Posts tagged: William Caxton

’Text and illustration in early books and manuscripts: A comparative study” conference report from Ed Potten and Laura Nuvoloni

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By , 27 January 2014 12:04 pm

In December 2013, Ed Potten and Laura Nuvoloni travelled to Japan, at the invitation of Keio University, to participate in the international conference Text and illustration in early books and manuscripts: A comparative study. The conference, held on 13 and 14 December, was organised by Professor Takami Matsuda and Dr Satoko Tokunaga of the EIRI Project, with the collaboration of Dr Mayumi Ikeda, Postdoctoral Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.  Keio University and Cambridge University have long had close ties. Cambridge’s copy of the Gutenberg Bible was the first to be digitized by the HUMI Project team in November 1998, led by Professor Toshiyuki Takamiya, himself a long-standing friend of Cambridge University Library and member of the Library’s Visiting Committee. Continue reading '’Text and illustration in early books and manuscripts: A comparative study” conference report from Ed Potten and Laura Nuvoloni'»

Who oweth thys boke?

By , 31 January 2012 4:26 pm

The cipher in Inc.5.J.1.1(3490)

While working through the English incunables I came across a couple of provenance marks unidentified (indeed unmentioned) by Oates. The first occurs on a parchment fly leaf bound into the front of Lydgate’s Stans puer ad mensam (Westminster: William Caxton, ca. 1476) (Inc.5.J.1.1[3490]). It is an elaborate cipher apparently concealing all the letters of the owner’s name. 

The book was originally the first in a volume of eight verse tracts all printed at Westminster by Caxton in about 1476. It also bears the name of John Fawler in a sixteenth century hand, and was later in the library of John Moore, Bishop of Ely. Many other names appear in other tracts from the volume, including George Ferrers, Paul Haynes, Thomas Halm, Henry Birkenhead, Thomas Bristow, Thomas Drewe and “Arundell” (not, apparently, the 12th Earl of Arundell whose manuscripts are preserved in the British Library).

The rebus in Inc.7.J.1.2(3543)

Still more mysterious is the rebus which appears at the end of Lyndwood’s Constitutiones provinciales (Westminster : Wynkyn de Worde, 31 May 1496) (Inc.7.J.1.2[3543]). This appears to depict a barrel surrounded by what may be a horse’s bit. Rebuses or canting devices are quite common in books of this period, and a similar example is found in Inc.1.B.3.1b[3730], an edition of Bartolus de Saxoferrato, Lectura super prima parte Codicis ([Venice] : Vindelinus de Spira, [1471]), formerly owned by Cardinal John Morton. Morton’s rebus depicts a barrel (or “tun”) with the letters “MOR” written on it to signify the Cardinal’s surname. Another incunable with Morton’s rebus in it can be found in Trinity College Library, and has recently been described by Katja Airaksinen (“The Morton Missal: the finest incunable made in England” Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, vol. XIV, pt. 2 (2009), pp. 147-172). It seems reasonable to assume that the early owner of the Constitutiones also had a surname ending in “-ton”, and I can’t help wondering if he might actually have been a Mr Bitton (if the other item in the rebus is indeed a horse’s bit). However, no Bittons are listed among the early members of Oxford or Cambridge Universities and the name does not appear among recorded owners of early books.

John Morton's rebus in Inc.1.B.3.1b(3730)

These are two former owners who will probably remain anonymous; we have however produced a list of those individuals whom we have succeeded in identifying (at least to the extent of providing a name and a possible date). It is supplemented by a list of institutional owners. Corrections and additions to these lists (and suggestions as to who the mysterious former owners of the books described above might be) are welcome.

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

Bibliography

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.