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As it is one of the aims of emblem digitization, as we see it, to help us understand the web-
like connections between emblems and between emblems and other historical phenomena, infor-
mation about their iconography should help us understand:
the themes we find in emblems;
the stories and images expressing those themes;
the pictorial means used to tell those stories.
Emblems are parts of books, books are parts of collections
For the limited purpose of this discussion, an emblem book may be seen as a collection of pic-
tures that have to be described in a more or less consistent way.This amounts to saying that the
individual picturae are not to be treated as isolated pictures, but as parts of series. At the level of
such a series the descriptions should strive for consistency.Themes, stories, and details described
in one picture should be described in others as well.The same holds true on the level of indi-
vidual emblem books.As we envisage in emblem digitization projects, individual books are pub-
lished as parts of larger collections.Whether emblem books form a collection in a physical sense,
such as "the emblem books of the Stirling Maxwell collection" or in a thematic sense, such as "the
Love emblems of the EPU project," one should coordinate the description of pictures on the col-
lection level.
WYSIWYK: What you see is what you know
Clearly, these wider contexts influence our choice of descriptors and indexing depth, but it is
the "con-textual" information surrounding the picture, i.e., the motto, the epigram and the com-
mentary, that quite literally tells us what we are looking at.Without textual information we would
often be clueless and unable to provide a correct description of the picture. By way of example
Illustration 6: Geffrey Whitney, A Choice of Emblemes.
Leiden: Franciscus Raphelengius, 1586, Emblem 51,
"Nil penna sed usus."
Illustration 7: One of the printer's devices of Daniel
Willemsz van der Boxe,"Nil penna sed usus."
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