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):
- Louis Lully’s Alcide (1693) (BLC 623b) and Zephire et Flore (1688) (BLC 623j)
- Pascal Collasse’s Thetis et Pelée (1689) (BLC 623c) and Enée et Lavinie (1691) (BLC 623i)
- Henri Desmaret’s Didon (1694) (BLC 623d)
- Teobaldo de Gatti’s Coronis (1692) (BLC 623e)
- Jean-Baptiste Lully’s Armide (1686) (BLC 623h) and Acis et Galatée (1686) (BLC 623r)
- Jean de La Fontaine’s Astrée (1692) (BLC 623k)
- Michel Richard de Lalande’s Ballet de la jeunesse (1686) (623m)
And three by his cousin and successor, Antoine Schelte (1673-1698):
- Desmaret’s Circé (1695) (BLC 623o)
- Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Medée (1695) (BLC 623p)
- Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre’s Cephale et Procris (1695) (BLC 623q)
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.
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.
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).
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.