Wrappers and covers

When originally published, most scores were contained within a wrapper consisting of a folded bifolium of coloured paper which was fine in quality and supple in texture.[1] As previously noted, few wrappers have survived to the present day. This has partly to do with the delicate nature of the stock in question, and also because wrappers were often removed soon after purchase. Even the deposit scores held by major libraries tend not to have original wrappers. Their loss is much to be regretted: not only do they facilitate the dating process, but they also offer valuable information about the period of commercial availability of a given impression.

Like title pages, wrappers evolved over time but generally fall into three broad categories:

  1. the front page consists of a replica of either the TP, a half-title or (exceptionally) a passe-partout or ATP, while the remaining three pages are blank;
  2. as above, except that the fourth page of the wrapper contains a catalogue extract as a form of advertising;
  3. the front page consists of a replica of either the TP, a half-title, a passe-partout or a CTP; catalogue extracts appear on one, two or all three of the remaining pages.[2]

Only limited conclusions can be drawn from the few Polish and English wrappers that survive. The two extant Polish wrappers described in this volume contain catalogue extracts, in one case advertising the publisher’s own output (see PolG#m–1-K), whereas the second, printed in Berlin, includes an extract from the catalogue of A. M. Schlesinger (74–1c-G). Of the eleven surviving English wrappers, two are defective, lacking the first leaf (66–1-CO, 66–1a-CR). The oldest English wrapper, dating from c. 1847, is unique in containing no catalogue extracts (see 57–1a-W), while seven of the other impressions with wrappers have advertisements of this kind on one page thereof (10/1-6–1e-W, 10/1-6–1j-A&P, 10/7-12–1b-W, 25/1-6–1f-W, 25/7-12–1g-A&P, 28/1-14–1f-A&P, 28/15-24–1f-A&P) as against two pages in the eleventh case (HEX–1-CR/M).

In French editions from Chopin’s lifetime the first of the three categories predominates, although a certain number of wrappers do contain advertisement text.[3] Around 1849 this tendency is reversed, such that wrappers of type 1 become the exception.[4] As for the German editions, the content of wrappers varies according to the publisher. Irrespective of their publication date, all of Breitkopf & Härtel’s wrappers – of which a large number survive – include a catalogue extract. No such advertisement text appears on the wrappers of Kistner, Peters or Stern, whereas those of Hofmeister, Mechetti (followed by Spina and Schreiber), A. M. Schlesinger, B. Schott’s Sohne and Schuberth variably include catalogue extracts. In the case of Mechetti and A. M. Schlesinger, however, the ones without catalogues are in a small minority.[5]

Wrappers bearing a half-title on the front are relatively abundant, the oldest dating from as early as 1834.[6] Although some half-titles were exclusively intended for use on wrappers, those in the Posthumous Works serve a double purpose: not only do they appear on the half-title pages preceding the constituent works in the first impression of the German volume and in all of the volumes brought out in Paris, but they also feature on the wrappers of the successive reprints in separate editions produced in France and Germany.[7]

Upon close inspection the apparently identical replicas of TPs on the front page of many wrappers turn out to be slightly different; such wrappers may have pre- or post-dated their respective title pages. For example, on the TP of the Mazurkas Op. 41 held by A-Wgm (see 41–1a-B&H) the price is stated in Neugroschen, whereas on the wrapper it appears in Groschen. A similar difference exists between the TP and wrapper of the Waltz Op. 34 No. 1 (34/1–1a-B&H), where the lithographer’s signature is present on the wrapper but missing from the TP. The publisher’s address on the wrapper of the Mazurkas Op. 59 does not correspond to the one indicated on the TP (see 59–1d-F), while the wrappers of the albums classed as Posth–1b-Sam and Posth–1c-Sam diverge in several respects from their associated STPs, having been prepared somewhat earlier than the latter (as in the case of the three preceding examples – see below). Variants of this sort can also be observed in some Brandus reprints in the EO collection.[8]

Such discrepancies might have been caused by the production of wrappers and scores at different printing firms and possibly at different intervals, with assembly being carried out thereafter by the publisher; it is equally conceivable that the latter’s stocks of wrappers and scores were not synchronised, and that older wrappers – of which greater quantities may well have been prepared at any one time as they were cheaper to produce in bulk – were married up with relatively later impressions containing updated TPs. One also should not rule out the possibility that mistakes were made when combining wrappers and scores at the point of sale or elsewhere; passe-partouts used for wrappers could easily have been confused with similar ones serving as title pages.

Albums constitute a special case, in that they were produced in several versions distinguished by the type of wrapper or cover. Like most scores, the simplest albums had a lightweight loose wrapper (see 64/1–1a-BR); a number of these were in effect softbound, with flyleaves attached to the wrapper (see 45–1-Sm, 50/1–2-Sm, Posth–1c-Sam). Catalogue extracts appeared on the back of certain wrappers of this type (45–1-Sm, 50/1–2-Sm). Mid-price versions were bound in a decorative card cover (see 23–2-B&H, 32/2–1-Sam (A-Wn copy, second D-Bds copy), 33/1&2–1a-B&H, +45–1-Sm, 45–1-ME (second A-Wn copy, GB-Lbl copy)), while the most expensive albums were encased in card covered with richly embellished silk (see 15–1a-Sm, 45–1-ME (first A-Wn copy), MM–1a-CHAP (GB-Lbl copy)).[9] The last two types contained no advertisement text for obvious reasons, given their deluxe appearance and appeal.

The section on ‘Printing methods’ refers to the range of techniques used to produce wrappers and covers. In all of the editions surveyed here the advertisement text was printed by means of movable type. Where the front pages are identical to TPs, both were produced using the same technique, whether engraving, lithography or movable type. A half-title located on the wrapper was typically printed by the same method as the one for the actual TP of that impression. A few exceptions do exist, however. Movable type was employed for the half-titles on the wrappers/covers of five different impressions, whereas the corresponding TPs were engraved (see 18–1a-Sm, Dubois copy), lithographed (50/1–2-Sm, MFM–1-E, MFM–1a-E) or produced via lithographic transfer (45–1-Sm, F-Pn copy). Furthermore, the wrapper of the Album de Piano 1848, in which Chopin’s Op. 64 No. 1 appeared, features an engraved half-title as against a lithographed album title page (see 64/1–1a-BR).

[1] See also Format, dimensions and physical contents and Printing methods. Surviving wrappers exist in a spectacular range of colours. Those in white or off-white are uncommon: see 23–2-B&H, 28/1-14–1f-A&P, 40–2g-B&H (D-Bds copy), 46–1-B&H (US-NYpm copy), 48–1-B&H (D-Dl copy), 50–1-ME (PL-Kj copy).

[2] See Appendices I & II for further information about the evolution of STPs and the catalogue extracts printed on wrappers; see also Publications of Breitkopf & Härtel.

[3] Those in category 2 include 9–1a-Sm, 16–1b-Sm (US-Cu copy), 18–1a-Sm, 22–1b-Sm, 45–1-Sm, 45–2b-Sm, 50/1–2-Sm and 64/1–1a-BR, whereas 16–1a-PL, 18–1b-LE, 37–1a-TR, 63–1-BR, 63–1b-BR, 64/1–1-BR (seventh F-Pn copy), 64/2–1-BR and 64/3–1-BR (fifth F-Pn copy) belong to category 3.

[4] See 2–1a-BR, 6–1c-BR, 11–1d-BR, 16–1c-Sm, 21–1c-BR, 35–1c-BR (F-Pmounier copy), 38–1b-BR (GB-En copy), 74–1-H (F-Pn copy), 74–1a-H, 74–1c-H, 74–1e-H, HEX–1-BR (A-Wn copy).

[5] Only one of four complete Hofmeister wrappers contains a catalogue extract. As for the editions of Mechetti and his successors, there are sixteen complete wrappers, of which nine have advertisement text, likewise thirty-one out of thirty-four complete wrappers published by A. M. Schlesinger, four out of five released by B. Schott’s Söhne, and one out of two of Schuberth.

[6] Impressions of this type include the following:
French: 18–1a-Sm, 28/1-12–1b-BR, 28/13-24–1b-C, 34/1–1a-Sm, 34/2–2-BRD&C, 44–1-Sm, 45–2b-Sm, 46–1-Sm, 46–1a-Sm, 47–1-Sm, 47–1a-Sm, 48/1–1-Sm, 48/1–1a-Sm, 48/2–1b-Sm, 49–1b-Sm, 52–1a-Sm, 53–1a-Sm, 54–1a-Sm, 55–1a-Sm, 56–1a-Sm, 57–1-MEIj, 58–1-MEIj, 58–1a-MEIj, 74–1-H, 74–1a-H, 74–1c-H, 74–1e-H, 74–1f-H, MFM–2-BR (see also note 7 below)
German: 52–1-B&H, 53–1-B&H, 53–1a-B&H, 54–1-B&H, 57–1-B&H, 58–1-B&H, 58–1a-B&H, 60–1-B&H, 61–1-B&H, 62–1-B&H, 63–1-B&H, 64–1-B&H, 64–2-B&H, 65–1-B&H, HEX–1-HAt (see also Printing method), MEG–1b-B&B, PolG-–1a-SCH, PolG-–1b-SCH, PolG#m–1a-SCH, PolG#m–1b-SCH, PolG#m–1c-SCH (see also note 7 below)
Polish: 74–1c-G, PolG#m–1-K
Half-titles are also present on the wrappers or covers of certain albums: see 45–1-Sm, 50/1–2-Sm, 64/1–1a-BR, Posth–1b-GE, MFM–1-E, MFM–1a-E.

[7] In the French editions of the Posthumous Works, no changes were made to these half-titles after they began to appear on wrappers (compare Opp. 66–71 & 73 from Posth–1-MEIf, Posth–1a-COM, Posth–1b-GE and Posth–1c-GE with 66–1a-COM, 66–1b-GE, 66–1c-GE, 67–1c-GE, 68–1a-COM, 69–1d-GE, 70–1-MEIf, 71/1–1b-GE, 71/2–1a-GE, 71/3–1a-GE and 73–1a-GE). The German editions present a more complex history. Certain half-titles remained unchanged: compare Op. 70 from Posth–1-Sam with 70–1b-Sam (D-Bds copy); likewise Op. 71 No. 1 from Posth–1-Sam with 71/1–1a-Sam and 71/1–2-Sam (US-Wc copy). In other cases a single change was made: compare Op. 67 from Posth–1-Sam with 67–1b-Sam (GB-Lbl copy) and 67–1c-Sam (second PL-Wn copy); Op. 68 from Posth–1-Sam with 68–1-Sam (A-Wn copy) and 68–1b-Sam; Op. 69 from Posth–1-Sam with 69–1-Sam (PL-Wn copy) and 69–2a-Sam (D-Bds copy); Op. 71 Nos. 2 & 3 from Posth–1-Sam with 71/2–1-Sam (PL-Kj copy), 71/2–1a-Sam (PL-Tu copy) and 71/3–1a-Sam; and Op. 72 from Posth–1-Sam with 72–1a-Sam, 72–1b-Sam and 72–1d–Sam (D-Bds, GB-Ob, US-NYp copies). Finally, in another case two changes were made: compare Op. 66 from Posth–1-Sam with 66–1b-Sam (PL-Tu copy), 66–2-Sam (US-Wc copy), 66–2a-Sam (D-Dl and US-Cu copies), 66–3-Sam (PL-Kj copy), 66–4c-Sam (GB-Ob copy) and 66–4f-Sam (D-Bds copy), as well as 66–4g-Sam (third PL-Wn copy) and 66–4i-Sam.

[8] Scores with earlier wrappers include 1–1a-BR (F-Pn copies), 3–1c-BR, 7–2a-BR, 14–1b-BR, 15–1c-BRg (first A-Wn copy), 16–1e-BR, 20–1b-BR, 23–1b-BR, 23–1c-BR, 24–1b-BR (F-Pplanes and I-Rce copies), 28/1-12–1h-BR, 28/13-24–1f-BR&D, 28/13-24–1h-BR, 32–1b-BRg (second A-Wn copy), 34/1–1b-BR, 34/1–1c-BR (I-Rce copy), 34/3–1d-BR, 36–1g-BR (I-Rce copy), 37–1e-BR&D, 41–1c-BR, 48/1–1b-BR&D and MFM–2b-BR. In contrast, 35–1d-BR&D has a later wrapper.

[9] The sale price was usually left off an ATP because the different versions thereof had variable functions. That explains why a price is found on only three copies of albums catalogued in this volume (i.e. second GB-Ob copy of 45–1-ME, second F-Pn copy of MFM–1-E, and US-Cu copy of MFM–1a-E). Several French albums also lack a price because they were offered to subscribers of the RGMP (see +45–1-Sm, 45–1-Sm, 62/2–1a-BR, 64/1–1a-BR).

Information about the prices of German albums can be gleaned from the music press and publishers’ catalogues as follows:

  • 23–2-B&H: ‘4 Thlr. Prachtausgabe 6 Thlr.’ (MlM No. 12, 1836, p. 139)
  • 32/1–1-Sam and 32/1–1a-Sam: ‘geb. 3 Thlr 18 Gr.’ (MlM No. 2, 1838, p. 21); ‘3 Thlr 22½ Sgr.’, ‘Prachtausgabe 7 Thlr.’ (‘MUSIKALIEN-|VERLAGS-‌CATALOG|der|Schlesinger’schen Buch- & Musikhandlung|in BERLIN’, 1846, p. 10)
  • 32/2–1-Sam: ‘geb. 3 Thlr 18 Gr.’ (MlM No. 12, 1838, p. 181)
  • 33/1&2–1a-B&H: ‘cart. 3 Thlr.’, ‘Prachtausgabe 5 Thlr.’ (MlM No. 12, 1838, p. 181)
  • 45–1-ME: ‘6 Fl.’, ‘Pracht-Ausgabe 10 Fl.’ (MlM No. 2, 1842, p. 21)
  • MFM–1-SCH: ‘geb. 7 Fl. 12 Xr.’ (MlM No. 1, 1842, p. 7); ‘6 Fl. broschirt’ (Intelligenz-Blatt zur Cäcilia No. 81, 1842, p. 11).