Category: Project

Paul Needham’s masterclass at Cambridge University Library – A post by Satoko Tokunaga (Keio University)

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By , 18 July 2011 11:54 am


Henry Bradshaw

On the afternoon of June 7, a workshop entitled “Collation and Composition in the Fifteenth Century” was conducted by Dr Paul Needham in the Sir Geoffrey Keynes Room, a perfect place for this special occasion. The main topic of this workshop was, as the title reveals, the collation and composition of incunabula. Borrowing Dr Needham’s words, it was a most timely topic for this workshop, for 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the “invention” of the collational formula by Henry Bradshaw (1831-86), an eminent bibliographer and librarian with a deep connection with Cambridge.

The collation is essential for us to learn, and most of us probably learned about it in foundational texts such as W. W. Greg’s “Formulary of Collation” (The Library (1934), 4th ser. XIV. no. 4), Fredson Bowers’ Principles of Bibliographical Description (1949; repr. 1994, etc.) and Philip Gaskell’s New Introduction to Bibliography (1972; corrected ed. 1974; paperback ed. 1995, etc.). Needless to say, bibliographers are trained to describe a book using the collational formula. It is an essential but not an easy task. I cannot help asking myself how much of my life I have spent counting the number of leaves in books. Of course, counting matters in the book world, but Dr Needham raised a further essential question: What, then, is collation? Why does it matter? In this workshop, we were awakened by this fundamental question, and through his wonderfully clear talk, together with stunningly beautiful books, we were able to see how much collation can reveal about the composition of a book, which provides new insights into the actual process of early printing.


First, Dr Needham pointed out that few people described the concept of collation and also that little acknowledgement was made of Bradshaw’s invention. Using Bradshaw’s handwritten memo on the collation of a mid-15th century manuscript in the Scheide Library, Dr Needham emphasized that Bradshaw’s method could reveal the physical composition or structure of a book in a simpler but clearer way than those proposed by scholars after him, such as Greg and Bowers. Then, he showed an example of the collational formula, using the CUL copy of the Gutenberg Bible (B42) [ISTC ib00526000], i.e. Inc.1.A.1.1[3761]. Of course, it does not mean that Bradshaw’s method can solve anything; there may be some limitations (and in the midst of the workshop, it was hotly argued whether there was any perfect method that could both describe the collation of an ideal copy and record the physical condition of a copy at hand, such as a lack of leaves, in a single and clear form). However, it has certain merits, for example, making a singleton leaf in a quire explicit. In a bibliographical study, such an anomaly may reveal something about book production, and Dr Needham presented the case that the blank page of the singleton in quire 25 of the B42 might explain something about the editorial decision (or hesitation?) to include the apocryphal chapter 4 of Ezra, using a handout of the collation formula handwritten by himself.

Indeed, to collate a book, we need not only to count the number of leaves, but also to scrutinize the book itself. Then, we might get a chance to find what has not been unearthed over hundreds of years, as Dr Needham did. In the last part of the workshop, he told of a wonderful episode concerning his discovery of an exemplar, as if restaging it, using the actual books he had examined. More than two decades ago, he found that “#” marks appeared regularly in the CUL copy of the B42 and further identified that they matched the page breaks of the third of the Vulgate editions printed in Strassburg by Heinrich Eggestein, c. 1469 [ISTC ib00533000], a copy of which is  Inc.1.A.2.3[84] in CUL .

[The images reproduce the beginning of the Gospel of Luke in the Gutenberg Bible, vol. 2, leaves [217] verso – [218] recto in vol. 2, and the Eggestein Bible, vol. 2, leaf [215] verso]


[The marginal marks on the leaves of the CUL copy of the Gutenberg Bible match the beginning and the end of the text on leaf [215] verso of the Eggestein Bible]


This means that the “#” marks were addedby compositor(s) in Eggestein’s printing shop in Strassburg and the CUL copy of the B42 served as the copy-text for Eggestein’s edition. In fact, this observation matched a study on illumination by Prof. Eberhard König, who proposed that the CUL copy of the B42 had been illuminated in either Basel or Strassburg. In early printing, there survive only a few books whose copy-texts have been identified, and it is therefore amazing to find such an example among monumental books like the B42.

What I have summed up here is only part of the talk. For example, details about Dr Needham’s discovery of the CUL copy of the B42 being used as a copy-text can be found in his article “A Gutenberg Bible Used as Printer’s Copy by Heinrich Eggestein in Strassburg, ca. 1469”, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, 9 (1986). On Henry Bradshaw, see his The Bradshaw Method: Henry Bradshaw’s Contribution to Bibliography (1988). After listening to his talk, I can vividly envisage what he explains in his articles, and above all, I find more joy in collation than ever before. It is all thanks to his well-organized talk and the preparation by the staff of the Rare Books Room. Indeed, it was really wonderful to have the original materials, and it was generous of the organizers to allow attendees to freely examine them during and after the workshop. Moreover, questions from the attendees were fascinating (and the size of the group was perfect for that), though they sometimes interrupted the flow of Dr Needham’s talk. Nevertheless, he gave deliberate thought to answering all of them, always getting his talk back on track beautifully. While writing this, I am still excited that I was able to be there, and I am sincerely grateful to Dr Needham and the staff of the Munby Rare Books Room for organizing the workshop. I am looking forward to future occasions!

Satoko Tokunaga

June 2011

The First Thousand! – A post by William Hale and Laura Nuvoloni

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By , 19 May 2011 10:18 am

On 16th March 2011 the Incunable Project Team (William Hale, Laura Nuvoloni and Ed Potten) catalogued its 1000th book and published the record in Newton, the Cambridge University Library online catalogue.

The palm for the 1000th book to be catalogued by the team is contended for by a Missale ad usum Sarum published in Westminster by Julian Notary and Jean Barbier for Wynkyn de Worde on  20 December 1498 and the Biblia latina published in Mainz by Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer on 14 August 1462.  This small milestone adds nothing to the history of the two books, as each of them represents an important edition in its own right, the missal being the first printed in England, the Bible the earliest to bear the name of its printers and the printing date.  The milestone nevertheless marks the publication of catalogue descriptions for more than a fifth of the incunable holdings of the library, a significant step in the progress of the Incunabula Project at almost exactly 1 year and 5 months from its effective initial date on 13th October 2009.  With the cataloguing pace on the increase from month to month, the team is well on target for achieving the cataloguing of the circa 4,700 incunabula within the 5-year fixed term project.

As a previous post by Ed Potten noted, early English editions of the Sarum liturgy were printed in Paris for English publishers. The Missal of 1498 (Inc.3.J.1.3[3576]) was commissioned by Caxton’s successsor Wynkyn de Worde; the actual printing was performed by two French expatriates: the Breton-born Julian Notary and Jean Barbier, about whom very little is known. The work called not only for printing throughout in red and black, but also for music notation. Printing of music was then in its very early stages and Notary and Barbier only provided the stave, leaving the notes to be filled in by hand if needed.

The missal bears an inscription recording its donation to the Chapel at Kew. This was a short-lived private chapel attached to Kew Farm, near the site of the present Palace, which was in existence only from 1522 to 1534. At a later date references to the pope and to St Thomas of Canterbury were crossed out, as is common in English liturgical books, the cult of St Thomas having been suppressed in 1538, four years after the Act of Supremacy placed Henry VIII at the head of the Church of England. In this case, the references were left sufficiently legible to be re-instated if the tide of religious reform should start to recede.

The book’s history during the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is unrecorded. In 1693 it was given by one “Arnold de Wycomb” to George Whitton. Whitton was a graduate of King’s College and native of Wycombe in Buckinghamshire who incorporated at Oxford in the same year he received the book; the unidentified Arnold is presumably a relative or family friend from the same place. The Missal must have passed into the collection of Bishop John Moore shortly after that date and would have reached the library with the remainder of the Bishop’s collection in 1715. It was probably given its rather workaday half-leather binding shortly afterwards.

The library owns 6 copies of the 1462 Bible: one almost complete vellume copy, one copy of part 1 of the second volume, and 4 fragments, one of which belonging to the Bible Society.  The vellum copy of the 1462 Bible (Inc.1.A.1.3a[3762]) is certainly one of the highlights among the books catalogued so far.  It is lavishly decorated by partial borders and initials in foliate design in colours and gold which have been recently attributed by the art historian Mayumi Ikeda to an imitator of the Furst Master operating in the late 1460s or early 1470s possibly in Heidelberg.  The Bible came to the library only in 1933 through a donation by Arthur William Young.  Neither of the known previous owners, the unidentified Renard du Hursan or Hursau whose name appears at the end of the second volume with the date 1573, and the English Victor Albert George Child-Villiers of Osterley Park, 7th earl of Jersey, left any trace in the book.

Felice Feliciano annotator of Valturio, De re militari, 1472

By , 28 September 2010 12:23 pm
Cambridge University Library holds two copies of Roberto Valturio, De re militari, printed in Verona by Johannes Nicolai in 1472 (ISTC iv00088000).  The first copy, Inc.2.B.19.1[2158], fully rubricated and decorated by puzzle initials in red and blue and beautifully bound for Marie Elisabeth Auguste von Sulzbach, has already been mentioned in the post dedicated to William Mitchell, one of its later owners.

r10 recto

The second copy was donated to the library by Samuel Sandars in 1894 (SSS.4.14).  In rather worse physical condition than the other copy, this second exemplar is in fact more important in the history of the edition itself as the manuscript captions to the woodcut images of war machines are in the hand of Felice Feliciano (1433-ca. 1480), the “antiquarius”, humanist, scribe, artist, binder, alchemist, goldsmith, and typographer from Verona, who was one of the most eccentric and inventive protagonists of the Italian Renaissance.

r9 verso

The captions were added by Feliciano partly in epigraphic capitals and partly in humanistic cursive minuscule.

r9 verso

r10 recto

a1 recto

He also wrote the heading on the first page of the treatise in his characteristic epigraphic capitals of alternating blue and red [my attribution to Feliciano's hand of the manuscript additions was kindly confirmed by Stefano Zamponi in private correspondence].


Feliciano’s hitherto unnoticed contribution to the Cambridge University Library Valturio is less extensive but nevertheless comparable to his rubrications in the Vatican Library copy (Stampato Rossiano 1335), which was first discovered by Augusto Campana, who wrote about it in a famous article published in 1940 (“Felice Feliciano e la prima edizione del Valturio”, Maso Finiguerra, V.3 (1940), 211-222).

In the Vatican copy Feliciano also applied the same system of catchwords or symbols to signal the end of quires, and supplied coloured initials, titles and rubrics to the books and chapters, as well as running titles, whereas he left the rubrication of the Cambridge copy incomplete.

The captions to the woodcut images did not originate with Feliciano: they reproduce the captions devised by Valturio himself to accompany the drawings of the war machines in the seven manuscripts written under his direct supervision by the scribe Sigismundus Nicolai Alemannus, including Vat. Urb. lat. 281, the earliest manuscript signed by Sigismondus in 1462, and Firenze, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Pluteo xlvi.3, copied around 1472, i.e. the same year as the Verona edition:

The captions were therefore an essential part of Valturio’s original text.  Consequentially, they were also faithfully reproduced in the fourteen other extant manuscripts of his work signed by or attributed to other scribes, including a manuscript in the Riccardiana Library in Florence, Riccardiano 794 (cf., which has been identified by Teresa de’ Robertis as being in the hand of Feliciano himself and possibly produced in the late 1460s or the 1470s (Teresa De Robertis, “Feliciano copista di Valturio”, in Tra libri e carte. Studi in onore di Luciana Mosiici, ed. by T. De Robertis and G. Savino, Firenze, 1998, 73-97).

In the manuscripts the captions were added in colour, usually light purple ink, next to the technical drawings of the war machines at the same time as the decoration, i.e. after the copying of the text.  It is not surprising, therefore, that they came to be considered as part of the rubrication and, as a result, remained unprinted in the 1472 edition in order to be added by hand at a later stage.  In consequence, they are absent from surviving copies of the edition which were never rubricated.  In other copies, however, it was the rubricators supplying the titles to the individual books and the running titles who omitted them, as in the Sulzbach copy in the Cambridge University Library and in the exemplars held in the Bodleian Library in Oxford (Bod-Inc V-041).

c5 verso

c7 verso

These omissions were regarded as mistakes by Paolo Ramusio, the editor of the second edition of Valturius’s work, printed  in Verona by Bonino Bonini in 1483 (Inc.2.B.19.4[2163]).  In his introduction Ramusio stated that his aim was to restore Valturio’s text to its original form and integrity.  In Ramusio’s edition, therefore, the captions to the illustrations were duly printed as part of the text, as can be seen when we compare the images that illustrate how to measure the height of a tower in copies of the first and secon editions.

r8 verso

s6 verso

Ramusio’s complaints seem amply justified given Feliciano’s occasional carelessness in reproducing the woodcut captions: see the repetition and cancellation of a word on fols [r8] verso and [s6] verso of the incunable SSS.4.14 , and the omission of the letter “T” in the word “INSTRVMENTVM” on fol. 131v of the Riccardiano manuscript 194 .

The discovery of Feliciano’s hand in the Cambridge exemplar of the 1472 edition adds this book to the number of his known manuscripts.  However, we are still left with the open question whether he actively collaborated in the making of the printed edition and its illustrations.  Our knowledge of Feliciano’s life is still sketchy, but it seems that around 1471-1472, at the time the book was produced, he was not residing in Verona but in Bologna and Ferrara. It is of course possible that Feliciano was simply requested to annotate some copies of the edition during a short visit to his home town.  We do know, however, that in 1475 and again in 1476 he was directly involved in the production of printed books: in the autumn of 1475 he collaborated with the typographer Severino da Ferrara in the publication of Baldassare da Fossombrone’s poem Il menzognero ovvero Bosadrello, Albertus Trottus’s De vero et perfecto clerico, and  Angelus de Gambilionibus’s Tractatus de maleficiis, and Benevenutus Grassus’ s De oculis eorumque aegritudinibus et curis (ISTC ib00034200, ISTC it00478000, ISTC ig00060500, ISTC ig00352000).  He was also apparently involved in the printing of an antisemitical text in Verona on 22 May 1475.  Finally, on 1 October 1476, he and Innocente Ziletti put their joint names on the edition of Petrarch’s De viris illustribus in the Italian translation by Donato degli Albanzani (ISTC ip00415000).

Feliciano’s printing ventures are perhaps unsurprising when we consider that in 1460 he had been identified as aurifex, i.e. goldsmith, in his brother Andrea’s will:  it is a well known fact that goldsmiths, such as Gutenberg, Ratdolt and Jenson, played a pivotal role in the development of the printing industry in 15th-century Europe.  Nevertheless, no documentary evidence of his involvement in the production of the 1472 Valturius edition has surfaced so far.  The two rubricated copies in the Vatican and Cambridge University Library, are too small a sample to confirm this hypothesis and the question must remain for the moment unanswered.  Only a long overdue complete survey of all the 76 extant copies of the edition, possibly combined with a critical edition of the printed text in comparison with the manuscript tradition, and an analysis of Feliciano’s copy in particular, may provide us with an answer.

For the time being, I can only say with confidence that Feliciano’s hand is not present in the two Oxford exemplars, Douce 267 and 289, whose rubrication has been described as “in the style of Felice Feliciano” in the catalogue of the Bodleian incunables (Bod-Ink V-041; reproductions of the two books were kindly provided to me by Irene Ceccherini, courtesy of the Bodleian Library).  The illuminated initials in Douce 289 are very close in style to those found in the copies of the edition held in the Biblioteca Civica in Verona (Inc. 1084) and the Biblioteca Universitaria in Padova (Sec. XV. 677), where we also find the same rubricator, giving the impression that these copies were rubricated and illuminated “in series”.


Augusto Campana, “Felice Feliciano e la prima edizione del Valturio”, Maso Finiguerra, V.3 (1940), 211-222.

Daniela Fattori, “Spigolature su Felice Feliciano da Verona”, La Bibliofilia, XCIV.3 (1992), 263-269.

L’ ‘Antiquario’ Felice Feliciano 1995:  L’ ‘Antiquario’ Felice Feliciano veronese. Tra epigrafia antica, letteratura e arti del libro. Atti del Convegno di Studi, Verona 1993, ed. A. Contò and L. Quaquarelli, Padua, 1995 (Medioevo e Umanesimo, 89), in particular Agostino Contò, “Non scripto calamo. Felice Feliciano e la tipografia”, 289-312.

Agostino Contò in Mantegna e le Arti a Verona 2006:  Mantegna e le Arti a Verona 1450-1500, [exhibition catalogue], ed. S. Marinelli and P. Marini, Venice, 2006, 455-6, no. 188.

Donatella Frioli, “Per la tradizione manoscritta di Roberto Valturio. Appunti e spunti di ricerca”, in Roberto Valturio, De re military. Saggi critici, ed. by Paola Delbianco, Rimini and Milan, 2006, 69-93.

Agostino Conto’, “Da Rimini a Verona: le edizioni quattrocentesche del De re militari”, in Roberto Valturio, cit., 95-104.

Donatella Frioli, “Da Rimini a Verona: Roberto Valturio, Domenico Foschi e Felice Feliciano”, in Virtute et labore. Studi offerti a Giuseppe Avarucci per i suoi settant’anni, ed. by Rosa Maria Borraccini and Giammario Borri, II, Spoleto, 2008, 1073-1109.

A rare Savonarola edition

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By , 21 May 2010 4:20 pm

A copy of the Expositio in Psalmum L (51) “Miserere mei deus” (F150.d.6.5) has been identified as an exemplar of the edition attributed to Johannes Tacuinus de Tridino in Venice around 1500 (ISTC is00214200 and GW M40516), adding this rare edition to the 73 editions of Savonarola’s works held at Cambridge University Library.

The book was purchased for the library at the sale of Jean de Meyer’s collection in Antwerp on 2 November 1869 on suggestion of Henry Bradshaw, the University librarian.  The author of the sale catalogue, Camille Vyt, had identified it as the edition printed by Thierry Martens in Antwerp around 1502 (Catalogue des livres et manuscrits formant la bibliothèque de feu M. Jean de Meyer, Ghent, 2-5 November 1869, p. 27, lot 101/c).  As this attribution was accepted by Bradshaw, the book was classified by the library among the foreign books published after 1500.  It therefore escaped the attention of J.C.T. Oates when he was compiling his catalogue of the library’s incunables.  In the recent Newton catalogue, the book was correctly recognised as a pre-1500 edition but described as a copy of the 1499 Florentine edition by Bartolommeo di Libri, despite its apparent difference from the two other copies of Bartolommeo’s edition held by the library.

In fact, the book can be securely identified as a rare exemplar of Tacuino’s edition:  the number of leaves and the incipits and explicits of the commentary to the psalm and of the Oratio before Communion inItalian (leaf B8 recto) correspond to those described for this edition in GW M40516, the manuscript version of the Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke, whose digital images are also available in ISTC.

Tacuino’s edition is known to survive in only five other exemplars in Germany Libraries (Darmstadt, Düsseldorf (2), Giessen, and Köln).  The Cambridge copy is the only one outside Germany. The poor survival rate of the edition (no exemplar is known to survive in Italy), can be explained with the ban, destruction and inclusion in the Index of Prohibited Books (Index Librorum Prohibitorum) of all Savonarola’s writings by order of Pope Alexander VI Borgia, who was furious with Savonarola for publicly denouncing his immoral conduct and the corruption of the Roman Curia.