Category: Publisher

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.

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.