Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Can you tell your Scripsit from your Sculpsit?

Here's a little bit of book history to broaden your mind!

If you're looking at REALLY old music, sometimes you see tiny writing at the bottom of the title page - "Script" or "Sculpt", and then a name.  Rudolf Rasch, who is a book historian, and Associate Professor of Musicology (Emeritus) at Utrecht University,  has kindly provided us with an explanation:-

"Script = scripsit = “he wrote”, normally this refers to the one who designed the engraving or made a drawing as a design for the engraving. This should refer to a title page only. [Typesetter is not a good description of this person.]

"Sculpt = sculpsit = “he sculpted”, refers to the engraver.

"If a title page is signed by a “sculpsit” one is not a priori certain that the same engraver did the music too. The best way to decide whether the engraver of the title page also engraved the music is too look at the form of the letters on the title page and on the music pages. In many situations title page and music are engraved by the same hand, but there may be cases where the publisher had different engravers work at the title page and the music.

"But please keep in mind: 18th-century indications are never full-proof. Never turn off common sense."
So now you know. Just a little advancement in knowledge every day ...!  One day you might be grateful to Whittaker for sharing this little piece of book history with you!

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