Category: Binder waste

Three Unique Caxton/Maynyal Leaves? – A post by Ed Potten

By , 9 February 2011 11:50 am

Sig. r4, one of the leaves wanting from the only surviving substantially-complete copy

Between 1487 and 1488 Caxton commissioned the production of two liturgical books from the Parisian printer Guillaume Maynyal, both of which are rare survivals. ISTC records only one substantially-complete copy and two fragments of the 1487 Sarum Missal [ISTC im00719200 – National Trust (wanting 23ff.), Durham (3 ff.), Oxford (2 ff.)] and one substantially-complete copy and four fragments of the 1488 Sarum Legenda [ISTC il00118200 – British Library (imperfect), Cambridge UL (29 ff.,  Inc.2.D.1.18[2544]), Cambridge Clare (fragments), Cambridge Corpus (fragments), Paris BN (fragments)].

To reproduce liturgical books successfully, incunable printers needed to overcome significant typographical complications, not least the need to print in more than one colour. At the press he established in Bruges in 1473, Caxton, under the tutelage of Colard Mansion, experimented somewhat unsuccessfully with ‘one-pull’ two-colour printing. The eventual adoption of a ‘two-pull’ process overcame this problem, but liturgical printing on a large scale required a higher degree of technical proficiency than was available in the late 1480s at Caxton’s Westminster press. As a consequence the printer sought to ‘out-source’ the work. By 1487 the printing of liturgical books, some coloured, some specifically for English use, was already well established on the Continent – ISTC currently records 118 missal books and 196 breviaries printed on the Continent prior to 1488, with two breviaries specifically for Sarum use. Specialising in the production of these typographically-complex works, the printers of Venice, Basel, Louvain, Rouen and Paris cornered the market in liturgical printing and were the logical choice for the printing of English liturgical books. Caxton’s chosen partner was Guillaume Maynyal, a Parisian with proven experience of liturgical printing in red and black.

ISTC records only nine issues associated with Maynyal, surviving cumulatively in only 76 copies. These are grouped into two periods. Between March 1479/80 and September 1480 his name appears in five colophons alongside that of Ulrich Gering in books including a Psalterium Romanum and a copy of Guido de Monte Rochen’s guide for priests, Manipulus curatorum. In 1487 and 1488 he worked for Caxton, then in 1489 he issued alone two further liturgical books, a Latin Psalterium and a Manuale Carnotense. The fragments of the 1488 Legenda are the only example of Maynyal’s work in the CUL collection.

The decision to out-source to Maynyal is significant. Printing in England before 1534 was dominated by, and dependent upon, foreign tradesmen. In 1484 Richard III had introduced legislation exempting “merchant strangers” from any restrictions on either printing in England or bringing in books from abroad. The contracting-out of complex work to foreign presses and the immigration of skilled Continental printers and tradesmen became the lifeblood of the English print trade. Caxton’s employment of Maynyal is the first known example of this trend.

Set in two sizes of type, the Sarum Missal and Legenda may be seen as marking the beginnings of a transition in the typographical appearance of English books, away from styles characteristic of Flanders and Cologne, and towards type-styles imported from Paris and Rouen. Following the partnership between the two printers, Caxton purchased type from Paris, probably from Maynyal himself.

The study of any type of printed output of the fifteenth century is hampered by the quantity of material lost to researchers. Certain classes of books, however, have suffered more significant losses than others; printed liturgies are one such class. Their poor survival rate is at least partially explicable by their practical nature and the type of daily use to which they were exposed. With the exception of the most lavish, printed liturgies were working books. Often associated with chapels and chantries they saw heavy use by multiple priests on every day of the liturgical year. Not considered ‘collectable’ for their antiquity until well into the eighteenth century, these hard-used books were superseded and discarded. In England, the 1549 Act of Uniformity and its successors further explain the paucity of surviving pre-Edwardian liturgies, whilst in Catholic Europe the imposition of the Missale Romanum after 1570 had a similar effect.

The provenance of at least some of the Cambridge fragments is traceable. One leaf bears a clearly recognisable shelfmark, Pp.1.167, indicating it was once part of the binding of a copy of the Opera of Jacques Cujas (Frankfurt: 1595) belonging to John Colbatch (1664-1748).

The bookplate of John Colbatch (1664-1748)

The leaves of the Sarum Legenda utilized by the original binder were removed and preserved when the book was rebound in 1937. There are other occasional tantalizing hints about the earlier use of the Legenda. References to Pope Gregory have been crossed through on sig. y3v and references to the translation of St. Thomas excised on sig L7r, suggesting it was in English hands in the first half of the sixteenth century. In addition, there is an intriguing Hebrew inscription on sig. y6v, which is currently being researched.

References to the translation of St. Thomas excised on sig L7r

The 29 leaves which survive at Cambridge are:

Sigs. r4, v1, v8, y1, y2, y3 and y6 (conjugate), y7, y8, z1, L1 (2 copies), L2, L3, L7, L8 (2 copies), M6, N1, P4, P5, Q2, Q5, Q7, T4 (final line of both columns cropped on verso), T5 (first two lines of both columns cropped recto and verso), V3, V4 (cropped), (2)b1. There is one additional fragment, which is too small to identify.

Sigs. r4, Q2 and Q7 are almost certainly unique – they are wanting from the only surviving substantially-complete copy, that at the British Library (IB.40010), and in the absence of a definite identification of the fragments in Clare, Corpus and the BN they are at present the only known surviving examples of these three leaves.                       Ed Potten


W. Blades The biography and typography of William Caxton (London: 1882) p. 52.

P. Gaskell A new introduction to bibliography (Delaware: 1995) pp. 137-8.

L. Hellinga (ed.) Catalogue of books printed in the XVth century now in the British Library – Part XI England, (The Netherlands: 2007) p. 342, 346.

L. Hellinga ‘Fragments found in bindings and their role as evidence’ in ‘For the love of the binding’ Studies in bookbinding history presented to Mirjam Foot (London: 2000) pp. 13-33.

P. Needham ‘Caxton, William (c.1422-1491)’ in Europe 1450 to 1789 Encyclopedia of the early modern world volume 1 (New York: 2004) p.430.

Paul Needham’s Index Possessorum Incunabulorum (IPI)

By , 25 January 2011 12:45 pm

The publication of Paul Needham’s Index Possessorum Incunabulorum (IPI) in the online Provenance Research pages provided by the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL) is a most welcome addition to the useful provenance tools offered by CERL to bibliographers, librarians and cataloguers of early printed books.

Three days after the announcement of its publication in December 2010, the Index allowed me to identify the hitherto anonymous owner of the Cambridge University Library copy of a collection of Pseudo-Augustinian sermons published in Cologne by Ulrich Zel around 1468-69 (ISTC ia01303000), Inc.5.A.4.1[254].

The front page of the book bears a stamp described as “two C’s addorsed and interlaced belneath a coronet” in the incunable catalogues of the Cambridge University Library (CUL), published by Oates in 1954, and of the Bodleian Library at Oxford, published in 2005. A similar description in IPI, “addorsed C’s below coronet of 7 points”, allowed me to identify the stamp in the CUL book with the one used for his collection by George Friedrich Creuzer (1771-1858), philologist and professor at Marburg and Heidelberg.

Consequently, we can now associate to the  Creuzer’s collection four other CUL incunabula displaying the same stamp.  They are as follows: 1. Jacobus [Palladinus] de Theramo. Consolatio peccatorum, seu Processus Belial. [Strassburg : Heinrich Knoblochtzer], 1484 (ISTC ij00070000), Inc.3.A.2.8[3819]; 2. Pius II, Pont. Max. (formerly Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini). Dialogus contra Bohemos atque Thaboritas de sacra communione corporis Christi. [Cologne: Ulrich Zel, not after 1472](ISTC ip00668000), Inc.5.A.4.1[281]; 3. Jacobus Van Den Driesche [Dreische, or Driessen]. De indulgentiis et miraculis psalterium Virginis Mariae concernentibus, with Alexander Forliviensis. Copia bullae indulgentiarum de Rosario Mariae, and Sixtus IV. Copia probationis fraternitatis Mariae “Pastoris aeterni”. Cologne : Arnold Ther Hoernen, 12 November 1478 (ISTC id00366350), Inc.5.A.4.2[355]; 4. Dialogus inter clericum et militem super dignitate papali et regia. [Deventer : Richardus Pafraet], 31 January 1491 (ISTC id00153000), Inc.5.E.4.3[2962].

As a gesture of gratitude to both Paul Needham and CERL, I would like to share some new information regarding the former owner of another book in CUL, Inc.4.A.32.1[4169].  The volume is a sammelband and includes: a) Mensa philosophica. Heidelberg : [Heinrich Knoblochtzer] for Jakob Köbel, [after 28 March] 1489 (ISTC im00495000) – b) [Pseudo-] Seneca [i.e. Martinus de Braga]. De quattuor virtutibus cardinalibus, sive De formula honestae vitae. [Speyer : Conrad Hist, ca. 1500] (ISTC is00423000) – c) [Pseudo-] Seneca. Proverbia. [Cologne : Cornelis de Zierikzee, ca. 1500] (ISTC is00404000).

The title page of the Mensa philosophica, the first book in the volume, displays an ownership inscription, datable to the late 16th or early 17th century, that reads “Ioannes Rodolphus ab Erlach” followed by the words “Nasci Laborare Mori”.

Through a quick Google search, I located an identical inscription in volumes 2 and 3 of a copy of Antonio de Guevara and Aegidius Albertinus, Der guldenen Sendtschreiben. Durch der. Hoffraths Secretarium Aegidium Albertinum, auss der Hispanischen in die Teutsche Sprach auffs fleissigst verwendt. München : Adam Berg, 1599 (vol. III), 1600 (vol. II) and 1607 (vol. I), property of the Basel antiquarian booksellers Erasmushaus.  Timur Yueksel of the firm kindly informed me that the inscription in their book was indeed written by the same hand and that the motto “Nasci Laborare Mori” corresponds to the family motto of the von Erlachs, a prominent family of politicians, administrators and military commanders of Bern in Switzerland.

In the booksellers’s online description of Der guldenen Sendtschreiben, “Ioannes Rodolphus ab Erlach” is identified with Johann Rudolf von Erlach of Hindelbank (1585-1643), seigneur of Riggisberg, Rümlingen, Champvent and La Molte, bailiff of Verdon in 1624, member of the Parliament of Burgundy in 1633, and colonel of the Bernese regiment in the French army in 1635. According to the Dictionnaire historique et biographique de la Suisse, however, the owner of CUL and Erasmushaus books could be identified also with the representative of another branch of the family, i.e. Johann Rudolf von Erlach (1577-1628), bailiff of Moudon in 1604 (see Dictionnaire historique et biographique de la Suisse, vol. 3, Neuchatel, 1926, pp. 6, 7).

CUL sammelband is bound in brown calfskin over pasteboards, with blind-tolled decoration.  The binding is datable to the early 16th century and appears to be the first. The rather amateurish tooling creates a pattern of flourished arches interspersed with fleurs-de-lis in rhomboid frames, with a square strapwork stamp along the edges.  The decoration is identical on both the upper and the lower cover.  The comparison with other Bernese bindings published in Johann Lindt, Berner Einbände Buchbinder und Buchdrucker Beiträge zur Buchkunde 15. bis 19. Jahrhundert. Bern : [1969], suggests that the binding of the Cambridge sammelband could also be Suisse (possibly from Bern ?).

There is another feature of the binding that could help us in the identification of its origin: the upper pastedown is a a parchment fragment from an 11th-century Breviary in Caroline script of northern origin (pasted up-side-down). Its text corresponds to readings for the 3rd Sunday of Lent, as Giacomo Baroffio kindly informs me.

We would be grateful for information regarding other books with corresponding ownership inscriptions, bindings decorated with comparable tools, and fragments from a similar manuscript in Caroline script used as binder waste in early 16th-century bindings of Swiss origin.

I wish to thank Dr Timur Yueksel of Erasmushaus, Dr Sabine Schlüter of  Universitätsbibliothek Bern, Dr Anthony Hobson and Prof. Giacomo Baroffio for their kind assistance and suggestions.