Saturday, 9 January 2010

Merryland in French, not 1815

Here are some pictures of an "1815" edition of a French translation of A New Description of Merryland (1740) that I recently bought: Description Topographique, Historique, Critique et Nouvelle du pays et des Environs de la Forêt Noire Situés dans la Province du Merryland. Traduction Trés-Libre de l’Anglais (Paris: Chez Les Marchands De Nouveautés, [1815]).

This is one of a number of nineteenth-century reprints of Merryland, most of which are falsely dated "1805." In this case the wrapper provides a date of 1815, but the title-page itself is undated. Fortunately, the paper is clearly watermarked with the date 1872.

I have been looking at all of these French editions of Merryland as a part of my research, compiling bibliographical descriptions based on photocopies, scans and microfilms. I have also been looking at catalogue entries, some of which offer dates for editions without explaining how the dates were arrived at.

Now that I have been able to handle a copy I can see where some of these dates may have come from: watermarks. Of course, watermarks do not appear in photocopies, scans and microfilms, which is why photocopies, scans and microfilms are no substitute for original editions and why collections of original editions remain essential for scholars.

[UPDATE 27 October 2015: for a post about (and images of) another falsely-dated edition of Merryland ('1805', actually 1863), see here.]

[UPDATE: 2 July 2016: After all my pictures disappeared (again) I decided to give up on external hosts for large versions (1000px) of my image files and, for now on, will stick with the smaller images (500px), which Blogger is prepared to host.]

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