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Subject: Decorated paper terminology

Decorated paper terminology

From: Henk J. Porck <henk.porck>
Date: Friday, June 4, 2004
A standard terminology for decorated paper
First target of an international 'task force'

On invitation of the Buch- und Schriftmuseum of the Deutsche
Bucherei in Leipzig, a two-day meeting (Feb. 27-28, 2004) was
organised on the current topic of decorated paper. The 18
participants, residents from Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and
the USA, represented the major disciplines involved in this
intriguing subject: collection keepers, book and paper scientists
and historians, conservators, and decorated paper artists and

This 'colourful' multidisciplinary group of experts offered a
competent platform for state-of-the-art presentations and fruitful
discussions on both technical and theoretical issues. The
communications presented by the specialists revealed a fascinating
spectrum of ongoing decorated paper projects, including new research
into in the production process of brocade paper, the use of sample
books for identification and dating purposes, a study on Oriental
silhouette papers, the publication of a catalogue on historic
printing blocks, transcription and database access of recipe
manuscripts, an art-historical doctorate study on ornaments and
patterns, and several conservation, digitisation and retrieval

The lack of an established vocabulary for decorated papers, was
unanimously considered a very serious problem, hampering progress in
general and specifically in cataloguing and improving the access of
collections. Consequently, it was decided to make at a joint effort
to establish a standard terminology for decorated paper, covering
both Eastern and Western hand made and machine made papers;
co-operating as an international 'task force', the pursuit of this
objective may result in a fundamental basis for further
collaboration. It was agreed that the primary focus should be on the
development of a suitable decorated paper thesaurus, in which the
terms of the distinctive categories are unambiguously defined and
presented in a hierarchical context.

The attendants of the meeting acknowledged that the recognisable
features of the manufacturing process, as well as the mere visual
image, i.e. appearance, should play a role in the classification
system. The ultimate list of decorated paper terms should preferably
be integrated in a more general system for paper terminology, such
as the 'Paper Terms' thesaurus, issued by the ALA Association of
College and Research Libraries (1990).

Finally, we do not have to start from 'scratch' and shall have the
advantage to build further on previous standardisation attempts,
among others by the International Association of Paper Historians
(IPH), which erected a special subcommittee for this purpose, and
the Belgian-Dutch Society of Students of Bookbinding, that published
a proposal for an international standard for Western hand made
decorated papers in 1994.

The fact that a clear consensus was reached with regard to the
approach certainly allows confidence in the success of our
undertaking. Although the enormous variation and complexity of
decorated paper, both in its production techniques and in its
designs, will surely offer many stumbling blocks, we are determined
to make a safe passage through this 'mine field' and are convinced
to succeed in our efforts.

We fully realise that an attempt to standardise decorated paper
terminology can only produce a generally accepted result, if a
broader circle of interested and concerned individuals is able to
offer input. Therefore, any reader who can make a meaningful
contribution to our enterprise, or give support in any other way, is
kindly requested to address the contact person indicated underneath.

Dr. Henk J. Porck
Curator Paperhistorical Collection
Koninklijke Bibliotheek
National Library of the Netherlands
PO Box 90407
2509 LK The Hague
The Netherlands
+31 703140572
Fax: +31 703140655

                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:72
                   Distributed: Friday, June 4, 2004
                       Message Id: cdl-17-72-001
Received on Friday, 4 June, 2004

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