BPG Watermarks

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The watermark may provide information about the papermaker, the location the paper was manufactured, and/or the approximate date of manufacture.

Wiki Compiler:
Wiki Contributors: Linda Barone, Mary Broadway, Dr. Erwin Frauenknecht, María Cristina Rivera Ramos, Denise Stockman, Claire Valero, your name could be here

Copyright 2024. The Book and Paper Group Wiki is a publication of the Book and Paper Group of the American Institute for Conservation. It is published as a convenience for the members of the Book and Paper Group. Publication does not endorse nor recommend any treatments, methods, or techniques described herein. Information on researching with the wiki and citing the BPG Wiki can be found on the Reference and Bibliography Protocols page. The BPG Wiki coordinators can be reached at bookandpapergroup.wiki@gmail.com.

Cite this page:

BPG Watermarks. 2021. Book and Paper Group Wiki. American Institute for Conservation (AIC). Accessed February 21, 2024. https://www.conservation-wiki.com/wiki/BPG_Watermarks

Background[edit | edit source]

Common Watermarks[edit | edit source]

  • Arms of Amsterdam
  • Arms of France and Navarre
  • Britannia
  • Fleur-de-lis
  • ProPatria
This symbol was created to commemorate the liberation of the Netherlands from Spanish control in 1851. Ogierman 2017 There are two main variants of the ProPatria watermark:
  • A lion with a sword, scepter and/or a handful of arrows
  • A lion with the "Maid of Dort," usually inside a fence
MTI Pro Patria Maid of Dort
  • Strasbourg Lily

Major Papermaking Regions[edit | edit source]

  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
Years active
Common symbols
  • Antwerp, Belgium
Years active
Common symbols
  • Bologna, Italy
Years active
Common symbols
  • Fabriano, Italy
Years active
Common symbols
  • Genoa, Italy
Years active
Common symbols
* three circles with a crown or cross
* Griffins holding a shield
  • Kent, England
Years active
Common symbols
  • Utrecht, Netherlands
Years active
Common symbols

Famous Papermakers and their watermarks[edit | edit source]

  • Blauw & Briel
Years active
Common symbols
  • Lubertus van Gerrevink
Years active
Common symbols
  • Pieter van der Ley of Zaandyk
Years active: 1665 - 1765
Common symbols
  • Jean Villedary
Years active
Common symbols
  • Whatman
Years active
Common symbols

Measuring and Describing Watermarks[edit | edit source]

Watermark Terminology[edit | edit source]

  • Countermark:
  • Mark:
  • Variants: Slightly different versions of similar watermarks

Methods of Imaging Watermarks[edit | edit source]

Photogram[edit | edit source]

Thomas L. Gravell developed a system for imaging watermarks using Du Pont DYLUX® 503 photosensitive paper. The Archive of Watermarks and Papers in Greek Manuscripts describes the procedure here.

Beta radiograph. Art Institute of Chicago.

Beta Radiography[edit | edit source]

CAMEO describes this technique in their page on Beta radiography.

In 2018, the paper lab at the Art Institute of Chicago developed a protocol for beta radiography that replaces the Kodak film with phosphor-coated imaging plates. This offers several advantages including: a larger surface area, higher sensitivity to beta rays, lower sensitivity to visible light, and they are reusable. Practically, these features translate into significantly shorter collection times (between 10-40 minutes, depending on the thickness of the support), a setup that is safer for the art (i.e. does not have to be carried out in total blackness), and a digital image that is easily manipulated with basic Image Pilot Konica software. The method is detailed in their "Beta Radiography Protocols" (Rivera Ramos and Broadway 2019).

Transmitted Light[edit | edit source]

Multispectral Imaging[edit | edit source]

Digital Manipulation of Watermark Images[edit | edit source]

Images of watermarks can be dramatically improved by digital manipulation. The following are examples of a technique developed by Claire Valero for enhancing transmitted light images. Ms. Valero presented the technique at the BPG Tips Session at AIC Annual in Houston. The handout and training videos are available on the BPG Annual Meeting Tips Sessions page . The technique is also described in Conservation Highlights on the Library of Congress Preservation Directorate website.

Laid Paper

Wove Paper

Online Watermark Databases[edit | edit source]

Websites accessed 4/2018.

-This portal was developed by the International Association of Paper Historians to allow searches in different languages and simultaneous access to remote distributed databases. It includes NIKI, Piccard-Online, WILC, WZMA and other databases.
-This site can be used to make inquiries about mystery watermarks
-With links to even more databases here and here
-More than 135,000 watermarks from 1400 until around 1800 from European manuscripts, incunabula and music.

References[edit | edit source]

Ash, Nancy and Shelly Fletcher. 1998. Watermarks in Rembrandt's Prints. National Gallery of Art; First edition.
Bidwell, John. 2013. American Paper Mills 1690-1832. Dartmouth College Press, Hanover, NH.
Bradley, Louise. 2006. "The Use of Digital Imaging to Record Watermarks .The Australian Institute for Conservation of Cultural Material Bulletin: 137-146.
Briquet, Charles-Moise. 1907. Les Filigranes: Dictionnaire historique des marques du papier dès leur apparition vers 1282 jusqu'en 1600 avec 39 figures dans le texte et 16 112 fac-similés de filigranes. Paris: Alphonse Picard et fils. Digitized.
Bustarret, Claire. 2012. “Databases on Modern and Contemporary Papers: Shared Reference Lists or Working Tools for Research? ” XXXIst IPH Congress IPH Edition (19): 109-115
Bustarret, Claire and E. Vanzieleghem. 2016. “Inventaire Condorcet: méthodes érudites et gestion électronique.” Bulletin du bibliophile (2): 330-355
Castagnari, Giancarlo et al. 2016. La Forma. Formisti e Cartai nella Storia della Carta Occidentale (The Mould.Paper-and Mould-Makers in the History of Western Paper) Italy: Istituto Europeo di Storia della Carta e delle Scienze Cartarie & Fondazione Gianfranco Fedrigoni Istocarta.
Churchill, William A. 1935. Watermarks in Paper in Holland, England, France, etc. in the XVII and XVIII Centuries and Their Interconnection. Amsterdam: M. Hertzberger.
Doizy, Marie-Ange and Pascal Fulacher. 1997. Papier et Moulins. Paris: Arts et Métiers du Livre éditions.
Gants, David L. 1994. "Pictures for the Page: Techniques in Watermark Reproduction, Enhancement and Analysis." Annual Meeting of the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, 23 April 1994.
Gaudriault, Raymond. 1995. Filigranes et autres caractéristiques des papiers fabriqués en France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles. Paris: Éditions du CNRS.
Gravell Thomas L. and George Miller. 1979. A Catalogue of American Watermarks 1690 – 1835. New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc.
Gravell Thomas L. and George Miller. 1983. A Catalogue of Foreign Watermarks Found on Paper used in America 1700 – 1835. New York & London: Garland Publishing Inc.
Hunter, Dard. 1943. Papermaking: The History and Technique of an Ancient Craft. A.A. Knopf, 1943. Dover Publications, 1974, 1978 and 2011.
James, Carlo and Marjorie B. Cohn. 1997. Old Master Prints and Drawings: A Guide to Preservation and Conservation. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
La Lande, Joseph Jérôme de. 1761. Art de faire le papier. Paris: Saillant et Nyon.
Le Prat, André and Ariane de La Chapelle. 1996. Les relevés de filigranes = Watermark records = I rilievi di filigrane. [Musée du Louvre], Paris: la Documentation française.
Ogierman, Leonard. 2017. "Phenomenon of Pro Patria Paper Expansion." Ślaski Kwartalnik Naukowy NR-1(47)- Bibliotheca Nostra, 2017.
Rivera Ramos, María Cristina and Mary Broadway. 2019. "Beta Radiography Protocols: Watermark Wiki Submission." Art Institute of Chicago.
Valero, Claire. 2018. "Enhancing Watermark Images: A Photoshop Method." Presented at the 46th AIC Annual Meeting as part of the BPG Tips Session Luncheon. To be published in the forthcoming Book and Paper Group Annual 38.
Videos and pdf handout for this tip are available on the BPG Annual Meeting Tips Sessions page.
Valero, Claire and Mary Oey. 2018. "Enhancing Watermark Images: A Photoshop Method". Conservation Highlights. Preservation Directorate Website, Library of Congress.
Wenger, Emanuel and Marisa Ferrando Cusi. 2013. “How to Make and Organize a Watermark Database and How to Make it Accessible from the Bernstein Portal. A Practical Example: IVC+R Database.” Paper History - Journal of the International Association of Paper Historians 17 (2) : 16-21.

History of This Page[edit | edit source]

This page was created through an April 2018 Call-for-Content to the BPG listserve.

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