signatures ☜☞ signaturas tipográficas

A signature is usually an uppercase letter (or, in some sueltas printed after 1800, a lowercase letter or a numeral) printed in the lower-right corner of the first recto of each gathering or section of a book. It serves as a guide for assembling the gatherings in correct order.

Sueltas printed before 1800 rarely extended to 64 pages in length A-H4; this was less true after 1800, when a play printed in a single column could run over 100 pages.

A desglosada, removed from a volume of collected works would have signatures indicating its position in the volume, and of course that would be one of the clues that it is a desglosada.

Signatures apply to single gatherings. A collation is the formula that records the sum of signatures that amount to the bibliographical description of the volume.

see also: collation, format, gathering, quire / signature
  • Note the F ff in the lower right corner of the page. This is the signature mark. This indicates that this is the first leaf of gathering 3F. The shorthand designation '3F' means that the printer had already run through the Latin alphabet twice when assigning signature marks (that is, A-Z, AA-ZZ (or 2A-2Z) have already been used) and that they are now in their third run of the alphabet.

    Additional observation: Note all the indications that this is a desglosada, such as the Tom. II. on the bottom left. additionally, the F ff indicates that this first page (page 409) is already pretty far into the original volume.

    Saber del mal y del bien

    [Private collection SzT]