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After one has thought about these questions of classification, the next step is to consider what pieces of information regarding non-letterpress material ought to be recorded in a descriptive bibliography and where


Page 27
and how they should be incorporated into an individual description. In some respects these matters take care of themselves, if one has a thorough grasp of bibliographical classification and is familiar with the standard approaches to the description of other elements of books, such as type and paper (since those methods can easily be adapted to the description of non-letterpress material). There is some value, nevertheless, in taking up the implications of certain decisions about the form and content of the description of non-letterpress material, especially since such material has not been given very extensive coverage in discussions of bibliographical description. Indeed, Greg said in 1932 that book illustration is "a subject whose appeal or relevance lies primarily in the realm of graphic art and not of bibliography" and that engravings, "separately printed and stuck into otherwise already complete books, show the minimum of relevance to their surroundings."[35] These remarks, it must be recognized, actually occur in a passage arguing that bibliographers should give attention to illustrations: even though such work may contribute "mainly to the history of art," it is also "work essential to booklore, work that can be justified on the most rigid bibliographical grounds." Yet the textual orientation of Greg's approach to description is evident: although the connection of some illustrations with books "may be of the most superficial and fortuitous character," others (especially in "books of a technical character") "may be said to form an integral part of the text," and in any case illustrations may provide evidence relevant to "the history of the transmission of the text." The central point called for by Greg's discussion—but a point that does not emerge clearly from it—is that the descriptive bibliographer's task is to describe books as published entities and that illustrations, when included in books, are naturally part of what the bibliographer must describe; the degree of connection between the illustrations and the text is irrelevant. Greg comes close to making this point when he says that illustration "claims the attention of bibliographers merely on the ground that these products of art happen to be found in books"; but his inclusion of "merely" in the sentence is revealing. Some people will be less—and others more—interested in the art than in the text, but both are parts of the physical object to be described. The books that Greg was principally concerned with did not require him to consider the problem of inserted plates in much detail, and little is said about them in his comprehensive (and major) statement on descriptive bibliography occupying


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most of the fourth volume (1959) of A Bibliography of the English Printed Drama to the Restoration.[36]

J. D. Cowley, in Bibliographical Description and Cataloguing (1939), provides a brief section on "Plates and Insets" (pp. 105-106), which begins rather shakily but recovers in the second of these sentences: "Typographically, I suppose, books may be held to be complete without any plates that they may be intended to have when they are published, because the plates are printed separately and are not included in the signed gatherings. But since in bibliography we are describing books as they were published, we must account for the plates in the technical note." His view is that they should not be included in the formulaic signature collation but should be entered in the form of a brief register (e.g., "plates, Front., I-VI") following the pagination statement, with a description "in a separate paragraph dealing with illustrations or in the analysis of the contents." Although he does not recommend giving the location of plates (normally, at least before the nineteenth century, "it is practically impossible to determine the exact position which any particular plate or inset was intended to occupy"), he suggests, somewhat inconsistently, that inserted maps, tables, and the like, not part of a regular sequence of plates, be specified by location ("plates [6]; inset tables following pp. 56, 72, 104").[37]

Ten years later Fredson Bowers, in Principles of Bibliographical Description (1949), also devoted very brief space to engraved title pages and plates (see especially pp. 287-289 and 446), but what he says is characteristically incisive and logical and provides a sound basis to build on. His recommendations are essentially the same as Cowley's, except that he stipulates the recording of the positions of plates—as in "plates [3] (opp. sigs. C4v, F1, G4v)"—using signature or page references to the facing pages.[38] But he provides a more thoroughly reasoned statement of the desirability of limiting the signature collation to material that went through the printing press and of recording non-letterpress insertions separately. There is no question that signature collations, which can


Page 29
become complicated enough when there are letterpress insertions to account for, are made less easily usable by the inclusion of other kinds of insertions as well.[39] Bowers has argued this position so effectively (pp. 198-201) that it should now be regarded as conclusively established. The place for a register of plate numbers (or an indication of the number of plates, if unnumbered) is—he (like Cowley) believes—at the end of the register of pagination; a description of the plates can occupy a separate later paragraph, although Bowers would make an exception for frontispieces and engraved title leaves and would include them in the contents paragraph (p. 289). Bowers's treatment of engraved material recognizes its importance: he never implies that it is less deserving of the bibliographer's attention than the letterpress. The brevity of his discussion of this subject—the absence of the wealth of detail that he provides for other parts of the description—reflects his experience (and the tradition of bibliography out of which his work grew), which largely involves books more noteworthy for their verbal content than for their illustrations and in fact containing relatively few illustrations.

The most thorough contributions to the question of the bibliographical study of inserted plates have emerged, not surprisingly, from the examination of botanical books. Unlike atlases and music books, in which engraved leaves often form a solid block of material without intervening letterpress leaves, botanical books consist of engravings inserted into letterpress gatherings often enough to make the problem of their relationship a pressing one; and unlike literary books, in which illustrations are often regarded as serving only a decorative function, botanical books normally contain illustrations that are essential parts of what the works as a whole are intended to convey. Gordon Dunthorne is generally recognized as a pioneer in the bibliographical treatment of plates in his Flower and Fruit Prints of the 18th and Early 19th Centuries (1938). He was writing before Cowley and Bowers, of course, and his work now seems rather rudimentary, although many more recent bibliographies have not been as detailed in their handling of plates. What he did recognize was the value of noting plate marks, imprints, and watermarks, and he attempted to work out a concise method for recording them (using abbreviations such as TC for "top center" to indicate positions on the plate). A more significant landmark is Allan Stevenson's work in the second volume (1961) of the Catalogue of Botanical Books in the Collection of Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt. The remarkable introduction to that volume, which in explaining the methods employed becomes a 65-page exposition of the fundamentals of descriptive bibliography, offers


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the most extended discussion of the formal description of plates yet available (pp. clxvi—clxxvi). It agrees with Bowers in excluding plates from the signature collation but extends the point by objecting to tacking a register of plate numbers on to the end of the pagination statement. Stevenson argues instead that there should be a separate collation of plates (parallel to the collation of printed sheets), accompanied by descriptions of the plates and detailed plate lists (which would be the counterpart to the contents paragraph for the letterpress material).[40] He devotes his longest discussion to the plate lists, which are essentially lists of the botanical names for the plants depicted: his procedure is to quote the polynomials or binomials from the plates and then to append in brackets any corrections or modern reductions, sometimes citing authorities and intermediate forms. This part of Stevenson's work clearly required extensive research,[41] and it reflects the importance of the plates to botanists as evidence in questions concerning priority of nomenclature. Although the specific problems would be different in other fields, the kind of attention given here to the content of the plates is exemplary.[42] More recently the field has been given yet another advance in an excellent paper read before the April 1975 meeting of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History by Gavin D. R. Bridson.[43] The point of view underlying the paper is summed up in Bridson's statement that "the aim should be to record and describe plates with the same degree of precision already accorded to letterpress aspects of the book" (pp. 471-472); he quotes some of Bowers's remarks on the need to go beyond description to analysis and then calls for "the same analytical approach" to be applied to plates (p. 473). Bridson praises Stevenson's work but surpasses Stevenson in the demands he makes on bibliographers; his paper is in effect a supplement to Stevenson, taking up the aspects of plates that Stevenson enumerates for description and outlining further complications connected with them. He convincingly shows why bibliographers need to have a thorough understanding of graphic processes (more than just the ability to identify the various media) and how a detailed description, as with letterpress, serves to facilitate further discovery.


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Anyone undertaking to describe a book with plates should give thought to Bridson's remarks.

The principal issues that emerge from these discussions can best be considered in two categories: those that have to do with the actual description of the non-letterpress material and those concerned with how to incorporate those descriptive details into the formal description of the entire book. The former are the more significant, because they are substantive, but the latter are not without substantive implications. Certain decisions about the substance of a description, of course, may obviate certain questions of form: if, for instance, the treatment of plates is reduced to the simple statement that there are so many engravings after paintings by a particular artist and so many after paintings by another, the question whether the information about plates should be presented all at once or distributed among the paragraphs of the description does not arise. And such brief statements may be regarded as appropriate on certain occasions. As with the other elements in a description, various levels of detail may be adopted, depending on the nature of the material and the primary purpose that the bibliography or catalogue is intended to serve.[44] The parts should normally be kept in proportion to one another, and if the letterpress is given abbreviated treatment, the plates should probably receive similar treatment. If the plates are the principal interest of the volumes and if the audience for the bibliography consists largely of art historians, there is naturally good reason to go into some detail about the plates; but in that case one should usually provide more information about the letterpress as well, recognizing that evidence from the one, as part of a combined object, may be relevant to interpreting evidence from the other. There is no doubt about the value to historical scholarship of bibliographies that describe rather than merely identify, and wherever possible descriptions should be conceived on a scale that will allow the treatment of plates to include the kinds of details to be enumerated below. In any case the cardinal rule, exemplified in Bridson's paper, is that descriptive bibliography cannot logically slight any element that goes to make up the finished book, and plates must be dealt with as fully as letterpress.

Stevenson designates four groups of "the main identifying and descriptive details" to be recorded in his plate descriptions: "1) designation of type of plate and range of subjects; 2) titles, artist signatures, imprints; 3) sizes of typical plates, in inches and tenths; 4) position of


Page 32
plates" (p. clxxi). We may postpone consideration of the positions of plates, for that is a separate matter: it has to do with the physical relationship of the plates to the letterpress, whereas the other items relate strictly to the plates themselves (and would apply as much to the plates as separate items as they do to the plates as parts of books). Bowers's account of what is called for in describing plates in nineteenth- and twentieth-century books is similar: in addition to transcribing the lettering, "The analysis should state the method by which the plate was made and printed, and the color of the ink, together with the medium of the original. When the letterpress [or the other transcribed lettering] does not make the subject of the illustration clear, a brief account may be given"—"but," he adds, "it is impossible to describe a plate in sufficient detail to provide a basis for the detection of unknown 'states'" (p. 446). It is not always possible to do this for letterpress either: in both cases one cannot know whether the details chosen for inclusion will be those that vary in unexamined copies. But one will have looked at multiple copies of the books to be described, and one can report on variations discovered in them, both in the letterpress and in the plates. Bibliographers should of course have photocopies of the plates with them when they examine copies of the books at different locations (and ideally should compare copies on the Hinman Collator); in their published bibliographies they should always cite references to published reproductions and indeed should include as many reproductions as possible. Their aim should be—for plates as well as for letterpress—to provide those details that their specialized knowledge (developed from their examination of numerous copies) tells them will be most useful both as a historical record and as a means of uncovering further variations.[45] Many of the details listed by Stevenson and Bowers (e.g., transcribing titles and imprints, providing measurements) are similar to ones that would be given for letterpress material; and the general procedure should be to furnish for non-letterpress material the same categories of information provided for letterpress material, or corresponding categories when the match is not exact. To the details mentioned above, therefore, should be added some comment on the typography or lettering and on the paper. Any satisfying approach to the description of non-letterpress material must be amenable to handling not only interspersed plates but whole sections of books—such as multi-plate sequences devoted to musical compositions, each perhaps with its own title page. Such groups of plates,


Page 33
with consecutive "pages" or leaves, resemble in some respects sequences of letterpress text pages, and such symmetry as can exist in the treatment of the two is desirable.

Taking all these considerations into account, I would suggest the following as the categories of information to be provided in a detailed description of non-letterpress material in books. They need not be presented in this order or be separated into these nine units; and although the wording here applies most directly to individual illustrative plates, this outline can, I think, be readily adjusted to accommodate other kinds of non-letterpress material:

(1) The title, caption, epigraph, quotation, or other wording meant to identify, describe, or interpret the plate. This wording should be set forth in quasi-facsimile transcription, and a note should indicate what parts of it, if any, are in letterpress. For a book that contains a list of plates, any discrepancies between the wording on the plates and the wording of the citations in the list should be specified, as Bowers points out. When plates do not have titles or other descriptive wording, and often when they do, the bibliographer may well supply brief descriptions of the content of the plates.[46]

(2) The medium and process employed. As Bridson notes, one should attempt to go beyond such simple designations of medium as "engraving," "etching," and "lithograph" to specify the precise process used.[47] Analytical bibliography applied to plates, just as when it is applied to letterpress material, requires a detailed knowledge of the technical processes involved; without that knowledge recognition of variants and reconstruction of the history of individual plates are likely to be less accurate.


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(3) Artists' names. Any artists' names that appear on the plate should be transcribed exactly as they appear. Although Stevenson quotes artists' and engravers' names in "an early or dominant form," with "slight variation" indicated by a superscript "±" (p. clxxi), important evidence may be thus concealed, and the names should always be "given verbatim, misspellings included," as Bridson says (p. 474). One should attempt to ascertain the names of the artist and the engraver when they do not appear, as well as the medium of the original work.

(4) Imprint. Any printers' or publishers' imprints should be recorded in quasi-facsimile transcription, and when they do not appear an effort should be made to establish the name of the printer (and of the publisher if the plate was also made available separately from the book that provides the occasion for the description). Small details in an imprint may of course be an important clue for dating. One should be particularly cautious in accepting dates printed from copper or stone (cf. Bridson, p. 475).

(5) Dimensions. Depending on the period of the book, something will have been said elsewhere in the description about the size of the leaves of the book or of the sheets used for printing. The point here is to indicate the size of the illustration and of the copperplate or other surface if its mark is present. Stevenson advocates recording plate marks (p. clxxi), whereas Bowers gives priority to the dimensions of the engraved surface (p. 179), although he suggests that both measurements be provided (with the vertical dimension of the engraved surface further subdivided according to what part is illustration and what part lettering). Both are indeed important, and Bridson further shows (p. 474) the usefulness (for distinguishing similar engravings) of noting the relative position of the engraved surface on the plate. Thus to Bowers's example for an engraved title—"plate mark 392 x 198 mm.; engr. tit. with lettering 223(261) x 156 mm." (p. 179)—one should add an indication of the distances to the edge of the plate on each side of the latter dimensions. One might even decide to combine all these figures in the form "60|223(261)| 71 x 15|156|27 mm.," where the figures to the left and right of the vertical lines are the distances to the edge of the plate (above and below, respectively, for the vertical measurement, and left and right for the horizontal). In addition to furnishing these figures, one should also describe the impression made by the edge of the plate, following Bridson's suggestion that it may be helpful to know whether the plate has "a plain or a bevelled edge or square or rounded corners" (p. 474).

(6) Typography or lettering. Any letterpress typography should be described, as one would describe any other typography in the volume,


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and lettering on the plate should be characterized, noting the features that are examined in classifying type or script.[48]

(7) Color. Indication should be made of whether the illustration is color-printed or hand-colored (that is, hand-colored, before publication, for the whole edition or some part of it, as opposed to the individual hand-coloring that might occur after publication), and the color, or prominent colors, identified.[49] If important variations in color are discovered through the examination of multiple copies, they should be specified.[50]

(8) Paper. The paper on which the non-letterpress material is printed, generally different from the paper for the letterpress, similarly can offer important evidence for dating and should be recorded in the same way that the paper constituting the letterpress sheets is recorded.[51]

(9) Bibliographical classification. Some remarks should be added that make clear the status of the plate as an independent entity. If, for example, no variations exist among copies of the plate as they are found within copies of the printing or issue of the book to be described, then strictly speaking perhaps no further comment is required. But if all those copies of the plate are in fact part of the second issue of the plate as separately published, that piece of information is a relevant addition to the description of the plate, even though it has not bearing on the classification of the book as a whole. If, on the other hand, copies of the plate do vary among copies of the printing or issue of the book, the variation would presumably already have been mentioned under one of the headings listed above. The variation, however, could result only in states of the plate, as far as the book is concerned; but if it happened that the variant plates actually constituted two issues as separately published, that fact could be reported here.

Descriptions on this level will not always be regarded as feasible: even Allan Stevenson normally listed plates selectively.[52] But when other aspects of a book are to receive detailed treatment, there is no justification


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for failing to accord the non-letterpress elements a correspondingly detailed treatment. The space required, when a book has numerous plates, is considerable, but a detailed contents paragraph for a complicated book, with quasi-facsimile transcriptions included in it, can also be formidable; in neither case, however, can the value of the detailed record, or the logic of including it in a description, really be questioned. And the space involved is not as great as this enumeration perhaps suggests, for in most books a certain number of details will be the same for all, or nearly all, the plates and need not be repeated each time. For that reason Dunthorne and Stevenson, for example, first report various characteristics that apply to all or most of the plates in a volume and then list the titles of the individual plates. But the alternative approach of conceiving of the record as a list of plates with descriptive details contained in each entry does not mean that recurring details have to be set forth time after time. The particular arrangement will vary with the nature of the material; the listing above—let me repeat—is meant only to suggest the details to be covered, not a necessary order. Those dealing with other kinds of non-letterpress material than individual plates may find that several of these items coalesce. Multi-plate pieces of music, for instance, may have their own engraved title pages, transcription of which may automatically take care of items 1, 3, and 4 above. The form the description takes is not as crucial as the recognition that these categories of detail contribute directly to printing and publishing history and therefore to the history of the transmission of information in whatever field the books are concerned with.

In addition to the description of the plates (or other materials) themselves, there is the question of recording their positions in the books in which they occur. Some difference of opinion has existed on this matter. Whereas Bowers takes it as a matter of course that plates and insets have "their positions noted in the description" (p. 288), Stevenson (despite his listing of "position of plates" as one of four items to be included in descriptions) remarks in an often cited (and misused)[53] statement:

As for the position of plates within books I have taken the view that this matters less than many have supposed. Luckily I have been usually concerned with one copy, for, when I have compared this with others, I have found such differences, minute and immense, as would make particularization for ten copies impossible. The "ideal copy" is a will-o'-the-wisp. Some books regularly present their plates with little variation. Others vary the order greatly; use this or that plate as a frontispiece; or face plates indiscriminately; and occasionally a binder gets one in upside down. And, as at the same time some plates vary in their states and in the stocks of paper they


Page 37
are printed upon, and some were reprinted after their imprint-dates or the title-date of the book, the permutations and combinations become dizzying for any dull bibliographer. Thus I have not always indicated the exact position and orientation of plates. (p. clxxii)
This is one of Stevenson's less happy passages, and several points require comment. He seems to conceive of the concept of ideal copy as denoting a standard of correctness that the publisher wished to achieve rather than as a historical concept referring to what the publisher in fact did achieve. Ideal copy is meant to distinguish the form or forms of a book as released to the public from the defective or altered forms in which one may encounter individual copies as a result of what has happened to those copies since publication.[54] The bibliographer, as a historian of printing and publishing, is interested in establishing what forms the publisher released and does not wish to record as part of a description variations that result from accidental or intentional alterations inflicted upon copies during the course of their separate post-publication histories. Thus in the face of a "dizzying" array of variations among copies in the placement of plates, or in their states, one cannot simply throw up one's hands but must instead attempt to ascertain, through an analysis of all available evidence, the nature and causes of the variations. If there is reason to believe that some or all of the variations, however numerous, represent forms of the book as published, then they are encompassed by ideal copy and must be described; any variations produced by the decisions of individual binders or owners would not be recorded. Distinguishing between these situations is frequently a difficult task for books not released in publishers' bindings; in many cases, of course, the plates were simply made available as a group, but sometimes with printed directions to the binder or with indications of position on the plates themselves. In any case, the point that affects bibliographical treatment is not how many permutations and combinations there are but who was responsible for them. Furthermore, Stevenson's remark that he was lucky in being concerned with only one copy of most books is doubtless true but hardly pertinent, since it has no bearing on the question whether he should record the positions of plates. Since he was writing a bibliographical catalogue of a collection, and not a bibliography, his task by definition was to describe the copy or copies of each book in the Hunt collection, rather than to establish the range of forms that constitutes ideal copy for each book. Thus whether or not to report the positions of plates depended entirely on what level of detail he wished to set for his descriptions and had nothing to do with the relation of the Hunt copies to ideal copy in each case. It is perfectly logical to record, in a catalogue of particular


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copies of books, the position of the plates in those copies, regardless of how the plates got in those positions. Of course, the catalogue will be even more useful if it sets forth whatever evidence is available in those copies bearing on the question of the responsibility for the present arrangement. In any event, whether the subject is a catalogue or a bibliography, Stevenson's view that the position of plates "matters less than many have supposed" rests on illogical arguments.

In fact it matters very much simply because the plates are a part of the book, and one has not described the book without describing their relation to it. But beyond that, since plates are part of the content or "text" of a work, establishment of their positions is a substantive, not merely a formal, matter. Bridson points out, for example, the importance for the study of nomenclatural priority of reconstructing—in the case of books published in fascicles—exactly which plates appeared in each fascicle;[55] and he suggests some techniques of analysis, such as examining stab-holes, offset, staining, and the like, that can help in determining those original arrangements (p. 477). When directions for placing the plates—either as a list or as a statement on each plate—are published with a book, bibliographers have sometimes contented themselves with recording this intended order (which is, of course, important), without further investigating whether the plates originally appeared in a different order, as in fascicle publication. The separate parts of books published serially—whether novels or scientific works with plates—were intended to be bound together, and in their original form many of them are understandably scarce today. But bibliographers must attempt to locate them (not only for the arrangement of their contents but for the information printed on their wrappers) and, whether or not they can be found, must analyze whatever evidence is available in an effort to learn as much as possible about the history of the publication of the books being described. Bibliographers, in other words, cannot stop with a report of what publishers intended but must try to uncover the history of what they actually did. The fascicle order of plates, then, is important in its own right as a fact of publishing history but is also important for the light it may shed on textual and nomenclatural matters.[56] Naturally there may be times when there is insufficient evidence to enable the bibliographer to say anything about the locations of the plates in a volume; but the absence of such information ought to mean that the bibliographer


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has attempted to secure it and failed, not that it is excluded as a matter of policy. The bibliographer should feel just as obligated to provide the locations of plates or other non-letterpress items as a signature collation of the letterpress sheets; indeed, the two are complementary, for it takes them both to form a complete record of the physical structure of the book.

The practical question of how to list these locations therefore must be faced. We may begin by accepting the point established by Bowers, Stevenson, and others that it is a mistake to try to incorporate this information within the collation formula for the letterpress sheets. Of course when one is describing a book in which the non-letterpress material falls in a single block and is not interspersed through the letterpress leaves—as in a fascicle with the plates at the end or an atlas with a letterpress title page and introduction—there is no problem anyway, since the letterpress and non-letterpress do not intrude on one another. This kind of situation could easily be handled in some such manner as the following:

8°: A 8 B-D8, 32 leaves, pp. [4] I 2-59 60; followed by plates I-XLII.
When the plates are interspersed the record is more complicated, since the location of each plate must be specified. One could attach the record to the end of the collation and pagination line, as above, or make it a separate line:
  • 8°: A 8 B-D8, 32 leaves, pp. [4] I 2-59 60; plates I-V (facing B2v, B6, C4v, C8v, D3).
  • Letterpress. 8°: A 8 B-D8, 32 leaves, pp. [4] I 2-59 60.
  • Plates. I-V (B2v, B6, C4v, C8v, D3).
The difference between the two is obviously not great, and both are clear and relatively concise (the word "facing" or "opposite" can even be dispensed with). However, logic and convenience may give a slight edge to the second approach, since it may be thought to convey more clearly the fact that the plates do not simply follow the letterpress and that the record of plates is in effect another collation formula, going back over the part of the book covered by the first one and focusing on a class of material excluded from it. In any event, the use of signature reference notation shows directly how the plates fit into the structure of the letterpress gatherings; in the case of later books, where references in general are more commonly made to page numbers (and plates may even be labeled with the numbers of the pages they are to face), one might still wish to keep the signature references as well—as in "I-V; B2v(16), B6(23) . . ."—simply because they provide an easier way of seeing


Page 40
at a glance the structure of the volume as a whole, sheets and plates combined. Signature or page references should be provided again later at the point where each plate is described; otherwise the task of finding a particular plate would involve the annoyance of having to count the location references, a significant inconvenience when the number of plates is large. Of course, the collation of plates could be offered in an expanded form, with each plate number directly attached to a location —as in "I (B2v), II (B6), III (C4v) . . ."—but such an arrangement would take up considerably more space, and more important, it would not as readily show any irregularities in the sequence of numbers on the plates. Indeed, when there are irregularities, it is a good idea to give a bracketed total in any case—as in "I-X IX-XXII [24]."[57]

The inclusion of the plate collation adjacent to the signature collation (clearly the right spot for it) leads to the question where the other details about the non-letterpress material ought to be placed in the description. Conventionally there is a paragraph labeled "Plates" or "Illustrations" that brings together these details. Yet an exception is (rightly) made for an engraved title, which is treated along with the letterpress title page. Thus two principles are at work: the handling of the engraved title and of the plate collation supports the idea that the focus of the description is on the book as an entity and that both letterpress and non-letterpress material will be brought into the description under categories—such as "title page" or "collation"—that refer not to a method of printing but to a characteristic of the completed book; the presence of a "Plates" paragraph, on the other hand, suggests an organization in which the method of production of the material takes precedence over its function in the book. The point is perhaps most clearly illustrated with reference to the description of paper: should the paragraph on plates include a description of the paper used for the plates, or should that description come in the paragraph on paper, which takes up the paper found elsewhere in the book?[58] If one answers that logically the paragraph on paper should include all papers in the book, whether used for letterpress or non-letterpress, one is really taking a stand on the question whether or not a book is fundamentally "complete" when its letterpress is complete. The implied answer is that if the book included plates


Page 41
upon publication, it cannot in any sense be regarded as a complete book without them. If both letterpress and non-letterpress are required to make up the book, then the paper for both comes under the heading of paper for the volume. In this view, is there any justification for a paragraph on plates? Where would the characteristics of plates listed above, other than paper and perhaps typography and lettering, be covered? Those characteristics—involving transcription of wording and description of content—are actually the counterpart of what is covered for letterpress in the contents paragraph. Perhaps there should be two contents paragraphs, corresponding to the two parts of the collation, the first labeled "Letterpress Contents" and the second "Engraved Contents," or some equivalent phrase. The description of the non-letterpress material would then be parallel to that of the letterpress, with information distributed as appropriate in the sections on title, collation, contents, typography, and paper; the notes section could likewise include additional information about plates, such as the report of their bibliographical status as separately published items. The logic of this arrangement is perhaps most easily seen in connection with music books and atlases, where the engraved portions constitute the principal contents: it would be inappropriate to relegate them to a "Plates" section, reserving "Contents" only for letterpress. But the same point can be made about any combination of letterpress and non-letterpress. This approach requires only modest shifts in the arrangement presently regarded as standard; but I think these changes in wording and placement reflect a sounder view of the published book as a physical entity.

Books containing non-letterpress material present such a multitude of different situations that bibliographers will inevitably have to make their own adjustments in individual cases, and it is not my aim to try to suggest a simple formal arrangement to be used on all occasions, for that aim is unrealistic. Rather, what I am concerned with is the point of view or general approach that underlies bibliographers' treatment of non-letterpress material. Central to the view I have expressed here is the proposition that the same standards and procedures of classification and description are appropriate and desirable for both non-letterpress and letterpress material. This view further implies that both are equally deserving of the bibliographer's full attention: both are part of the contents, physically and also intellectually, of the books in which they appear together. Non-letterpress material may seem more directly relevant to the intellectual content of books in some fields than in others. One may, for instance, think first of natural history books when reading a comment like W. M. Ivins's on pictures "made to convey visual information":


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"the story of prints is not, as many people seem to think, that of a minor art form but that of a most powerful method of communication."[59] But the point is applicable to prints in all fields.

Nevertheless, it is true that the exact nature and role of non-letterpress material varies from field to field, and interdisciplinary cooperation is especially important for the growth of bibliographical knowledge in this area. Bibliographers must take the broad view, and see their own particular problems of description in the context of non-letterpress description in general, if they are to benefit as fully as possible from relevant advances already made and if they are to produce bibliographies that meet as fully as possible the needs of users from different fields. Allan Stevenson was well aware of the mixed audience he was serving in the Hunt catalogue, and he has a great deal to say about the use of his catalogue by botanists and students of the graphic arts as well as by collectors and other bibliographers. "Those parts of the description are most successful," he says, "which prove of value to the botanist and these others at one and the same time" (p. cxciii). Or, as he puts it more succinctly, "Bibliography prefers to serve not one but all." In order to do that, all must cooperate, and Stevenson expresses the hope that bibliographers and scientists will "agree to use their special funds of experience and information to the common end of good descriptions." All who deal with the history of books, regardless of the field, do of course have common goals, and all their work is interrelated. The study of non-letterpress material in books provides a particularly forceful illustration of this basic point.