September 05, 2012

Resources for the study of watermarks

by Evyn Kropf

Catalogues of watermarks are available in print and online. Printed catalogues are typically arranged by watermark type and provide reproductions along with details on the paper in which that watermark was found - mainly date and place of origin. Online catalogues / databases allow searching by chief type / motif and ancillary motif (via primary and secondary descriptors), date, place of origin, etc. A reproduction of the watermark with dimensions and reference details is typically provided. It is important to recognize that a particular vocabulary is used for watermark type / motif descriptors (often in multiple languages).

Though immense in terms of the scholarly contribution they represent, watermark catalogues are of course limited in scope. Early catalogues relied on tracings, which can be inexact or less detailed than the actual watermark. The vast majority of watermarks are not yet represented in the catalogues and it is exceedingly rare to find a specific match with a watermark encountered in a book or document under study. However, similar watermarks will often be found. Referencing these similar watermarks (via citation and type) is often more informative than a verbal description.

All in all, a closely similar (in terms of motifs, dimensions, mould marking measurements, etc.) watermark may have been produced in the same geographical region at roughly the same time as the recorded watermark. However, this evidence of “similitude” cannot date a manuscript with precision and the uncertainty should be acknowledged.

Essential Resources

Babinger, Franz. “Papierhandel und Papierbereitung in der Levante.” Wochenblatt für Papierfabrikation LXII, no. 52 (1931): 1215-1219

Briquet, Charles-Moïse. Les filigranes. Dictionnaire historique des marques du papier dès leur apparition vers 1282 jusq'en 1600. 2nd ed. Leipzig: K.W. Hiersemann, 1923.

-----. Les filigranes. Dictionnaire historique des marques du papier dès leur apparition vers 1282 jusq'en 1600 [par], a facsimile of the 1907 ed. with supplementary material contributed by a number of scholars. Ed. Allan Stevenson. Amsterdam: Paper Publications Society, 1968.
[Special Collections Reference Collection | Z 237 .B86 1968 v.1-4]

Bull’s Head and Mermaid: The History of Paper and Watermarks from the Middle Ages to the Modern Period. Booklet and catalogue of the exhibition presented by the Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart and the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Kommission für Schrift- und Buchwesen des Mittelalters, Vienna. Stuttgart: Landesarchiv Baden Württemberg and Vienna, 2009.

Churchill, William A. Watermarks in paper in Holland, England, France etc. in the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries and their interconnection. Amsterdam: Menno Hertzberger & Co., 1935.
[Z 237 .C56 1967]

Eineder, Georg. The ancient paper-mills of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and their watermarks. Hilversum, Holland: Paper Publications Society, 1960.
[SPEC TS 1080 .M82 v.8]

Gaudriault, Raymond. Filigranes et autres caractéristiques de papiers fabriqués en France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles. Paris: CNRS editions, 1995.

Gravell, Thomas and George Miller. A catalogue of foreign watermarks found on paper used in America, 1700-1835. New York: Garland Pub., 1983.

Heawood, Edward. Watermarks mainly of the 17th and 18th centuries. Hilversum: The Paper Publications Society, 1950 (Monumenta Chartae Papyraceae, vol. I)
[Special Collections - General and Rare | Z 237 .H461]

[Klepikov, Sokrat Aleksandrovich]Клепиков, С.А. Филиграни и штемпели на бумаге русского и иностранного производства XVII-XX вв [= Watermarks and stamps in paper of Russian and foreign production of the XVII-XX centuries]. Москва: Изд-во Всесоюзной Книжной палаты, 1959.
[Buhr Shelving Facility Z 237 .K64]
Available online at
Table of stamps

Labarre, E J. Dictionary and encyclopaedia of paper and paper-making with equivalents of the technical terms in French, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish & Swedish. Amsterdam, Swets & Zeitlinger, 1952.
[Special Collections - Reference Collection | TS 1085 .L13 1952]

Likhachev’s watermarks: An English-language version. J.S.G. Simmons and Bé Van Ginneken-Van de Kasteele, Eds. Amsterdam, Holland: The Paper Publications Society, 1994. (2 volumes)

Nikolaev, Vsevolod. Watermarks of the mediaeval Ottoman documents in Bulgarian libraries. In Watermarks of the Ottoman Empire, volume 1. Sofia: Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1954.

Piccard, Gerhard. Die Wasserzeichenkartei Piccard im Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart: Findbücher I-XV. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1961-1987.

Regourd, Anne. Catalogue cumulé des bibliothèques de manuscrits de Zabid. Fascicule 1, Les papiers filigranés. Sanaa: Centre français d'archeologie et de sciences sociales de Sanaa, 2008.

Valls i Subirà, Oriol. Paper and watermarks in Catalonia [= El papel y sus filigranas en Catalunya]. Edited and translated by J. S. G. Simmons and B. J. van Ginneken-van de Kasteele. Amsterdam, Paper Publications Society (Labarre Foundation), 1970. Monumenta chartae papyraceae historiam illustrantia v. 12 [Special Collections - General and Rare TS 1080 .M82 v.12]

Velkov, Asparouh. Les filigranes dans les documents ottomans: divers types d’images. Sofia: Éditions "Texte - A. Trayanov", 2005.
[GRAD Z 237 .V4413 2005]

Walz, Terence. "The Paper trade of Egypt and the Sudan in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and its re-export to the Bilad as-Sudan." In The Trans-Saharan book trade: manuscript culture, Arabic literacy, and intellectual history in Muslim Africa, eds. Graziano Krätli and Ghislaine Lydon (Leiden : Brill, 2011): 73-108.

Wiesmüller, Beate. The Watermarks from the Refaiya-Library trans. Steven Black.

Zonghi, Aurelio et al. Zonghi’s watermarks. Monumenta Chartae Papyraceae, vol. I. Hilversum: Paper Publications Society, 1953. [Special Collections - General and Rare TS 1080 .M82 v.3]

[three crescents watermark]

Velkov, Asparoukh and Stephane Andreev. Filigranes dans les documents ottomans. I Trois croissants [= Водни знаци в Османотурските документи. I Три луни]. Sofia: Bibliotheque Nationale "Cyrille et Methode" Comission Archeographique Bulgare Section Orientale, 1983.
[Hatcher Graduate Z237 .V441 1983]

[crown-star-crescent watermark]

Mošin, Vladimir and M. Grozdanovic-Pajié. “Das Wasserzeichen ‘Krone mit Stern und Halbmond.’” Papiergeschichte 13 (1963): 44-52.

Andreev, Stefan. Les filigranes dans les documents ottomans. Couronne. Sofia: "Texte - Asparouh Trayanov," 2007.

[anchor watermark]

Mošin, Vladimir. Anchor watermarks. Amsterdam: Paper Publications Society (Labarre Foundation), 1973.
[Special Collections - General and Rare | TS 1080 .M82 v.13]

Online Resources

Briquet Online

Piccard watermark collection (Wasserzeichensammlung Piccard)

PPO - Piccard Print Online

The Thomas L. Gravell Watermark Archive

Watermark Database of the Dutch University Institute for Art History(NIKI)

WZMA (Wasserzeichen des Mittelalters)

Watermarks in Incunabula Printed in the Low Countries (WILC)

Watermarks in Incunabula Printed in España (WIES)

Wasserzeichen Informationssystem
"Das vom 1.2.2010 bis 31.1.2012 geförderte DFG-Projekt hat den Aufbau einer gemeinsamen Datenbank für Wasserzeichen und deren Beschreibungen für die DFG-Handschriftenzentren zum Ziel. Die Bestimmung von Papierwasserzeichen gehört zu den Grundlagen der Handschriftenkunde und liefert wichtige Anhaltspunkte für ihre Datierung und ihren Aufbau. Das System standardisiert den Aufbau und die Verwaltung einer digitalen Wasserzeichensammlung und macht diese über einen zentralen Zugang im Internet für die Wissenschaft nutzbar."

Bernstein portal
"This website is about paper, paper expertise, and history of paper. It provides resources in the following main application areas: historical research on paper in Europe, expertise of documents made of paper, measurement of structural characteristics of papers, technical support for the creation of new paper databases, introduction to digital paper studies."

International Association of Paper Historians (IPH) site
News, conference proceedings, the periodical IPH Paper History, Questions&Answers for collaborative identification of watermarks.

Posted by ekropf at September 5, 2012 05:29 PM


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