As I’m finishing up surveying our Performing Arts Antiquarian Collection, I’ve started to go through the cellphone photos I’ve taken in terrible light of delightful collections. This is the first blog post of two on labels I’ve seen over many months. In this post I will share a broad range of label types, while a second post will examine more closely the cut pattern type of label at the top of this post (the one above is from Abraham auf Moria by Johann Rolle M2003.R74A27 1785).
In our Performing Arts Antiquarian Collection many books have labels adhered to their front covers – particularly those from the late 18th and early 19th centuries from Germany and France. I have not seen this broad a range of labels on book covers for non-music collections. All of the books were hand bound and are not publisher’s bindings or bound as editions.
These pictures have been taken with camera phones in a dim basement – so the lighting and quality is awful. I apologize! At some point it would be great to document these further in better conditions with our lab camera, but I was taking pictures for my amusement not documentation or serious study. Click on the picture of the binding for a detail of the labels below.
Ownership labels tooled on leather are very common and often charming. Here are a couple examples I particularly like.
This label is from Nouvelle methode de harpe en deux parties by Robert Bochsa (MT542.B631no 1820).
I hope Madame Dufau’s harp studies went well. The volume below is from a score of Camilla : eine Oper in 3. Aktenby Ferdinando Paër (M1503 .P13c 1799):
I see this type of ownership label on scores, manuals, and collections of sheet music. Women’s names are as common as male names in our collections. As opposed to other labels to come, these are almost always tooled gold on leather – usually red, but green is not uncommon.
Another kind of label visible on books during this time period is a label on paper identifying the volume as part of a lending/rental library. I wrote an earlier post on this lovely binding of Jean Joseph Mondonville’s opera Titon et L’Aurore published in Paris in 1753 (M1500 .M745ti 1753).
An article available through the University of Nebraska’s Digital Commons tracks some of these libraries: “Music Circulating Libraries in France: An Overview and a Preliminary List” by Anita Breckbill and Carole Goebesy.
In addition to ownership and library labels, we also find labels that simply identify the score and composer. These very simple labels are handwritten on usually white paper (though we have a couple colored paper examples as well).
Some labels have printed borders like this one below on Adrien Boieldieu’s La jeune femme colère (M1500 .B635je 1805):
This label was never filled out, but what a lovely border. The volume is a collection of sheet music for piano – maybe the label was never filled out as there were so many different pieces within (M35.G34R57 1815):
Next week, I’ll share examples of a specific type of paper label made from paper cut into patterns.