In my last blog I promised more Bibles and more books from the press of Anton Koberger. In this batch we find the two happily married in duplicate copies of another Latin Nuremberg Bible, printed by Koberger in 1475.
Both are decorated – the Euing copy with handsome illuminated initials and foliate intertwining penwork stems and borders, and the Hunterian copy with perhaps less professionally executed (but to my eye, at least, still rather charming) painted initials which occasionally incorporate grotesque faces.
Our copy of Vincent of Beauvais’ Speculum doctrinale, meanwhile, must win the prize for being the biggest book of the batch. This beast of a volume is 404 leaves long and measures over 50 cm x 33 cm. Although we record each book’s dimensions and leaf sizes on the project website, it is really only seeing (and lifting) these books in reality that you truly appreciate the vast size and weight of some of them.
Although its 16th-century tooled pigskin binding is now somewhat dilapidated (it has lost its original corner-pieces, centre-piece and clasps, for example), it is of interest because it retains an early labelling mechanism. The title of the work has been given in manuscript on the front board, and this vital information is still protected by a horn window which is secured to the board by two brass strips. The volume’s pastedowns are also noteworthy. They are both made of parchment fragments from a late medieval manuscript, written in the same hand; the text of the front fragment has been identified as coming from a copy of St Augustine’s Enarratio in Psalmum (108, 17-18), with an initial engrossed with our second face of the day, while the rear contains excerpts from Ezekiel (20:32-43 and 23:32-43). If you are interested in exploring other manuscript fragments in our incunabula, you trace them in our other features index.
The final highlight from this batch is another of our Caxton editions: the Polycronicon printed between 2 July and 8 October 1482, edited and updated with a continuation from 1384-1460 by William Caxton. It is Caxton’s addition to bring the work bang up to date for its contemporary readers that includes information on the new art of printing:
the Crafte of Enpryntyng was fyrst founde in magounce [Mainz] in Almayne [Germany] whiche crafte is multyplyed thurgh the world in many places and bookes ben had grete chepe and in grete nombre by cause of the same crafte
You may have seen this quote cited in the glossary section of our Ingenious Impressions exhibition. And if you haven’t, then time is beginning to run out: we are now in the final month and the exhibition closes on 21 June, so don’t prevaricate any longer! In the meantime, there are more English books coming up in the next bucket, so watch this space because another Caxton and a couple of Pynsons are coming your way soon.
The latest ten books added to the project website are:
- Biblia latina Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 16 Nov. 1475 [two copies]
- Angelus de Clavasio: Summa angelica de casibus conscientiae Strassburg: Martin Flach (printer of Strassburg), 1 Dec. 1491
- Alliaco, Petrus de: Questiones super libros Sententiarum Petri Lombardi [Brussels: Fratres Vitae Communis, between 9 June 1481 and 1484]
- Vincentius Bellovacensis: Speculum doctrinale [Strassburg: The R-Printer (Adolf Rusch), not after 1478]
- Herolt, Johannes: Sermones Discipuli de tempore et de sanctis cum promptuario exemplorum et miraculis Beatae Mariae Virginis Basel: Nicolaus Kesler, 2 Mar. 1486
- Higden, Ranulphus: Polycronicon. Edited, with a continuation 1358-1460, by William Caxton [Westminster]:William Caxton, [between 2 July and 8 Oct. 1482]
- Plinius Secundus, Gaius (Pliny, the Elder): Historia naturalis [Italian] Venice: Nicolaus Jenson, 1476 [two copies]
- Ovidius Naso, Publius: Opera Venice: Bernardinus Rizus Novariensis, 1486-87
Categories: Special Collections