University Library Leipzig


University Library Leipzig

A reference inventory of paper watermarks has been systematically established at the manuscript centre of the University of Leipzig since 2004. It has expanded to approximately 4,000 references with the emphasis of the collection being on papers up until the first half of the 16th century.

The Leipzig collection basically aims at closing a serious gap in the watermark repertoire, the reason for this being that papers used in East Germany have neither been included in the main printed watermark catalogues by Briquet and Piccard, nor have they been evaluated to any appreciable extent in the online-based research tools. Considering that the main development projects at the Leipzig manuscript centre have been focusing on manuscript collections from Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, it made sense to profit from the examination of papers due to manuscript studies being carried out anyway, so that watermark examples of high quality from East German collections could be generated and published via WZIS.

In the development projects carried out at the Leipzig manuscript centre assistants and interns are being employed to compile documentation schemes on paper distribution within the individual manuscript and to carry out a replication of the watermark according to clearly defined quality standards. In this process both tracings and rubbings are being collected. The manuscripts in possession by the University Library of Leipzig will be studied successively with regard to the papers used as part of the University’s own means, thus contributing to a steady growth of references.

In the first phase of the WZIS project, the University Library Leipzig fed into the database all available records of its watermark collection. Its objective in the project’s second phase lies in the systematic cataloguing of high-quality examples. In order to accomplish this goal the watermarks of all dated paper manuscripts from the University Library’s collections are being gathered. They largely come from east- middle German regions and are therefore most helpful in improving efforts to localize papers which were in use in East Germany. The collection of watermarks from papers used at the printing workshops in Leipzig at the beginning of local book printing between 1481 and 1520 has the same goals. All in all, approximately 4,000 dated and localized or localizable watermark examples will thus be made available for research in the ongoing phase by means of the WZIS.

At the same time, the addition of further examples from projects in progress and from the University Library’s own watermark replications will be continued.


Dr. Christoph Mackert
Leiter des Handschriftenzentrums
Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig
Beethovenstr. 6
D-04107 Leipzig