The Start of Bohemian Watermark Research in the RISM Working Group in Prague (National Library of the Czech Republic)

This report has come to us from Eliška Šedivá, RISM Czech Republic:


A year ago we started to develop a proper and systematic method for researching watermarks as an important indication of the provenance and time determination of musical sources. Furthermore, we believe that correct watermark description and identification can be very useful not only for individual scholars in concrete research, but also for us during the cataloging and evaluation of music collections. This way we can find lots of connections between particular documents in one music collection or between different collections in our country. Thanks to the complete works by František Zuman, who dealt with the history of Bohemian paper mills very intensively (see Zuman* in the RISM bibliographic catalog), we can identify and locate the watermarks from our sources.

We have started gathering images and data from the music collections that we are cataloging or reviewing now: CZ-Pu: Koleč church, Řetová church, Strachota Family from the Panenský Týnec, Hübner Family from the Dlouhý Most; CZ-Pnm: Želiv monastery, Clam-Gallas Family from the Frýdlant, Brothers Hospitallers in Kuks.

We turned to RISM and the multimedia database in Kallisto, which makes it possible to insert pictures (JPG) and descriptions. The form in the multimedia template can be used as the "watermark record," which can be connected with whatever record in RISM. We are collecting data from several sources at this point and building an internal database of Bohemian watermarks, which is open to all catalogers of RISM. We are publishing several of our findings immediately in the online catalog, such as remarks about the paper mill, paper maker, etc.

We use a drawing of the watermark, not a photo, which is unique for each source. This drawing depicts the watermark figure, initials, lettering, or a combination thereof in its complete form with utmost attention to detail. In addition, the watermark is situated within its context on the sheet and is measured. It is a "figure" (Musterbild). Then we look for more examples with other dates.

To date, we have saved 670 drawings. You can browse our watermark collection by different criteria: watermark figure (or its parts), paper mill, paper maker, library sigla, provenance, and dates. You can see the entire current collection by searching in the multimedia database for CZ* in the field "Belonging to group." You can also find it in the online catalog (such as RISM ID no. 551001058, an example from the Želiv collection, where there are also apparent connections between the paper and specific copyists. You will be able to see this soon in a thematic catalog that is currently in preparation). We would like to give a big thanks to RISM, which makes this possible and offers all of our colleagues our current findings in the multimedia database!

Simultaneously we are drawing up a Bohemian paper makers vocabulary, where we have information that we collected from the literature (particularly Zuman's studies) and from the sources we have explored. It now contains ca. 500 Bohemian paper makers from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries with bibliographic citations, links to the RISM multimedia database, and a couple of indexes. We would like to start up online access to this vocabulary soon and continuously add to it. The next phase of our project will be the compilation of a chronology of each watermark figure in a specific paper mill in the Bohemian watermark catalog. It would be an important tool for musicological research.

Photo: Watermark of a shield (crowned) with crosier and patriarchal cross (crossed), above mitre] | CP (no. 1) (RISM ID no. 551001058)



Category: New at RISM

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