the sequence of watermarked and un-watermarked leaves, if carefully worked out, will mostly reveal the “make-up” of the successive gatherings.
After the size and sequence of the gatherings has been stated, the total number of leaves should be noted, with a mention of any numeration of them given in the book. Any discrepancy between the total of the leaves assigned to the successive gatherings and the total as separately counted of course points to an error, and the reckonings must be repeated till they tally. Errors in the printed enumeration of the leaves of old books are common, and it is seldom necessary to point them out in detail. When reference has to be made to a particular page of an old book, the printed signatures offer the readiest means, an index number placed below the letter indicating the number of the leaf in the gathering and the addition of “recto” or “verso” marking the upper or under page of the leaf. Thus “X4 recto” (some bibliographers prefer the rather clumsier form “X 4 recto”) stands for the first page of the fourth leaf of the gathering signed X. Where there are no printed signatures the leaf-number may be given, the letters “a” and “b” above the numeral taking the place of “recto” and “verso” (leaf 99a). Where some leaves of a book are numbered and others not, if the reference is to the printed numeration this should be stated. Printed leaf numeration is found as early as 1470, and became common about ten years later. Printed pagination did not become common till nearly the middle of the 16th century.
The foregoing details are all directed to showing which leaves of a book would be printed by the same pull of the press, how it was made up for binding, and how imperfections in any copy may be detected. They give little or no indication of the dimensions of the book. In the case of modern editions this may be done by adding one of the trade epithets, pott, foolscap, crown, &c., to the name of the size, which when thus qualified denotes paper of a particular measurement (see Paper). As, however, these measurements are not easily remembered, it is better to give the actual measurements in inches or millimetres of a page of an uncut copy. In old books uncut copies are not easily found, and it is useful instead of this to give the measurement in millimetres of the printed portion of the page (technically called the “type-page”), although this is subject to a variation of about 3% in different copies, according to the degree to which they were damped for printing. To this is added a statement of the number of lines in the page measured. The character of the type (roman, gothic or italic) is next mentioned, and in the case of 15th-century books, its number in the sequence of founts used by the printer (see Incunabula). Finally a reference to any authoritative description already printed completes this portion of the entry. Thus the description of the collation of the first-dated book printed at Augsburg, the Meditationes of S. Bonaventura, printed by Günther Zainer in 1468, should read: Folio (a10, b-d8, e-g10, h8) 72 leaves. Type-page () 202 × 120 mm.; 35 lines. Type 1 (gothic letter). Hain 3557.
(c) While many books, and this is especially true of early ones, contain little or nothing beyond the bare text of a well-known work, others are well provided, not only with commentaries which are almost sure to be mentioned on the title-page, or in the colophon (which the editor himself often wrote), but also with dedicatory letters, prefaces, complimentary verses, indexes and other accessories, the presence of which it is desirable to indicate. In these cases it is often convenient to show the entire contents of the book in the order in which they occur, noting the leaves or pages on which each begins. Thus in the first edition (1590) of the first three books of Spenser’s Faerie Queene, the literary contents, their order, and the space they occupy can be concisely noted by taking the successive gatherings according to their signatures and showing what comes on each page. Thus: A1, recto, title; verso, dedication, “To the Most Mightie and Magnificent Empresse Elizabeth”; A2-Oo8, text of books i.-iii.; Pp1, letter dated the 23rd of January 1589  to Sir Walter Raleigh expounding the intention of the work; Pp3 verso, commendatory verses signed W. R[aleigh], Hobynoll (Gabriel Harvey), R. S., H. B., W. L. and Ignoto; Pp5-8, complimentary sonnets severally inscribed to Sir C. Hatton, the earls of Essex, Oxford, Northumberland and Ormond, Lord Ch. Howard, Lord Grey of Wilton and Sir W. Raleigh, and to Lady Carew and to the Ladies in the Court; and “Faults escaped in the print”; Qq1-4, fifteen other sonnets.
Some bibliographers prefer to reverse the order of notation, (title, A1, recto; dedication, A1, verso, &c.), and no principle is sacrificed in doing so, though the order suggested usually works out the more neatly.
Enumeration and Arrangement.—In the 18th and early 19th centuries there was a tendency, especially among French writers, to exaggerate the scope of bibliography, on the ground that it was the duty of the bibliographer to appraise the value of all the books he recorded, and to indicate the exact place which each work should occupy in a logical classification of all literature based on a previous classification of all knowledge. Bibliographers are now more modest. They recognize that the classification of human knowledge is a question for philosophers and men of science, that the knowledge of chemistry and of its history needed to make a good bibliography of chemistry is altogether extrinsic to bibliography itself; that all, in fact, to which bibliography can pretend is to suggest certain general principles of arrangement and to point out to some extent how they may be applied. The principles are neither numerous nor recondite. To illustrate the history of printing, books may be arranged according to the places and printing-houses where they were produced. For the glorification of a province or county, they are sometimes grouped under the places where their authors were born or resided. For special purposes, they may be arranged according to the language or dialect in which they are written. But, speaking generally, the choice for a basis of arrangement rests between the alphabetical order of authors and titles, a chronological order according to date of publication, a “logical” or alphabetical order according to subjects, and some combination of these methods. In exercising the choice the essential requisite is a really clear idea of the use to which the bibliography, when made, is to be put. If its chief object be to give detailed information about individual books, a strictly alphabetical arrangement “by authors and titles” (i.e. by the names of authors in their alphabetical order, and the titles of their books in alphabetical sequence under the names) will be the most useful, because it enables the student to obtain the information he seeks with the greatest ease. But while such an alphabetical arrangement offers the speediest access to individual entries, it has no other merit, unless the main object of the bibliography be to show what each author has written. If it is desired to illustrate the history and development of a subject, or the literary biography of an author, the books should be entered chronologically. If direction in reading is to be given, this can best be offered by a subject-index, in which the subjects are arranged alphabetically for speedy reference, and the books chronologically under the subject, so that the newest are always at the end. Lastly if the object is to show how far the whole field has been covered and what gaps remain to be filled, a class catalogue arranged according to what are considered the logical subdivisions of the subject has its advantages. It is important, however, to remember that, if the bulk of the bibliography is very large, a principle of arrangement which would be clear and useful on a small scale may be lost in the quantity of pages over which it extends. An arrangement which cannot be quickly grasped, whatever satisfaction it may give its author, is useless to readers, the measure of its inutility being the worn condition of the alphabetical index to which those who cannot carry a complicated “logical” arrangement in their heads are obliged to turn, in the first instance, to find what they want. It should be obvious that any system which necessitates a preliminary reference to a key or index rests under grave suspicion, and needs some clear counterbalancing gain to justify the loss of time which it entails. The main classification should always be that which will be most immediately useful to readers of the books. To throw light on the history of a subject and to indicate how far the field is covered are honourable objects for compilers, but should mostly be held subordinate to practical use. It is noteworthy also that they may often be better forwarded by means of an index or table than by the main arrangement. The history of Hain’s Repertorium Bibliographicum, which enumerates in an alphabetical arrangement of authors and titles some 16,000 books printed in the 15th century, is a good example of this. For sixty-five years it was of the utmost use for its accurate descriptions of individual books, but threw practically no light on the history of printing. In 1891 Dr Konrad Burger published an appendix to it containing an Index of Printers, since greatly enlarged in his index to Dr Copinger’s Supplement to Hain (1902). The form of the index enables each printer’s work to be seen at a glance, and the impetus given to the study of the history of printing was very great. But if the book had originally been arranged under Printers instead of Authors, it would have been far more difficult to use; its literary value would have been halved, and the record of the output of each press, now instantly
- Here specify the page measured.