6554Re: marbling database; what's in a name?
- Mar 2, 2012Sorry to butt in again, but to me terminology is the most important point of all the theoretical points decorated paper has in store for us; and this is definitely about all decorated papers, not just about marbled paper as a sub group.
Without a recognised terminoloy we can just as well stop talking on the scientific level because because different languages don't exactly further understanding. Nothing against our own pet names, we all have them, but they reach their limit when it's about research and communication.
The terminology of anything that's not defined like 1+1=2, e.g. decorated paper, needs to stand on firm feet and must be suitable not just for the few dozen specialists world wide but for the thousands interested in the subject. Part of it is about 'right' or 'wrong' (there simply is no such thing as paste marbled paper), part of it is about scientific definitions ('what is decorated paper?'), part of it is about practicability ('marbled paper' may not be the correct technical or linguistic term but nevertheless it's the term everyone has been using for centuries), and there are more parts I won't sum up here.
As it is a matter of course that many of the techniques used in paper decoration cannot be identified with reasonable certainty by those not continually and professionally occupied with them, there needs to be a method to help them along. This, so we found in the study group decorated paper at the German National Library, would be achieved to the best of results by relying on the fact that everyone has two eyes and only needs to be taught how to make use of them ('visual training').
In 2009, I formed a small team and we set to work. The team formulated definitions, accompanied them by photos, made a guide book from it. We made use of the old and well established terms as much as possible, avoided all commercial names, defined the basis our patterns and techniques stand on, and gave hints about how to deal with doubt. One main subject was: avoid to create more confusion; and it just works fine.
There are many copies in the Americas (Yehuda, I recommend you talk to Ido, he has one) and even more across Europe. The system is used widely in European libraries, collections and museums.
There is still much to do. Just the thought of the industrially made papers of 1840 to today makes me feel faint. But the older sorts (hand made and manufactory made) can easily be dealt with in that way. Deutsches Museum Munich has 15'000 items from very old to about 1920/1930. All but 70 or so could be placed.
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