Friday, June 3, 2011

First evidence of a thumb print for authentication

Thomas Bewick

I was looking at some rare books at the Rare Book Buyer website and found this interesting item.

The Book:

[Thomas Bewick] [Aesop.] The fables of Aesop, and others : with designs on wood. Newcastle : Printed by E. Walker, for T. Bewick and Son, sold by them, Longman and Co., London, and all booksellers, 1818. FIRST EDITION, ROYAL ISSUE, the paper watermarked 1817, additional portrait preceding t.p., “To the youth of the British Isles”–Pref. Includes index of fables. 1st ed. The leaf preceding t.p. has the “thumb mark” receipt of Thomas Bewick, signed by Thomas Bewick and Robert Elliot Bewick and dated 1st October 1818. [2], xxiv, 376 p. : ill. (wood-engravings) ; 23.5 cm., Splendid straight-grained Morocco, signed Zaehnsdorf binding. Occasional minor spotting, A Very Fine copy.

Bewick’s art is considered the pinnacle of its medium. “Bewick is also noteworthy for having used his fingerprint as a form of signature, in conjunction with his written name to denote individuality in his publications. The significance of this happening nearly 200 years ago lead some to believe that Bewick is among the first to recognize the uniqueness of each individual human fingerprint.

Thomas Bewick [Wikipedia]

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