on the practice

1476 Regiomontanus, Calendar; poem sets out title, author, city of printing

there are a few other pre-1480s examples: Conrad Fyner's 1473 edition of Exhortatio de celebratione missae; Hans Folz in Nuremberg, four small books printed in 1479 with title on verse of first leaf (46)

The blank at the beginning of the book

examining 4200 editions from the Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke; shows distribution of different types of opening (incipit + text, blank, title, other) -- just over 40% have titles, "a large minority"

when broken down over time, it's clear that use of titles soars toward the end of the century

most common was incipit, whether or not after a blank -- before 1470, incipit often meant to be added by hand

blank pages surprisingly common early on (just over 30% of incunables) -- well over half of editions; possibly protective role; but then why don't blanks persist after rise of title page?

blanks at end may be unintentional, but blank at beginning seems intentional, decision made at beginning of production process 953)

some blanks with titles continued to be called blanks by their printers; others have irrelevant other text on them, possibly bearer type, suggesting the leaves were intended to be cut away

blanks accrued owner's marks, pen trials, bookplates, library shelfmarks, collations (57)

The label-title and the end-title

by 1495-1500, 3x more likely a book would have a title on first page than anything else

label-title: simple title, abbreviated, with simple layout, top half of page, centered or in half-diamond

"On the basis of its content and treatment, it seems fair to characterise the role of the label-title as that of an identifier, rather than anything more." (60)

"The relationship between these early titles and the incipits that had preceded them is, in some cases, quite close. The title could almost be considered an incipit separated from its text." (62)

"Later in the history of the book, blank leaves would reappear at the beginnings of books, and half- and bastard-titles develop, but in the incunable period, the blank leaf at the beginning of the book block seems to have been a transitional feature in the development of the title-page itself, because it was not retained once the title-page appeared." (71) -- blank was replaced by title-page

why not title at end? some incunables do -- "integrated wrapper," title on front and last page -- bu reminder "that the development of the title-page at the front of the book need not have been inevitable, and other solutions might have developed" (73)

The label-title is joined by a woodcut

passe-partout or factotum woodcut, meant for reuse

changes in last 15 years of century: "new categories of information moved onto some title-pages, and there was an increasing use of decoration" (78)

"By the end of the century the title-page had become a standard feature of the printed book, even if there still were printed a sizeable minority of books that continued to be opened by the traditional methods." (78)

simple label-title more common than that + woodcut; only 1/5 of label-title books have title-cut, and those were mostly printed after 1490, more common in vernacular languages (those in Latin were usually schoolbooks)

early example: Heinrich Knoblochtzer's 2nd edition of Jacobus de Cessolis, De ludo scachorum (Strassburg, 1483) (81-2)

printer Gerard Leeu used woodcuts regularly (Antwerp)

Bernardus Claravallensis, Sermones de tempore et de sanctus (1484-5) -- woodcut used to mark section beginnings

Epistole et evangelii (Florence, Lorenzo Morgiani and Johannes Petri for Piero Pacini, 1495): evangelists are passe-partout

Accipies woodcut, commonly used in schoolbooks -- master and pupils

The growth of information on the title-page

Printer's mark -- extension of other forms of merchants marks -- first added to end of book, close to colophons

Rudolph Hirsch argues printers in France were first to advertise through title pages (95)

"Rare to find dates on title-pages during the incunable period and early sixteenth century" (97); dates mostly remained on colophon if they appeared at all; over 40% by end of incunable period still had dates and printers printed nowhere

Some title pages are contents lists

"The common medieval practice of gathering several texts together into a composite volume (or Sammelband) may have been gone hand in hand with the practice of leaving physical volumes without collective titles and also without title-pages. Conversely once a volume bears a title-page there must be some reluctance to include in it material that is not alluded to." (101)

Raises question about different between text and book -- "Did the growth of the title-page play a role in our expectation that a text is an entity and the rule that one book equals one text?" (102)

"Once a book's title developed beyond the simplicity of the label-title information (author and title) it began to elaborate on the text's nature in various ways, focusing on the content, the author, or the preparation and production of the book." (105)

Title-page information: claims of diligent correction and editing; claims of author's superiority or excellence (106)

The woodcut title-page

"Intaglio methods, i.e. Early copper engraving, were rarely used for book illustration of any kind in the incunable period." (109)

Purely xylographic title pages are fairly rare, use dispersed

Aesthetic advantages; could make the title bigger than type alone (no wooden display types); gothic font

Borders move to the title-page

"Basically the border on the title-page is a migrant from the first page of text, and there are a few instances when a border designed for a text-page is re-used as a title-border" (123)

fashion for woodcut title-borders set in from 1510

"There as no model for the title-page in the manuscript. Neither the information that would come to characterize the title-page, nor the method of decoration, were provided as readily usable models for the layout that was to develop for the title-page. To a large extent it was a matter of space, and how it was to be filled. Titles are too short to fill the space of the page, or at least to fill it in the way that had been common in the manuscript period." (124)

four-sided border "could only serve a limited range of page sizes, and most are found deployed in only one format, folio, quarto or octavo" (127)

in 1470s, Johan Bamler of Augsburg "apparently experimented with stamping borders on to the margins of the pages after the text had been printed" (128) -- locus though was Venice; "These stamped borders were produced for and executed not in the printers' workshops, but in those of the illuminators, in order to aid their hand work." (129)

figure 8.5, example of text border migrating to title page

borders added to borders for different formats

"The value of a decorative feature in attracting purchasers can only be speculatively proposed, but other motives are even harder to find." (142)


"How the method of opening changed from announcing the text to announcing the production of the text was a matter of trial and error, although even that suggests a level of deliberation and consciousness that was probably not the case. Printers were craftsmen who 'designed' at the bench and in the forme. For this new page which had no model they borrowed elements used elsewhere in the book long before any attempt was made to design it." (143)

lots of borrowing -- "Borrowing is a form of re-using materials, and re-usability was the foundation of the new technology of printing from metal types. The economics of book production by metal types was completely dependent on building pages, and then building new pages from the same materials. Perhaps it is signfiicant that when woodcuts were specially designed for title-pages, one of the first was for the publishing world's steadiest of all sellers, the school textbook." (144)

1470s: appearance of label-title

1480s: woodcut images and printer's marks

1490s: range of experiments, including xylographic title and title border

"An interesting point about the label-title is that it was not borrowed from elsewhere in the book; it was added by the printer in a modest form, presumably for his own purposes." (145)