[Reproduced from the copy housed in the Newman Library Special Collections Department, Virginia Tech: VTLS call number Z240 S7125 1858. Footnotes in the original are indicated by asterisks and daggers; here they are numbered consecutively and accessed by hypertext links. All notes are gathered at the end of the file. Representations of scribal abbreviations in the original are here expanded in square brackets.]Return to the Gravell Watermark Archive Home Page
BOOKS FROM THE PRESS OF WILLIAM CAXTON,
THE FIRST ENGLISH PRINTER
HAVING, on several occasions, in the preceding pages, noticed that paper-marks of a similar kind to those used in the Low Countries occur in the books printed by Caxton, we resolved, ere proceeding farther with the printing of this volume, to examine all the marks in the several copies of those works in the library at the British Museum; for, though possessing a large collection of tracings of marks, made many years since, by a skilful hand, from productions of the press of Caxton, we thought it better to satisfy ourselves of their accuracy by a personal examination of them at the present time. This has been greatly facilitated by the assistance of Mr. J. Winter Jones, the Keeper of the Printed Books in our National Library, in permitting us minutely to examine and compare the various volumes, so essential in undertaking a work of this nature.
Our giving the marks, however, may be considered as a work of supererogation, inasmuch as in the first volume of the last edition of Typographical Antiquities of Great Britain, by Ames, Herbert, and Dibdin two plates, v. and vi are devoted to tracings of water-marks: the one to a few of those on the paper used by Caxton, and the other to some of a similar character from books printed in the Low Countries.
On referring to those two plates we naturally expected to find some illustrative text from the pen of Dr. Dibdin, the last editor of the work. Such, however, is not the case, the only reference to them being in the following note, p. cxxv.: " On the plate facing the present page the reader is presented with fac-similes of the WATER-MARKS in the paper used by our own and other printers of the Low Countries, in the fifteenth century. A curious dissertation upon this subject, with plates, is in the Archæologia, vol. xii. p. 114."
It so happens that we have in our possession the collection of tracings1 of papermarks made by the distinguished antiquarian Joseph Ames, the author of the [p. 84] original work; in the first edition of which, 1749, the marks in plate v., previously mentioned, comprise pages 74 and 75; and in the edition of 1749, pp. 109-10. These plates only contained marks from the Caxton Books, so that the addition of those from the books printed in the Low Countries was made by Dr. Dibdin.
If Mr. Ames had had the same opportunity of examining so many books from the press of Caxton as Dr. Dibdin had, he would, no doubt, have given a greater variety of marks; consequently, we can only suppose that Dr. Dibdin did not think the subject worth troubling himself about; and furthermore, had he looked to the Archæologia he would have seen that the Dissertation, or rather "Observations on Paper-Marks by the Rev. Samuel Denne, F.A.S., in a letter to Mr Gough (read at the Society of Antiquaries, May 21, and June  4, 1795"), only noticed one mark, the Crown, as used in 1473, the other marks being on paper manufactured apparently in England from 1512 to 1712.
Hence the cause of our present digression ere we proceed to the consideration of the marks used in the paper of the Block-Books executed in Germany. It must not, however, be supposed that the marks we have given comprise all that are to be found in the paper used by Caxton. Independent of some copies examined by us many years since, we have only examined those works from his press which are in the British Museum; but as they amount to nearly sixty volumes, we think the marks are sufficient to shew that Caxton obtained his supply of paper from the Low Countries. Lettou and Machlinia obtained their paper from the same source, as did also Wynkyn de Worde, until about the year 1416, when paper was manufactured in England by John Tate the younger, as noticed in the subjoined lines from the prologue to the English edition of Bartholomæus de Proprietatibus Rerum printed by Wynkyn de Worde.
As John Tate the younger was Lord Mayor of London in 1496, we may conclude that the work was printed prior to that year, otherwise he would hardly have been styled in so off-hand and uncitizen-like a manner. The Worshipful the Ex-Lord Mayor would have been more respectfully commemorated.
We do not mean to assert that Caxton made use of no other paper than that from the Low Countries. We mention this because we have now and then found a sheet or two of paper evidently of Italian manufacture; for instance, in the Grenville copy of the First Edition of the Game of Chess occurs a single sheet with the Anchor within a circle, a mark decidedly not Flemish, but rather Italian. It occurs likewise in two other of the books examined by us. The same observation applies equally to German paper.
We now proceed to note the various works from the press of Caxton whence the [p. 85] marks in plates QA, QB, and QC, are taken, the numbers referring to the several marks in the order wherein they occurred in the copies, which, unless otherwise stated, are those in the British Museum. We may here observe, that the tracings we have given are not executed with that particular degree of accuracy with respect to their exact position between the wires, or as regards the dots or fastenings, as if with the new of identifying paper made from the same vat.
The result of our examination of the paper-marks found in the books printed by Caxton, has necessarily led us to make some inquiries respecting the earliest productions of his press; the more so as, on looking into several bibliographical works, we foundthat the not unusual plan had been adopted: viz., one author copying from another, taking all for granted, and never, we believe, except in a few instances, being at the trouble of examining the works described. pretend to much knowledge in bibliography, and readers will consider the ensuing remarks merely as hints and arguments may feel inclined hereafter to enter more fully into the subject, with deciding a question which at present must remain in some degree of uncertainty. Without perverting2 the language used by Wynkyn de Worde in the following extract from his prologue to his edition of Bartholomeeus,
we cannot do otherwise than believe that Caxton printed at Cologne an edition of that work in the Latin language. As no edition is at present known bearing the slightest indication of having been printed by Caxton, the question naturally arises, What has become of that book? a work consisting, not of a few leaves, but necessarily of between two and three hundred.
In the absence, therefore, of a distinguishable edition, we turn to those that exist, in order to discover whether one of those dateless editions printed before or about the year 1474, when we have reason to believe Caxton was still at Cologne, call be assumed to be that to which Wynkyn de Worde referred. It must be borne in mind that Wynkyn de Worde does not mention the fact with any reference to the typographical skill of Caxton, but that his object in printing the book was for the purpose of improving himself in the knowledge of the Latin language. Therefore he may have been engaged in the printing of that work before he finished at Cologne, in 1471, his English version of the Histories of Troy, or after, ere he returned to England. Owing to a mistake3 by Maittaire and Dr. Middleton, Lewis, in his Life of [p. 90] Caxton (pp. 17, 18), was led to believe that there was an edition of Bartholomæus from the press of Koelhoff as early as 1470. He therefore very naturally and shrewdly remarks, that, as it appeared "whilst Mr. Caxton was at Cologne learning and practising the art of printing, he might possibly be assisting Koelhoff in printing this book, or at the expense of it, and so be remembered by Wynkyn de Worde as the printer."
The earliest edition of Bartholomæus from the press of Koelhoff is dated 1481, and bears his name. Whether he printed one without date earlier, is not known; at least none exists that can be attributed to his press.
There are only two other editions at present known from which any inference can be drawn. Both are printed "sine ullâ notâ ," to use the phrase of the bibliographer, and are in types that cannot satisfactorily be fixed upon as those used by any known printer. Both are folio, printed in double columns, the one of very large size, with fifty-five lines, and the other smaller, with sixtyone lines in a column.
Of the first there are two copies in the British Museum, one in the library of Earl Spencer, and another in the Royal Library at Windsor, that having been retained, with a few other very rare volumes, by His Majesty George IV. when presenting to the nation the private library formed by George III.
In the copy in the British Museum (which was sold to the Trustees by the late Mr. Rodd, one of the most intelligent booksellers of this country,) occurs a note, in his autograph, stating his belief that the edition was that alluded to by Wynkyn de Worde, and that it was "decidedly printed at Cologne ." As Mr. Rodd was professedly more learned in English than in foreign bibliography, we feel no hesitation in stating that we believe he had formed a very erroneous opinion.
We remember, that, when a few years ago a copy of the same edition, belonging to Mr. Thorpe, was publicly sold in Wellington-street, we examined the book, making at the time a memorandum that the volume had the appearance of having been issued rather from a Strasbourg than a Cologne press, the water-marks being for the most part a Font and a Crown, similar to those of No. 65 in The Typography of the Fifteenth Century , the work whence they were taken being in the type of Eggesteyn, one of the early Strasbourg printers.
On the subject now coming more particularly before us, we find that the marks4 in the British Museum copies are of a similar kind, resembling those usually found in the books printed at Strasbourg.
Independent, however, of the paper-marks, there is another point, which we consider far more conclusive in chewing that the edition in question was not printed [p. 91] at Cologne. We allude to its size. It is printed on paper of precisely that peculiar make and large size used by Mentellin and other of the Strasbourg printers; printed by Ulric Zell, Veldener, Koelhof, and other of the Cologne printers, are nearly all of a small folio, that sized paper being generally manufactured in the Low Countries, whence those printers appear to have obtained their paper.
The other edition alluded to, is that which is mentioned by Laire, vol. i. p. 137, No. 95; and also among the many editions enumerated in the last edition of Ames, vol. ii. p. 319, where Dr. Dibdin, quoting Laire, erroneously refers to it as an edition in the German language, of the date 1479. It is also in large folio, of 212 leaves, printed in double columns, and has a table of three leaves. Laire places it among the books printed between the years 1470 and 1480, considering the type to resemble that in the books issued by the Basle printers.
Through the kindness of a friend we have a copy of it before us. We are not able to assign the type to any of the Basle printers. It is also very unlike any of the productions issued at Strasbourg or Cologne, independently of the paper being of a totally different quality from that generally used in those cities by the early printers, the marks5 also being for the most part of a different character.
Since writing the preceding, we have found that, in the British Museum (thanks to the aid and typographical memoranda of Mr. Cannon of that library), there is an edition of the Pantheologia of Rainer de Pisis (press mark , 3833e ), printed in the same type, double columns, of sixty lines, large folio. It is mentioned by Heyn in his Repertorium, No. 1314, who attributes it to the press of Berthold Rodt of Baste. The justification of the type in the Bartholomæus is very irregular, which is not the
case in the work of Rainer de Pisis; and the paper in the latter is of a far better quality. The mark, with the exception of the particular P or D (as noticed, note, p. 90), in two or three of the tables at the commencement, is the Bull's Head, as at the side, which runs through the volume, a circumstance not very usual in a work extending over several hundred folios. The mark is very like that found in Richel's Speculum , see plate U.
If any volume could be found in the same type, and bearing the name of Richel as the printer, then we might fairly consider the edition not to have been printed by Caxton. The type, however, is not that known as Richel's; and though the paper-mark in the copy of the Pantheologia is very similar to that in the paper of the Speculum printed by Richel, yet that alone would not be confirmatory of the work having been issued from his press. Our friend, to whom the copy of the edition of Bartholomæus belongs, a gentleman most learned in bibliographical minutiæ, is inclined to believe it to be the edition referred to by Wynkyn de Worde. He thinks the edition was printed about the year 1470. We candidly confess our inability togive a decided opinion in respect to it. There is, however, so great an unevenness in the lines, and it altogether presents so unusual a character, that we are a little inclined to lean to the opinion of our friend.
At the close of our fac-similes of the various types used by Caxton, we havegiven a few lines from the two editions of the Bartholomæus we have been describing, with the view of enabling others to judge how far we may be correct in not decidedly considering the latter of them to be the edition referred to by Wynkyn de Worde. We can hardly suppose, however, that he would have made a statement ofso positive a nature without good foundation for so doing; but, as even the statement made in the Cologne Chronicle of 1499, respecting the origin of printing, has caused so much controversy as to its literal meaning, a question naturally arises, whether the statement of Wynkyn de Worde was not founded upon some conversation with his old master, Caxton, who, when relating his early typographical labours, alluded to his having assisted, when learning the business of a printer, in the composition of an edition of Bartholomæus, with the view, at the same time, of improvinghis knowledge of the Latin language. Though the mechanical art of composing the type is not generally practised as a means of education, yet such a man as Caxton might have gathered knowledge from the book of which he was setting up the types. Had he printed on his own account an edition of so large a work, we cannot believe that he would have been silent upon the subject. If the edition, the one referred to as in the possession of our friend, could be proved to have been issued at Cologne, then would the meaning intended to be conveyed as to Caxton by Wynkyn de Worde, be fully borne out, that edition being the only one known to which stated by him will apply.
Some of the type used by Caxton was of the same manufacture as that claimed by John Brito, of Bruges, as having been invented and made by of imitating the precise character of the writing in a manuscript possessed by him.
Now we know that Caxton dwelt for many years at Bruges, where, in 1468, he commenced his, translation of the Histories of Troy. It is not, therefore, unreasonable to suppose that he must have been well acquainted with Brito.
John Brito did not put forth his labours with the same bombastic flourish as did Veldener, and, in some instances, other of the early Printers. He modestly stated in a colophon,
"Aspice presentis scripture gracia que
Confer opus opere, spectetur codice codex.
Respice q~ munde q~ terse qq3 decore
Imprimit hec civis bruge[n]sis brito Johan[n]es,
Invenie[n]s artem nullo monstra[n]te mira[n]dam,
Instrume[n]ta quoq. non minus laude stupe[n]da."
Behold what elegance is due to this writing
Compare work with work (letter with letter ), examine
Manuscript with manuscript (one copy with another ).
Consider how cleanly, how neatly, how handsomely,
John Brito, citizen of Bruges, prints these works,
Discovering a wonderful art, nobody having shewn him;
And also the astonishing instruments (the type ) no less praiseworthy.
There has only been one work discovered as having been printed by Brito, that to which the preceding colophon is appended. It occurred at the sale of the library of the learned Meerman, at the Hague, June 1824. It is now in the Imperial Library at Paris, whence the fac-simile6 we gave of the two varieties of type used by him were taken. It is a srnall quarto volume, of four gatherings of eight leaves each, the first and last leaf blank. It has twenty-five lines in a full page, the heads of the chapters being printed in red. It commences, "C'est cy la coppie des deux grans tableaus esquelx tout le contenu de ce livre est en exscript ," &c. The paper-marks are the Hand with fleur-de-lis above, as in the Delft Bible of 1477, and other books of that time.
The learned bibliographer, Santander, particularly mentions this work7, and in [p. 94] doing so endeavours to shew that Brito was not a printer, but merely a caligrapher; and further, that as the work is printed in a type similar to that used by Veldener at Utrecht, he thinks that it was issued from his press, viewing the Latin lines at the close of the work as merely relating to a manuscript production of John Brito. In order to support such an opinion, Santander repudiates the universally acknowledged typographical meaning of the word "imprimit ," adopted by Brito, considering that the word was not used in its usual sense, but merely as scripsit might equally have been. But Brito would not have made use of the word "instrumenta ," or "artem mirandam ," if he had intended to refer to mere writing , an art, as applied . to the copying of MSS., which gradually ceased to be practiced after the invention of printing. Santander appears to have been led into the discussion about Brito in consequence of a brochure from the pen of M. Ghesquiere, who desired to place Brito among the claimants to the invention of the Art of Printing.
Now Veldener used two, and perhaps more, sorts of type before the year 1480, the date of his Fasciculus Temporum , which is in a similar character to that of the production by Brito. Therefore, if Veldener had printed this work, it is not likely he would have allowed any colophon to be appended to it bearing a double meaning, one interpretation of which would take from him the merit of having been the inventor of a new and peculiarly characteristic type; one which served as a pattern for that used by Caxton and Machlinia, as also for that of the books printed at St. Albans. No type, however, similar to the larger sort used by Brito, has been found in any production from the press of Veldener or elsewhere.
In no prologue or colophon to any of the.books printed by Caxton does he lay claim to the title of type-founder. His whole time must have been occupied in [p. 95] translating and in superintending, and possibly, to some extent, participating in the labours of his workmen, and correcting the press. Though he pathetically tells us, at the close of his English Recueil , most probably his own acknowledged first typographical production, that his hand had become unsteady, his eyes dimmed, age creeping uppon him, and his body enfeebled; yet he lived not only to print, but to translate and edit more works than almost any man who had preceded him. He must have been a marvellously industrious man, as at the close of the edition of the "Vitas Patrum ," in 1495, Wynkyn de Worde states that the translation by Caxton was "fynysshed at the last daye of his lyf."
The type used in the two editions of the Histories of Troy, the Seven Penitential Psalms in French, the Game of Chess, 1474, and the History of Jason in French8, is the same. It may be styled demi-secretary gothic. The letters bear evidence of having been cast from a matrix, whereas the type used by Brito was probably, in the first instance, cut by hand, though Veldener may afterwards have had it cast.
If Caxton had had anything to do with the manufacturing of the type used in his English edition of the Histories of Troy, it is not likely that he would have omitted all mention of the matters connected with his labours in learning the art of casting type; but would most probably, in the same peculiarly characteristic manner in which he informed his readers of the arduousness of the task of not only making the translation but of the labour of writing it, have detailed all the difficulties he had to surmount in the art of type-founding.
Inasmuch as the type used by Caxton, in some of the books from his press, is of precisely the same character as that used by Brito, it is not unreasonable to presume that he obtained his type from Bruges, or from the same parties who supplied or manufactured it for John Veldener of Utrecht. Machlinia9, of London, made use of a somewhat similar type, obtained, no doubt, from the same source. Neither Veldener nor Machlinia lay claim to be the makers of that type; nor are we aware that there is any passage in the numerous books printed by Caxton from which we might draw the conclusion that he made his own types. Caxton was a learned man, devoting himself to the translating of works from the Latin and French languages, of which his press affords numerous examples. It is not likely, therefore, that he executed any portion of the mechanical labour beyond that of instructing his workmen in the art of composing the type, and superintending the management of his printing establishment.
Much uncertainty exists as to the precise date when Caxton returned to England, after residing, as he states in his preface to his English edition of the Histories of Troye, "xxx yere, for the most parte, in the contres of Brabant, flandres, holand , [p. 96] and zeland ." That he was at Cologne in 1471 is certain, as he states that he there finished his translation of the "Recueil " in September of that year.
Stowe, in mentioning the origin of printing, states (Chronicle , ed. 1560), "William Caxton, of London, mercer, brought it into London about the year 1471, and first produced the same in the Abbie of St. Peter, at Westminster; after which it was likewise practised in the Abbies of St. Augustine, at Canterburie, Saint Albans, and other monasteries in England."
Dr. Dibdin states: "There is no account whatever of the typographical labours of Caxton from the year 1471 to the year 1474, although it is extremely probable that a curious and active mind like his, just engaged in the exercise of a newly discovered and important art, would have turned his attention to a variety of objects for publication. Of the exact period of his return to his native country, no information has yet been obtained. Oldys imagines, that, in the time required to provide himself with presses, types, and all other printing materials, in order to establish and practise the art in his own country,--being now arrived in the evening of life, and naturally inclining homeward,--he might pass three years, till he appears, by the edition of the Book of Chess, dated 1474, to be settled in England; which book is reputed to be the first that was ever printed in this kingdom. The first edition of 'The Game of Chess ' does certainly bear the date of 1474; but that it was executed in this country there is no kind of evidence upon the face of the book itself."10
Dr. Dibdin is in error when he states that the edition of "The Game of Chess ," dated 1474, shews that Caxton was at that time in England. We have no proof whatever, that, at that time, he was in England; the chronicler Stowe merely records, that about the year 1471 he was in this country.
There is no proof whatever that the French edition of the Histories of Troy preceded the translation by Caxton. Had it been the case, he would most probably have mentioned such to have been the fact.
The circumstance of the author, Le Fevre, being styled, in the French edition, "Chappellain de mon tres redoubte seigneur Monseigneur le Due de bourgoigne, en lan de grace mil cccclxiiii;" and in the English version, "preest and chapelayn vnto the ryght noble gloryous and mighty prince, in his tyme , Phelip duc of Bourgoyne, Braband,"&c., merely proves that when Le Fevre composed the work the Duke of Burgundy was alive , and that when Caxton translated it the Duke was dead .
It is necessary to bear in mind that the two editions are printed in the same type, and that, as we find the paper used for the printing of both to be of a very similar quality, we may fairly presume that the two editions had some connexion with each other. A careful examination of the impressions shews that the type in the English edition presents a sharper appearance than in the French, which affords a mechanical argument in favor of the priority of the English one.[p. 97]
At the close of the English edition, Caxton minutely enters, first, into the difficulty of his labours in the translation, and then into the cause of his exercising the duties of a printer. We must bear in mind, that, at that period, Caxton was, as it were, in the household, or employ, of the Duchess of Burgundy, the Duchess being his great patroness; consequently, as the work of Le Fevre (to whom Caxton was, no doubt, well known) was dedicated to the Duke, Caxton had, no doubt, numerous courtly applicants for his translation. He states:
"Thus ende I this booke whyche I have translated after myn auctor as nyghe as god hath gyuen me connyng to whom be gyuen the laude and preysing. And for as moche as in the wrytyng of the same my penne is worn, myn hande wery ¬ stedfast myn eyen dimed with ouermoche lokyng on the whit paper, and my corage not so prone and redy to laboure as hit hath been, and that age crepeth on me dayly, and feebleth all the bodye, and also be cause I have promysid to dyuerce gentilmen, and to my frendes to addresse to hem as hastily as I myght this sayd book, Therfor I have practysed & lerned, at my grete charge and dispense to ordeyne this said book in prynte after the manor & forme as ye may here see, and is not wreton with penne and ynke as other bokes ben , to thende that euery man may haue them attones, ffor all the books of this story, named the Recule of the historyes of Troyes thus emprynted as ye here see were begonne in oon daye, and also fynyshid in oon day, whiche booke I presented to my said redoubtid lady as a fore is sayd. And she hath well acceptid hit and largely rewarded me wherefore I beseche almighty god to rewarde her everlasting blisse after this lyf."
Caxton here distinctly relates, that, in consequence of his having promised to supply his friends with copies of his translation, he practiced and learned the Art of Printing; that passage giving full scope to the idea of his having, while so learning the art, assisted a printer at Cologne; and at the same time tending to confirm the statement made by Wynkyn de Worde, that he printed the first edition of Bartholomæus.
Though Caxton commenced his translation in 1468, he affirms, in his prologueto the first book, "aftyr that y had made and wretyn a fyve or six quayers. y fyll indispayr of thys werke, and purpoised no more to have contynuyd therein and the quayers leyd a part and in two yere after laboured no more in thys werke and was fully in wyll to have lefte hyt."
Caxton then goes on to state, that, in consequence of his patroness, Margaret Duchess of Burgundy, having heard of the translation, she commanded him "to shewe the sayd v. or vi. quayers;" and moreover commanded him "straytly to contynue and make an ende of the resydue than not translated."
We have therefore, in these facts, a clear proof that the printing of his translation could not have been commenced before 1470. There is nothing to warrant our believing that he had at that time printed off "v. or vi. quayers" of his translation, [p. 98] the work of translating and printing then going on at the same time, as may have been the case, when he resolved on printing the work in order to supply his friends with the copies promised to them.
As the French edition bears no prefatory or closing matter conveying any idea at whose charge the book was carried through the press, or by whom it was printed, we may fairly presume that it was intended to be an accurate copy of the original MS., and therefore it became necessary to follow the title-page as originally written, although the circumstance of its implying that the Duke of Burgundy was then living was not correct. It was, in point of fact, an exact reprint of the original manuscript, issued, like hundreds of works printed during the fifteenth century, without any prefatory matter indicative of the printer, or of the place where issued.
In the prefatory title to the English Recueil , Caxton informs his readers that he commenced the translation in 1468, and finished it on September 19, 1471, and states at the close of the work, that, after he had printed the book, he presented a copy of it to his Patroness, Margaret Duchess of Burgundy.
We cannot suppose, that, from September 19 to the period when he wrote the note of his visit to his Patroness, Caxton had printed the whole work, though he informed his readers that "all the books of this story, named the Recule of the historyes of Troyes thus emprynted as ye here see were beyonne in oon daye and also fynyshid in oon day ."
In our first volume (p. 190), we have had occasion to notice the bombast of Veldener in the publication of the productions of his migratory press. Following the fashion of the day, Caxton has not only, in the prologue to his translation, favoured his readers with some particulars of his life, and of the difficulties he met with in his task, but also in many other of his works has he done the same; his epilogues and colophons being all alike amusingly characteristic.
Dr. Dibdin11 gives several illustrations of the early printers making use of marvellous and hyperbolical language in their colophons, evidently with the view of enhancing the importance of the newly discovered art of printing.
Caxton may have intended the passage to convey, that, by means of the art he had then learned and practiced, instead of having to wait months for a transcript of the work, a perfect copy of the whole could be obtained in "oon day ."
It may have been, as suggested to us by our friend, Mr. J. Winter Jones, of the British Museum, that Caxton meant it to be understood that the first sheet in all the copies was commenced and worked off in one day, and that all the copies of the last sheet were also worked off in one day; but not that the whole volume was begun and finished in one day.
Had Caxton, in his title to the English Recueil , only stated that his translation [p. 99] was commenced in 1468, and finished in 147l, we should not be justified in supposing [ that he did not commence the printing of it until after the latter date. He, however, distinctly mentions his labours as of two kinds: his "translation " as the one , and his "werke " as the other . We may therefore presume that in the use of the word "werke " he referred to the printing of the volume; and that, as at the close of the work he informs his readers of his having printed it, he did not consider it necessary to say more on that subject.
We may consequently, with much fairness, consider that, in 1470, the translation and the printing proceeded simultaneously; and that, instead of the work being printed in "oon day ," it was produced or seen in one day complete, soon after September 1471.
In the early stage of typography hundreds of volumes were issued by various printers without the slightest indication of the printer's name, the period when, or the place at which they were printed or published; the only clue to the discovery of the printer being by the comparison of the character of the type, as we have before stated. Such is the case with a great many of the productions of the press of Caxton, several merely ending "Explicit per Caxton ."
"The Dictes and Sayinges of Philosophers " is the earliest book yet discovered from the press of Caxton which gives the satisfactory information as to the place and date of its execution. The Epilogue to that work opens, "Here endeth the book named the Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers, emprinted by me William Caxton at Westminster, the year of over lord, M.CCCC.LXXVII." It closes very much in the same style as the title of the "Recueil:" "Thus endeth this book of the Dictes and notable wise Sayings of the philosophers late translated and drawn out of the French into our English tongue by my aforresaid Lord the Earl Rivers and Lord Scales, and by his commaundment set in form and imprinted in this manner as ye may here in this book see; which was finished the xviii day of the month of November, and the seventh year of the reign of King Edward the Fourth ."
If it be true, as stated in the Life of Caxton in the last edition of Ames' Typographical Antiquities , p. xcv. that the French and English editions of the Histories of Troy are justly "admitted to have been printed abroad ," we cannot do otherwise than believe that the Game of Chess, the French edition of Jason, and Les Sept Pseaulmes Penitenciales, were also executed abroad; but whether the French versions were printed by Caxton, is a point that cannot be incontrovertibly settled. Certain, however, it is, that no other printer is known to have used the same type as that in which they are printed; and, like the Game of Chess dated 1474, they all have thirty-one lines in a full page.
The paper used for the English Histories of Troy and for the Game of Chess, 147412, was of the same peculiar texture. Not so, however, in the same degree, [p. 100] though the paper-marks are of the same character, does the paper of the French editions bear evidence of their having been issued precisely at the same time.
That the French editions were all issued by one person, is pretty evident from their internal appearance. None of them have the smallest prefatory matter, or typographical indication of date, &c. They simply end with the word "explicit ," as is the case with many of the books printed by Caxton in this country.
As in the title to the English Recueil (begun to be translated at Bruges in 1468) Caxton stated the work to have been "ended and fynisshed in the holy cyte of Colen ," 1471, it is generally believed that the book was printed by him at Cologne. Consequently, as in the prologue to the second edition of the Garne of Chess (printed in this country), Caxton relates, that, while residing at Bruges, he translated and printed an edition of that work, it is natural to believe that the edition bearing the date 1474 was printed in that city, clearly proving that in 1474 Caxton had returned from Cologne to Bruges; but whether earlier, we have no record. Now the English Recueil and the Game of Chess of 1474 are printed with the same type as the French versions of the Recueil, the Jason, and the Penitential Psalms, all of which may have been printed at Cologne before 1474; but whether by Caxton, or under his direction, there is no proof, though from the several volumes corresponding in all their typographical minutiæ, there is every reason to believe they were issued under his supervision.
They may, however, after all, have been printed at Bruges13, as we have no evidence of the residence of Caxton at Cologne after 1471. He may have merely gone to that city for the purpose of learning the art of printing, in consequence of his having again taken up his translation of the Recueil at the request of his patroness the Duchess of Burgundy, his labour having been, as he states, put aside for two years.
There is one remarkable circumstance connected with his typographical labours , that we must not lose sight of. It is, that in the British Museum copy of the Game of Chess, of 1474, the paper with the mark of the Head of the Bull , pl. QA, n. 9 (as stated p. 87), is of the same peculiarly brown and coarse texture as was used for the [p. 101] copy of the English Recueil in the same library. From this fact we are led to conjecture, that, when Caxton left Cologne he took with him the remaining stock of the paper unemployed in the printing of his English Recueil (if there printed), using it, as also the same type, in 1474, at Bruges, for the Game of Chess.
If the small quarto tract14 intitled "Propositio, &c.--Johannis Russell--ad Karolum ducem Burgundiæ super susceptionis ordinis gasterii ," was printed immediately after the ceremony, which took place in 1469, it would prove the existence of a very similar type to that (invented, as we believe, by John Brito of Bruges, and afterwards used by Veldener at Cologne, and by Caxton in this country) several years earlier than hitherto supposed, and five years before the issue of the Game of Chess in the same type as the two editions of the Recueil and other French works mentioned!
These observations are merely made for the consideration of those who may at any future time consider the matter worth inquiring into. The subject appears to us to be fraught with so much obscurity that we may justly apply to it the well known quotation, "Stat nominis umbra ," and leave it to the investigation of those more learned than ourselves in typographical minutiae.
It is generally believed, that the Jason was the third book printed by Caxton. This appears to us to be erroneous. It is founded merely upon the authority of a passage15 in the prologue to the Golden Leygende of 1483, wherein Caxton, noticing the several works he had translated , but not printed, places the History of Jason the third in the list of his translations.
It is believed that the edition of the Golden, Legende , dated May 1493, was the first work issued by Wynkyn de Worde after Casxton's death, though the Liber Festivalis also bears the same date.
That, soon after his death, Wynkyn de Worde, who was one of Caxton's assistants, was in possession of the house in which Caxton carried on his business, is well known. It is conjectured that he was in the service of Caxton when resident at Bruges16.
Inasmuch as no work in the peculiar type of Caxton was issued with the name of Wynkyn de Worde, we may fairly presume, that, shortly after his death the types used by him were "depeshed." "The space of tiine," writes17 the editor of the last edition of Ames, "between the death of Caxton and the publi- [p. 102] cation of this latter work" (the Liber Festivalis , 1493) "was probably devoted by him to the acquisition of new types and materials, and to making arrangements for resuming the business which had been carried on by his master. It is certain that neither his types nor his name have hitherto appeared in any book with a date anterior to 1493; and it is equally certain that his name is not introduced into any colophon printed with his master's types."
We have not thought it necessary to notice the marks upon the paper used by Wynkyn de Worde; but we cannot omit observing, that, in a copy of the "Vitas Patrum ," printed by him in 1495, are found nearly fifty marks from different moulds, the Unicorns being of the most grotesque forms, presenting sixteen varieties. Many of the marks were of a similar character to those in the works printed by Caxton.
Having been irresistibly led into a discussion respecting the types of the publications issued by Caxton, and finding that no work contains a synoptical or comprehensive view of the different types used by him, we think we cannot more appropriately close our inquiries upon the subject than by giving a few lines from some of the productions of his press, wherein he has used different sorts of types.
As it is not our intention to enter into a bibliographical detail of the various editions of the works printed by Caxton, we content ourselves with simply directing attention to the fac-similes in the ensuing plates, Plate QD, Plate QE, and Plate QF, of the various types used by him. No pains having been spared to render them as correct as possible, we hope they will prove useful for future reference.
Not feeling satisfied with the conclusions we had come to, in the preceding sheet, respecting the two18 editions of the Bartholomæus , we proceeded with the printing of our labours, leaving this sheet (O) unfinished, with the view of afterwards more carefully examining the types in the books printed, about 1470, at Cologne.
Now, therefore, on referring to p. 91, it is seen, that, when alluding to the early Cologne Printers, we omitted mentioning Gotz de Sletzstat, though, in our collections of fac-similes of the types used by the early printers, we have not only specimens of the types employed by him, but of the various letters, large and small, separately, [p. 103] taken many years ago for the purpose of identifying the type. We plead guilty therefore, of great negligence in not having given more time to the consideration, of the fifty-five line edition of the Bartholomæus , ere we ventured (p. 90) so strongly to discredit the opinion of the late Mr. Rodd, of its being "decidedly printed at Cologne; " for, had we compared the type of that volume with our fac-similes from the two editions of the Fasciculus Temporum , printed at Cologne in 1474 and 1478, each edition bearing the name of Gotz de Sletzstat, we should have at once seen that the fifty-five line edition of Bartholomæus was in the same type, without the necessity of having given Mr. Cannon, an assistant in the Library of the British Museum, the trouble of looking over all the various books issued at Cologne bearingthe names of the printers. We have much pleasure, however, in recording our thanks to that gentleman for having drawn our attention to the type used by Gotz de Sletzstat.
As all arguments respecting the identification of type are very unsatisfactory without fac-similes, we have, at the close of the fac-similes of the types used by Caxton, Lettou, and Machlinia, given a few lines from the copy of the fifty-five line edition of the Bartholomæus , side by side with the same number of lines from the Fasciculus Temporum printed at Cologne, in 1474, by Gotz de Sletzstat,together with the concluding paragraph from the edition of 1478.
When we find that the edition of the Bartholomæus referred to was considered a book of such especial interest as to have been reserved at Windsor, with a very few others, from the library collected by His Majesty George III., it does appear to us extraordinary that no English bibliographer, as the book has generally been considered to be connected with the early labours of Caxton, should have satisfied himself as to the fact of its having been printed at Cologne. It is very true that Mr. Rodd wrote in the copy he sold to the Trustees of the British Museum, such to have been his opinion; but in doing so, he gave no reference to any book printed at Cologne in a similar type. Laire considered it to have been printed at Basle. Dr. Dibdin, in describing the copy in the library of Earl Spencer, states, "that the manuscript note to this copy, which assigns the work to the press of Caxton, is erroneous , and the suggestion of its having been printed by Koelhof seems equally without foundation. We may therefore be brief in the present place; observing that this edition is executed, apparently, by Ulric Zell, or by some other early Cologne printer, and that it seems to have escaped Panzer." Though the learned bibliographer adds, "it may be called a magnificent volume," he appears to have had no belief in Caxton having had anything to do with the printing of it.
That we came19 to too hasty a conclusion that the book in question was not [p. 104] printed at Cologne, is certain. We thought so, first because the edition is printed in a very large folio20, the Cologne books being usually of a small folio or quarto size; and secondly, because the paper was of the same kind as was used by the printers at Strasbourg.
Having now shewn that the fifty-five line edition of the Bartholomæus is printed with type of the same character as that used at Cologne by Gotz de Sletzstat in 1474, we may fairly come to the conclusion that the book was printed in that city, thus clearly, we think, identifying the edition referred to in the oft-quoted lines of Wynkyn de Worde, the successor to our first English printer:
We have also given a fac-simile of the type of the sixty-one line edition of the Bartholomæus . It is, as stated, in the same character as the Pantheologia of Rainer of Pisa, ascribed by Hain21 to Berthold Rodt of Basle. There is, in the British Museum, an edition of the Quadragesimale of Robertus Caracciolus de Licio, in the same type, described also by Hain, No. 4419, but not assigned to any printer.
We have preferred thus ingenuously stating the circumstances the reconsideration of the subject at issue, rather than adopting perhaps the more usual course, of canceling the preceding sheet. We are not formed an erroneous judgment; and our acknowledging it tends to shew our earnest desire to endeavour to be correct in so interesting a point of typographical inquiry.
1Lent to me by Mr. Lilly the bookseller. (return)
2"An ingenious sophist, however, of the school of Duns Scotus may interpret W. de Worde's second and third verses thus, 'William Caxton printed this, at Cologne, in order to advance himself in the Latin tongue,' or he ' printed this book in order to advance himself in the Latin tongue, at Cologne.' From both interpretations it would also follow that he printed the book; but from the former, at Cologne. From both interpretations it would also follow that he might have printed his own translation of it, as that would have still more effectually contributed to his improvement in the original. The mere reimpression of a Latin book would not have caused our typographer to 'advance himself' one iota in the 'Latin tongue."' (Dibdin's Ames , vol. i. xcii. note. (return)
3Dibdin's Ames , vol. i. xcii. note. (return)
4The paper-marks in the copies in the British Museum consist of, in the one, a Half Moon or Crescent, Scales, P or D with Cross above and below, Font, Crown; the Y and the Arms of France occurring in two of the four leaves of the table at end. In the other copy, the Scales, Half Moon, Crown, Font; the Y and the Arms in the table as before. (return).
5They Consist of a small Circle; a Man's Head, as below; Bull's Head, as below; Hand with Cross above; a Double Cross, as below; St. Katherine's Wheel, placed quite at the outside part of the sheet, a singular circumstance, sufficient to induce us to suppose that the sheet of paper was made of double size, some of that paper being thick, some thin, and all of a coarse texture, of a brown colour. The other marks are, Arms of France, with small B below; Small Mark, as below, on the right lower corner of pp. cxx. and on some other leaves following; Small Crescent; Moor's Head, as below; and another indistinct mark, as below. (return)
6Typography of the Fifteenth Century, plate XXXVII. No. 77. (return).
7"JEAN BRITON, de Bruges. Cet
artiste ne peut être regardé que comme un habile
calligraphe; les registres dont nous avons parlé dans
l'article précédent, en font deux fois mention; la
première, en l'an 1454, et la seconde, en 1492,
année de sa mort, dont les frais funéraires
coûtèrent la somme de 15 gros, mais un livre de la
bibliothèque de M. Meerman, à La Hayé,
imprimé dans le xv
"Cette assertion de M. Ghesquière n'est fondée que sur une souscription, qu'on lit à la fin du susdit livre.
"Mais indépendamment de ce qu'on n'y trouve pas de date, et que les caractères employés dans cette [p. 93] impression sont absolument conformes à ceux des Epistelen en Evangelien , et du Fasciculus temporum , imprim&ecute;s par J. Veldener, à Utrecht, en 1478 et 1480, it est évident que ces vers Satins, faits par he calligraphe lui-même (Jean de Brit), pour relever la beauté et la netteté de sa copie, n'ont aucun rapport à l'impression faite dans la suite, sur cette copie, par J. Veldener, qui y laissa subsister les dits vers. Ces mots: Aspice presentis scripture gracia , démontrent cette vérité car, de quel front pourrait-il se vanter, ce Jean Briton ou de Brit, de la netteté et de la beauté de cette impression, qui n'est rien moins que belle, et qui est exécutée en mauvais caractères gothiques? Les instrumens merveilleux dont le dit Briton s'attribue l'invention, dans les deux derniers vers, sont certainement ceux de l'art calligraphique, car cet art avait aussi ses instrumens, dont les calligraphes se servaient pour faire de belles copies: témoins les petites feuilles de cuivre, très-minces, percées, dont le vuide représente les lettres de l'alphabet. J'ai vu un religieux minime se servir de ces feuilles de cuivre, pour écrire des livres de choeur. Quant au mot Imprimit , dont Jean Briton fait ici usage, on sait qu'il se trouve fréquemment employé dans les XVe et XVIe siècles, pour signifier écrire . Au reste, si ce Jean Briton, mort en 1492, a été un si habile artiste, qui, selon M. Ghesquière, avait déjà trouvé Part de l'imprimerie vers le milieu du XVe siècle, d'où vient que, dans l'espace de quarante ans qu'il a survécu à sa prétendue découverte, il ne nous a pas donné une seule impression brillamment exécutée a sa manière? a-t-il pa abandonner tout de suite un art qui faisait l'étonnement de ses concitoyens? Je sais que le susmentionné M. Ghesquière dit, que l'imprimeur Veldener, peut avoir fait acheter à Bruges l'es caractères de Jean de Brit , mais cela me ferait croire qu'il avait appris de M. Meerman, dans son voyage à La Haye, la manière aisée de résoudre lestement les difficultés. Voyez à ce sujet et ce que nous en avons dit, chap. I, no . XLVIII, et note 37." Santander, Dictionnaire Bibliographique , vol. i. pp. 353-6. (return)
8The only known copy of that book is in the Imperial Library at Paris. (return)
9The type used by Machlinia is of the same face, but different in body, the letters being wider apart. (return)
10Typographical Antiquities of Great Britain, vol. i. xcv. (return)
11Ames's Typographical Antiquities of Great Britain, by Dibdin, vol. i. p. 21, note. (return)
12Caxton opens his preface to the second edition of "The Game of the Chesse " by stating, that, among [p. 100] "many noble clerkes" (who) "haue endeuoyred them to write and compyle many notable werkes and historyes"--"there was an excellent doctour of dyuyyte in the royaume of fraunce of the order of thospytal of Saynt Johns of Jherusalem whiche entended the same and hath made a book of the chesse moralysed. Which at such tyme as I was resident in brudgys in the counte of Flaundres cam in to my handes, which whan I had redde and overseen, me semed ful necessarye for to be had in englishe, and in eschewyng of ydleness and to thende that so[m]me which haue not seen it, ne vnderstonde frenssh ne latyn, I delybered in myself to translate it in to our maternal tongue, and whan I had so achyeued the sayd translation, I dyde doo sette in enprynte a certeyn nombre of them, whiche anone were depesshed and solde. wherefore by cause thys sayd book is ful of holsom wysedom and requysyte vnto euery estate and degree, I haue purposed to emprynte it, shewyng therein the figures of suche persons as longen to the playe." (return)
13M. Bernard, as we have noticed, p. 44, note, considers the French Recueil to have been printed by Ulric Zell, and that the types were the production of a Frenchman. (return)
14Ames's Typographical Antiquities of Great Britain, by Dibdin, vol. i. pp. 11-15, where the tract is fully described, and a fac-simile, pl. VIII. given of the first page from the only known copy in the library of the Marquis of Blandford. (return)
15"When I had performed and accomplished divers works and histories, translated out of French and English at the request of certain lords, ladies, and gentlemen, as the history of the Recueil of Troy, the Book of the Chess, the History of Jason, the History of the Mirror of the World," etc. (return)
16Ames's Typographical Antiquities of Great Britain, by Dibdin, vol. ii. p. 11. (return)
17Ames's Typographical Antiquities of Great Britain, by Dibdin, vol. ii. pp. 11 and 12. (return)
18At p. 90 it is stated that the edition of fifty-five lines is of a larger size. We find, however, on comparing them, that the difference arises from the copy of the edition with sixty-one lines having been more cut when bound. (return)
19I do not profess to be acquainted with the various types used by the early printers. Whatever little knowledge I may possess is consequent on my having had occasion more particularly to direct my attention to the subject during the last few years, while engaged on the present work. (return)
20The Spencer copy (Bibliotheca Spenceriana, vol. iii. p. 71) is bound up with the Etymologies of St. Isidore, executed in the same type. (return)
21Not Heyn , as stated p. 91. Note also, that the number there quoted should be 13014 in lieu of 1314. (return)