[Table of Contents] [Search]


[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [BKARTS] A Signature by any other name



Cheryl:

Signatures originated as unique marks that aided in the collaction of
book contents in preparation for binding.

The following is from John Feather's "Dictionary of Book History" (1986)

Signature
Printer's term, used also by bibliographers. The signature, printed in the 
direction line, is a guide to the binder which enables him to fold, gather and 
collate the sheets in correct sequence. The normal form of a signature was a 
letter on the first recto of the gathering, with each succeeding recto having 
the letter and a number, beginning with 2 on the second leaf. Until the end of 
the eighteenth century the usual practice was to sign each recto up to and 
including the first leaf after the centre-fold of the gathering. Although 
sig­natures were usually alphabetic, numbers were sometimes used, and, in the 
fifteenth century, sequences of symbols such as * ,)(, and so on are found. In 
the latter case, the printer usually added a register as a further guide to the 
binder. After about 1800, numerical signatures became common, but they gradually 
died out when the binding processes were mechanised and are rarely seen today.

I believe it evolved from the earlier practice of using catchwords for similar 
purposes.

Catchword
The catchword, printed at the right-hand end of the direction line, reproduces 
the first word of the following page. It was intended as a guide to the binder 
to ensure that the sheet was properly folded, and that the folded sheets were 
collated in the correct order. Catchwords are found in medieval manuscripts, and 
were imitated thence by the early printers. In Italy in the fifteenth century, 
where they were first used in print, catchwords are normally found only on the 
last leaf of the gathering, but elsewhere in Europe, except in France, they were 
normally printed on every page. There are, however, some national and local 
variations, which can assist the biblio­grapher in locating books whose place of 
origin is unknown. Catchwords were in use until the end of the eighteenth 
century, but thereafter their use decreased, and they had virtually vanished by 
c. 1850.

Often, In hand-collated manufactured books, signature marks (short heavy lines) 
are printed in sequence outside the fold of each section, from the top to the 
bottom of the book.




Alan Shalette


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Cheryl Prose" <Profcnc@xxxxxxx>
To: <BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Monday, January 15, 2007 6:35 AM
Subject: A Signature by any other name


|
| In a book class this week, the following question was raised:
| Why is a signature called a signature?
| Anyone have an answer?
|
| Thanks.
| CHERYL
|
| ************************************** See what's free at http://www.aol.com.
|
|       ***********************************************
|        The Bonefolder, Vol. 3, No. 2, Spring 2007
|     Now Online @ <http://www.philobiblon.com/bonefolder>
|
|   Visit "The Book of Origins: A survey of American Fine Binding"
|        Online exhibit and catalog order form at
|    <http://library.syr.edu/digital/exhibits/b/bookoforigins/>
|
|       For all your subscription questions, go to the
|           Book_Arts-L FAQ and Archive.
|     See <http://www.philobiblon.com> for full information
|       ***********************************************
|
| 

             ***********************************************
               The Bonefolder, Vol. 3, No. 2, Spring 2007
          Now Online @ <http://www.philobiblon.com/bonefolder>
                                    
     Visit "The Book of Origins: A survey of American Fine Binding"
                Online exhibit and catalog order form at
       <http://library.syr.edu/digital/exhibits/b/bookoforigins/>
                                    
             For all your subscription questions, go to the
                      Book_Arts-L FAQ and Archive.
          See <http://www.philobiblon.com> for full information
             ***********************************************


[Subject index] [Index for current month] [Table of Contents] [Search]