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Re: Placement of colophons

To the list:

The following definition is from Geoffrey Glaister's "Encyclopedia of the
Book". It is a bit long but I thought his definition plus the historical
background would be of interest.

Colophon: I. in manuscript books, a concluding statement, not without
overtones of pride in achievement, indicating some or all of the following:
the title of the work, the name of the copyist, date and place of copying, a
blessing for the patron or client who commissioned it, and threats of
excommunication to unauthorized copiers. Shorter colophons named only the
copyist and date.
The oldest known manuscript colophon concludes a copy of the Books of the
Prophets written by Moses ben Asher in Tiberias in 827. During the later
Middle Ages colophons were sometimes in verse. The Jewish copyist of the
illuminated Worms Mazhor, Simhah ben Judah, noted in the colophon that
copying had taken four weeks: that was in 1272.
Early printed colophons followed the manuscript tradition, occasionally
including the date when printing began and/or ended, apologies for errors,
the number of copies printed, and the name of the ruler under whose
protection the book was issued. There were also colophons of full-page
length such as in Gershom Soncino’s edition of Rashi’s Pentateuch, Rimini,
c. 1525. In Hebrew books the length of the colophon was often adjusted to
fill the whole space at the end of a text in the belief that there must be
no blank. Probably for the same reason the colophon was sometimes printed in
larger type than that of the text it concluded. In Italy early printed
editions of the classics sometimes ended with a colophon in verse. By the
early 16th century the practice of identifying a book and its printer on the
title-page, q.v., was accepted and the colophon was abandoned.
The word colophon derives from the Ionian city of that name. It was held
that the Colophonians, being good fighters, tipped the scale in favour of
whichever side of a battle they fought, enabling it to finish. Hence the
phrase of Erasmus ‘Colophonem adidi’ — ‘I have put a finishing touch to it’
and its use to describe the words at the end of a book.
A modern form of colophon is the production note at the end of private press
books. In France this may begin with the words ‘Justification du tirâge’ or
‘Achevé d’imprimer’. See also cuneiform, explicit.
2. a publisher’s device, q.v., printed on the title-page. This is a misuse
of the term. A device may appear on every book the publisher issues: a
colophon is particular to one title.

Regards and Happy New Year

Kurt Klappenbach
Loud Creek Books & Bindery
P.O. Box 8120
Bangor, ME   04402-8120

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