Case 3. No Two Copies of an Early Title Are the Same

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Before 1850, books were sold without bindings. Over the course of a book's lifetime, it could have been bound and rebound several times. Depending on wear, for example, the book may have been trimmed, so the overall size of two copies of the same title could be different. Creating and assembling a book was complex. Books often were printed in small numbers providing an opportunity to correct mistakes in a subsequent printing. If illustrations were included in the book, they were usually plates, or images printed on only one side of a leaf and slipped into a gathering at a chosen spot. They might be inserted as a recto (right-side) leaf or a verso (left-side) leaf depending on the binder's or owner's preference for the text it illustrated. Sometimes illustrations were fold-outs; or an owner or binder might trim off the extra unprinted foldout part of the leaf and turn it into a bound double plate. Mistakes in pagination, including transposed and skipped numbers are fairly frequent, sometimes corrected in a later printing.

Two pairs of important early volumes are exhibited here to demonstrate such differences.

Fillipo Buonanni (b. Rome 1638; d.1725).
Gabinetto Armonico: Pieno d'Instromenti Sonori. First edition.
Rome: Nella stamperia di G. Placho, 1722.
Selch copy: contemporary vellum.

Fillipo Buonanni (b. Rome 1638; d.1725).
Gabinetto Armonico: Pieno d'Instromenti Sonori. Second edition.
Rome: Nella stamperia di G. Placho, 1722 [actually 1776].
Goodkind copy: contemporary (acid-stained) tree-calf.

Both the Selch and Goodkind copies of Gabinetto armonico are dated 1722, and both are in bindings contemporary to the text block. The Selch binding is vellum with a sprinkled red edge; the Goodkind's more costly binding of acid-etched full "tree-calf" resembles expensive burled hardwood. Its paneled spine with raised bands has dense gilt-stamped decoration and its edges are solid red.
Chief librarian at the Collegio Romano, bibliographer, archivist and catalogue author of Kircher's Museum Kircherianum, and probably a Jesuit (as were Mersenne and Kircher on whom he drew for this volume), Buonanni also would have known the collections that returning missionaries brought to Rome. Fascinated with world instruments, both ‘serious' and traditional, Buonanni gave equal billing to both types in his "Harmonious Cabinet."
Buonanni's illustrations and text lack descriptive detail and serve more as a travelogue and a compendium of the world of instruments. Each player and his or her instrument are depicted in a token geographical setting, sometimes hinting where they were used.
While the earlier Selch copy is a fresher print, the Goodkind copy has 7 additional pages of extra-European musical instruments descriptions and 10 additional plates depicting them, making a lavish total of 152 plates, compared to 142 in the Selch copy. The additional pages signify that this is the second edition, 1776, and that a title page Descrizione degl'instromenti armonici is lacking. The index (pages 167 to 170) retains those page numbers in the Goodkind copy, but they are bound last, so the collation of the book text is 1-166, 171-177, and at the end, the index: 167-170. The Selch copy also has early ms. marginalia additions and corrections adding a special personal touch.
Each plate bears 2 numbers: one for the plate and one for the text page that the plate illustrates. Because descriptions of particular instruments are brief, information about several instruments are often found on one page. Therefore, several plates (each depicting only one instrument) are associated with a given page. Choices had to be made about which plate faced the descriptive page and the order and direction (recto or verso) of the remaining plates. The numerical order by plate number in the Selch copy is more or less maintained; that in the Goodkind collection is not.
The Selch copy is open to the carillon plate. (Please also re-look at Case 2: Book Illustrations.) The source for this plate's design harkens back to Roccha (1612). The Buonanni engraver, Arnold van Westerhout, however, copied Mersenne's carillon design from 1636-7. In turn, Mersenne's engraver had copied Roccha. Consequently Mersenne's player faces the viewer's right, and the Buonanni and Roccha players face the viewer's left. Mersenne, then Buonanni's cuts appeared in mirror image. Note also that each player is fashionably dressed in the jackets and hair styles or wigs of their period.
The Goodkind copy is open to one of two added traditional instruments, either: "CXLIII, p. 174, Tromba della Florida" or a wind instrument being played by an American Indian from Florida, or "CXLV Arco de Cafri, p. 175", a musical bow being played in Capri.

 

Johann Mattheson (b. Hamburg 1681; d. 1764).
Der Volkommene Capellmeister: das ist gründliche Anzeige aller derienigen Sachen, die einer wissen, können, und vollcommen inne haven muss, der einer Kapelle mit Ehren und Nutzen vorstehen will.
Hamburg: Verlegts Christian Herold, 1739.
Selch copy: contemporary vellum.
Goodkind copy: quarter brown cloth, sprinkled brown paper.

The Selch copy is in a contemporary vellum binding, while the Goodkind copy has been trimmed to a smaller size and is in a later, down market, publisher's binding. The Goodkind copy's pages are stained and the volume is missing 21 pages. Of the three page numbers transposed in the Goodkind copy (e.g. 215 is printed 512, 221, as 122, and 287as 278), two remain unchanged and only the last one was corrected in the Selch example.
An opera singer, close colleague of Handel, composer, theorist, critic and journalist, Mattheson's influence on and documentation of the Baroque period cannot be underestimated. This work was intended as a manual for music directors, whether of secular or ecclesiastical organizations. A compendium of practical information that describes and assesses major theoretical Baroque concepts, it includes a systematic theory of rhetoric and a detailed theory of good melodic writing, both of which he considered the foundation for composition. He also laid out a doctrine of the Baroque precept of "Affections" or musical emotions and concludes with a detailed examination of the principles of contrapuntal practice. Mentioning many composers and supplying musical examples of their works to illustrate his points, he includes J.S. Bach's canon for four voices (BWV 1072), one of a small number of Bach's works to have been printed during his lifetime.
The Selch volume is open to the table of contents facing p. 1 that appears after a lengthy forward; and the Goodkind copy is open to Bach's canon, p. 412.

Last updated:
August 25, 2012