Curious tail-pieces in BLC 623

Throughout the process of cataloging the materials in the French Pamphlet Project I have seen quite a number of interesting title vignettes, head- or tail-pieces (see my previous post on the Head-pieces of the Imprimerie royale), and other interesting type ornaments, but the tail-pieces that I encountered while cataloging BLC 623 (ML50.2.P76 L85 1683) seemed particularly worthy of a short blog post.

Howard Mayer Brown Libretto collection 623 is a bound-with volume containing 18 libretti printed between 1672-1695. Of these, ten were printed by the Amsterdam printer Abraham Wolfgang (fl. 1658-1694):

And three by his cousin and successor, Antoine Schelte (1673-1698):

Those printed by Abraham Wolfgang only indicate that he was the printer through the use of his printing device: a tree with bee’s next and fox with the motto, Quaerendo (see below). Those issued by Schelte include his name along with the Wolfgang device.

Abraham Wolfgang printer's device.

What is most interesting, however, about the Wolfgang/Schelte libretti are the curious tail-pieces printed throughout these 13 libretti.  By far the most common is a monkey-like creature, appearing at least five times.

Monkey-like creature tail-piece

Other creatures include a fox,  a spider and three bees on a rose, a rather demonic looking squirrel, and a dog defecating on a violin (which seemed to be almost as popular as the monkey, I counted three instances in these libretti).

Fox tail-piece.

Rose with bees & spider tail-piece.

Squirrel tail-piece.

Dog & violin tail-piece.

There are also several tail-pieces featuring birds.  The remainder of the tail-pieces found in these libretti are more traditional, usually with some sort of floral or vegetal design.  It seems that there should be some research done (if not already — I looked but was unable to come up with anything) on the use of these animal tail-pieces by the Wolfgang press, or at least a list of known designs.

 

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