Feb 19, 2011

Title Pages, Just Title Pages

Titles Pages are very special places in any book. Printers used them to advertise their goods (literally, they were displayed in the window), their design emphasizes the selling points on the product, and the book historian of today can use them to better understand the history of books, the book-trade of the past, and the development of  typography. Just think about the way in which a title page differs from a normal page of text, and imagine what a book would be like if it only contained title pages. 
Well, luck will have it that we find ourselves in the possession of a book (recte: a collection) of engraved title-pages from the from the 16th and 17th century. Early on these engravings were valued as prints, and were sold separately through the specialist trade of prints. We are now selling a few of these on ebay, in case you are interested in a Rubens item, the title page of a 1680 Hollandsche Mercurius, or the title of a Dutch book on legal language which is entitled Parrot, or rather, Papegaey ofte Formulier-Boek, we would be happy to oblige. (more to come)

Quintilian, Oratoriarum Institutionum, Cologne: Cervicornus 1527 

Here is a title-page for a famous rhetorical handbook by Quintilian. This edition was published in Cologne in 1527. It features Cleopatra holding two snakes to her breasts, just as Shakespeare described it, an American Indian (?) with the name tag "Dionysius", and another guy, chained (literally) by the force of words that the art of rhetoric controls. But the curious and sweet thing is how type size is employed purely graphically here, without a semantic emphasis. Big letters for the first words, never mind that they only refer to the first name of the author. 

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