Glasgow Incunabula Project update (2/12/11)

Here are the links to the latest ten books added to the project website:

Our copy of Livy’s Historiae Romanae decades has an early Scottish provenance. There are several inscriptions by Walter Ogilvie (b. ca. 1460?), who is mentioned by Hector Boece in his Episcoporum Murthlacensium et Aberdonensium vitae (originally printed in 1522).

Ownership inscription of Walter Ogilvie

Ownership inscription of Walter Ogilvie (Sp Coll Bn8-d.2)

Boece was a student and then Regent at the Collège de Montaigu in the University of Paris in the 1480s/90s. Here he mixed with many illustrious scholars, including Erasmus. Describing his days in Paris, he mentions several fellow Scotsmen who were studying there at the same time. Amongst these is “our” Walter Ogilvie who was apparently “possessed of such a flood of oratorical power, that one would have said that he not only delighted, but (so to speak) even revelled and luxuriated in copiousness of diction, elegance of speech and wealth of wisdom” (quoting James Moir’s English translation of Boece – Sp Coll Mu38-b.19). Perhaps Ogilvie picked up some rhetorical tricks from Tacitus – and perhaps it was in Paris that he acquired this Venetian incunable. We do not know much more about him, except that he wrote a panagyric in praise of Henry VII that survives in a manuscript copy in the National Library of Scotland.

Woodcut of book fool from Sebastian Brant

Book fool (Sp Coll BD16-e.4)

I must also mention the two copies of the Stultifera Navis by Sebastian Brant which are indexed in this batch, since this gives me the excuse to post the woodcut illustration of a book fool – an image which I daresay is dear to the hearts of many rare book librarians.

The Ship of Fools was first published in German in 1494. The two copies mentioned here are of the translation into Latin by Jacob Locher which was printed in 1498.

The work is surely one of the most celebrated illustrated books of the 15th century. There is actually, however, some uncertainty as to who was responsible for the woodcuts – some reference sources attribute them to the “Meister der Bergmannschen Offizin”, and others ascribe them to Albrecht Dürer.

We have an archived book of  the month article on the 1509 English adaptaion of the work if you want to find out more.

Categories: Library, Special Collections

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