This blog is born from the idea of two librarians, that, in the long ones, cold, dusty days,  have decided to undertake a walk of discovery and study of one of the most interesting aspects of the ancient book:

the paper and its watermarks.

Almost by chance, from the simple census, our interest is moved to the thematic close examination, to the origin, to the inventiveness, to the paternity of the sketches and the lines of these characteristic signs, that gives an affiliation and a proper and traceable history to the paper.

On this blog you can find different point of view about the world of the watermarks.

You can deepen your knowledges, read the pages to leave us comments and suggestions.

We wait you soon to visit our blog.


“Una firma nell’acqua”

“A sign in the water”

Bull’s Head and Mermaid: The History of Paper and Watermarks from the Middle Ages to the Modern Period (2009, 128p)

This exhibition is dedicated to a special treasure within the framework of paper history research: watermarks. Visible when holding any bank note against light, watermarks were produced in a myriad of shapes from the 13th century on when they were first invented in Europe. They make an excellent mean to date unidentified documents, a Mozart manuscript for example, or authenticate works of art, such an etching signed “Rembrandt”.

The public is presented with a concise and profound introduction to watermarks, techniques of paper manufacture and the scientific study of papers in general. A special section deals with the watermarks analyzed against the background of medieval symbolism. The importance of watermarks for paleography is also underlined. Watermark scholars and watermark collections in Europe receive a due share of focus, while the digital presentation of watermarks of several European databases establishes the connection between past and present.

A catalog with detailed scientific information serves to deepen the various aspects shown through the exhibition.

catalogcover_engl_Bull's head and mermaid

This is a Bernstein’s project initiative. The english catalogue is not online yet.

In the Diocesan Library of Cremona you can read the italian catalogue. Click the link on the image!

From 29/10/2008 to 31/12/2008

Archivio Storico Civico and Biblioteca Trivulziana
Castello Sforzesco-Piazza Castello, 1 MILANO

Testa di bue e sirena. La memoria della carta e delle filigrane dal Medioevo al Seicento.
/ cured by Rückert , Peter . – Stuttgart, 2007 . – 94 p.

Una firma nell’acqua

La memoria della carta e delle filigrane dal Medioevo all’età moderna

From 29/10/2008 to 31/12/2008
from 09:00 to 13:00 and from 14:00 to 17:30

Archivio Storico Civico of  Milano e Trivulziana Library
Castello Sforzesco-Piazza Castello, 1 MILANO

The promoters are the colleagues of the Trivulziana Library (Historical Civic Archive) in collaboration with the Landsarchiv Baden-Wurttemberg, the Civic Collection Bertarelli and the Civico Gabinetto dei disegni.

The exibition is born from the collaboration of the Historical Civic Archive of Milano and the Trivulziana Library , that has taken care of the prepartion, with the Landesarchiv of the Baden-Württenberg and the European project Bernstein, responsible of the ample apparatus of didactic texts, expression of a long appointment of search and popularization within the watermarks studies. The intent of the initiative is that to approach the great public to the history and the productive techniques of the paper, with particular reference to the introduction and the to spread some use of the watermark. The title evokes the action of the water to which the imprint of the watermark is owed, visible in the handicraft paper.

If the principal recipient is the non specialistic public, also the researcher will find in the initiative sure motives for interest, thanks to the texts devoted online to the modern techniques of survey of the watermark and the evolution of the repertoires.

Over that for the section of didactic texts, that with the title “Bull’s Head and Mermaid” had already been prepared during 2007 near the Museum of the paper and the watermark of Fabriano and the Central institute for the Pathology of the Book in Rome, for initiative of the respective corporate body, the Milanese exibition is characterized for the exposure of some exemplary, ones of exceptional interest, belonging to the harvests of the Castle Sforzesco.

Medieval and humanistic codes, ancient books to press, documents of file, presses and sketches have been selected with the objective to show some meaningful sketches of filigree adopted particularly by the Italian, and Milanese paper mill, from the Middle Ages to the Modern Age (the biscione visconteo, the bull’s head with flower, fantastic animals as the dragon and the unicorn, monograms and other motives drawn by the symbolic universe of the various epochs). Close to every original the photographic reproduction of the relative watermak is also exposed, lighting from the rear the paper with special readers to cold light.

The selection of the pieces in exibition includes the codes of the Divine Comedy triv. 1047 and 1083, the famous Stemmario Trivulziano 1390, original of letters of the dominion visconteo-sforzesca to the times of Ludovico the Moor, autographs of S. Charles Borromeo, sketches of the Cathedral in Milan of the end of the XVI. beginnings of the XVII century (I File Historical Civic and Library Trivulziana); an eighteenth-century copy, to the etching, of a more ancient incision of Rembrandt (Civic Harvest of the Presses Achille Bertarelli); a 1620 project for a jewel with diamonds, of center-Italian circle, belonging to the Collection Sardini Martinelli (Civico Gabinetto dei disegni).

The exibition, to introduce to the fascinating history of the paper and the watermarks, offers further a precious occasion to the visitors to know important testimonies of the Milanese culture.