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The Printer's Colophon in Sung China, 960-1279
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The Printer's Colophon in Sung China, 960-1279

Author: Ming-Sun Poon
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication:The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy, v43 n1 (19730101): 39-52
Summary:
The early Chinese printer's colophon is a primary source of bibliographic information for students of Chinese printing. Often these colophons go beyond the modern title page in the information they provide, including not only essential facts concerning the edition of the individual book but also facts about the printer and the process he used to produce the book. From these facts the researcher can elicit  Read more...
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Details

Document Type: Article
All Authors / Contributors: Ming-Sun Poon
ISSN:0024-2519
Language Note: English
Unique Identifier: 5547479895
Awards:

Abstract:

The early Chinese printer's colophon is a primary source of bibliographic information for students of Chinese printing. Often these colophons go beyond the modern title page in the information they provide, including not only essential facts concerning the edition of the individual book but also facts about the printer and the process he used to produce the book. From these facts the researcher can elicit information about the locations of printing establishments, migrations of printers within and between towns, procedures used in compiling and preparing books for the press, working conditions obtaining in the printing trade at the time, and the motives of the printers in producing the book. Further information is revealed by the design of the colophons and by changes in their design over time. Taken together, this information can be used to trace the development of Chinese printing in its early stages. Thus the colophon is also of value to the historian and the researcher. In this study of 30 sample colophons contained in books printed during the Sung dynasty in China, the author examines some of the regional and chronological patterns exhibited by colophons during the period, using both objective and subjective methods. The conclusions that emerge from the study are: (1) the colophon under-went a series of changes in form, content, design, and placement within the book during the Sung period, indicating an increasing use of the colophon as an advertisement of the printer and his wares; (2) these changes resulted from, and also reflected, a critical transition that took place in the Chinese printing trade during the period, the activity evolving from one carried on principally by governmental and private sources to a diversified one in which the commercial element played a significant role.

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Primary Entity

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The early Chinese printer's colophon is a primary source of bibliographic information for students of Chinese printing. Often these colophons go beyond the modern title page in the information they provide, including not only essential facts concerning the edition of the individual book but also facts about the printer and the process he used to produce the book. From these facts the researcher can elicit information about the locations of printing establishments, migrations of printers within and between towns, procedures used in compiling and preparing books for the press, working conditions obtaining in the printing trade at the time, and the motives of the printers in producing the book. Further information is revealed by the design of the colophons and by changes in their design over time. Taken together, this information can be used to trace the development of Chinese printing in its early stages. Thus the colophon is also of value to the historian and the researcher. In this study of 30 sample colophons contained in books printed during the Sung dynasty in China, the author examines some of the regional and chronological patterns exhibited by colophons during the period, using both objective and subjective methods. The conclusions that emerge from the study are: (1) the colophon under-went a series of changes in form, content, design, and placement within the book during the Sung period, indicating an increasing use of the colophon as an advertisement of the printer and his wares; (2) these changes resulted from, and also reflected, a critical transition that took place in the Chinese printing trade during the period, the activity evolving from one carried on principally by governmental and private sources to a diversified one in which the commercial element played a significant role.

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