Wednesday, July 8, 2009


An eighteenth-century catalog printed in Vienna – but by a Frenchman, in French – as an aid to collectors of Rembrandt's prints (and those of his "principal imitators"). I actually like the clunkiness of the layout. In some places the type is damaged, or unevenly inked. Too many caps, not enough leading, superfluous punctuation. Yet ... yet ... their very homeliness makes these pages a pleasure. Perhaps this is simply because the hurried hand of the laborer is overwhelmingly evident.

It was a book to make notes in, not a book to admire. Nobody made any notes in this volume. It is an ordinary circulating book in the San Francisco library where I work, but nobody has ever checked it out. Its pristine condition suggests that I may likely be the first actual reader of this copy in the 212 years of its existence.