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T. H. Horne, in his “ Introduction to Bibliography,” Appendix XI. has given a fac simile of the first plate, traced from Mr. Willett's Copy.
Biblia Sacra, Latiné Vulgata.—2 vols. folio.-Moguntiæ.
This first edition of the Bible, and probably the first work printed with metal types, 'according to Heinekin, (“Idée," p. 260,) made its appearance between 1450 and 1452: that it was begun in 1450 by Gutenburg seems to be agreed on all sides :--1455 is the date usually assigned by bibliographers as the period of its publication.
“ It is only necessary to see this first Essay,” says Heinekin, “ to be convinced of the amazing pains and expence which must have attended so arduous an undertaking."
The entire work (according to Lichtenberger) consists of 641 leaves, divided into two very large volumes, folio, having neither title-page, signatures, nor catch-words: the initial letters of the different books and chapters, are not printed, but painted by the illuminators, in order, as is conjectured, (De Bure Bibliographie, No. 25, p. 38,) the more readily to vend them as manuscripts.
There are copies in the Bodleian Library, King's Library, and in those of Earl Spencer, Sir M. Sykes, Mr. G. Nicol, and the Royal Library at Paris. Those of Mr. G. Nicol, and one of the copies in the French Royal Library are on vellum, as also the Hon. T. Grenville's copy, purchased recently at the sale of the M-Carthy Library.
Pfalmorum Codex, Latine.-Folio. Moguntiæ. J. Fust et
P. Schoiffer, 1457.-Printed on vellum.
This is a book of excessive rarity--the first book, and supposed (until the discovery of Pope Nicholas's Litera Indulgentiarum) to have been the first article printed with a date affixed. BARON HEINEKIN, in his Idée Générale d'une Collection Complète d'Estampes, &c. 8vo. 1771, has most amply described it, and given specimens of its beautiful initial letters and typographical execution, the former of the size of the original, the latter in small. Of five different copies, known to and described by Heinekin, the one in the Imperial Library at Vienna he considered as matchless, and I believe, notwithstanding other copies have been since discovered and described, it still retains the same character.
There is a very superb copy, in the finest possible preservation, in the King's Library, procured for his Majesty George the Third, from the Library of the University of Gottingen. It is sumptuously bound in purple velvet, with embossed gold corners and clasps; the title, royal crown, and cypher, in solid gold, are impressed on the sides; and it has a blue morocco case, in which it is preserved. Four hundred pounds were given for this Book, and the binding cost about two hundred pounds more.*
In “Bibliotheca Spenceriana,” Vol. i. p. 107, a fac simile of the first letter of this noble Psalter is given, coloured exactly after the original, whereas, Heinekin's, p, 264, and Horne's, in the
Introduction to Bibliography,” Vol. i. p. 251, are in black only. Heinekin says, that in the first Bible, 1450 or 1452, no trace of engraving is to be found; but, in this Psalter is shown most completely, the skill attained by the artists on wood of that period, and the use made of them in printing.
Fournier, in his Dictionnaire de Bibliographie, says “ Nous ne serions point surpris qu'un exemplaire de ce livre s'il se presentait en vente publique, fût adjugé à 15 ou 20,000 livres.”
Psalmorum Codex, Latine, 1459.
The edition of 1459, although of the same size, and by the same printers, differs in some respects; and I must refer to Horne's “ Introduction to Bibliography,” for a list of the authorities where these variations have been quoted. It is nearly as great a rarity as the preceding edition, being printed with the same characters. According to Dibdin, in his “ Bibliotheca Spenceriana," Vol.i. p. 117, “What may give this second impression some additional value in the estimation of the curious is, that it contains the first printed text of the Athanasian Creed.”.
A copy of this second impression, at the sale of the Merly Library in 1813, sold for 631.
Meerman and his Translator, Jansen, appear to be greatly in error, when the latter says—" Ces deux Editions ont été faites avec des lettres gravées, et non avec des caractères de fonte, ainsi qu'il est mal dit dans le Dictionnaire de Moreri, article Imprimerie ; et même avec des Majuscules dans la manière des Missals Romains. Dans la première qui resemble à la seconde, il y a 288 Capitales, parfaitement sculptées et imprimées en differentes couleurs.”
De l'Invention de l'imprimerie, 8vo. 1809. p. 10.
Joannis de Janua, Summa, quæ vocatur Catholicon. Folio.
2 tom. Moguntiæ. (Fust et Schoyffer.) 1460.
This was one of the first productions of the press,
after the invention of printing; and, according to Mr. Dibdin, the fourth book printed with a date. John Balbus, or John of Genoa, a Dominican, was the author of this ancient Lexicon, and bestowed many years' labour in its compilation. Copies on vellum exist, but are extremely rare. copy of this kind is in the library of the Right Hon. T. Grenville, formerly belonging to the Duke de la Valliere, and purchased by its present possessor, at the sale of the M'Carthy Library.
At the sale of Dr. Mead's Collection, 1754 and 1755, a copy was sold for 45l. 18s. and purchased for the King of France, who sent over a commission of 1501.
R. Willett, Esq. bought West's copy in 1773 for 35l.3s.6d. and at the sale of the Merly Library in 1813, the same copy sold for 601. 18s.
Four or five other copies have been sold in different collections within the last six years, most of which have brought from fifty to sixty guineas each.
Appianus de Bellus Civilibus Latine Regii. Folio. 1468.
Said not to have been noticed by any bibliographer.-A copy was purchased by Mr. Heber, at the sale of the Rev. B. Heath, 1810, for 21. 9s.
Caxton (Wyllyam) Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, by
Raoul le Feure. Folio. Colen. 1471.
The first book printed in the English language.
The Duke of Devonshire possesses a copy, purchased from the Roxburghe Collection for 1060l. 18s. which originally belonged to Elizabeth Gray, Queen of Edward the Fourth.
A copy sold in West's Sale, 1773, for 321. 11s. an imperfect copy sold at Lloyd's Sale in 1816, for 1261.
Bartholomæus de Proprietatibus Rerum. Translated into
English and printed by Wynkin de Worde. Folio. 1482. The first book printed on paper made in England.
This is a General History of Nature, composed in Latin by Bartholomew Glanville, an English Minorite or Franciscan, of the family of the Earls of Suffolk. He flourished about the year 1360, and appears to have been the Pliny of his time. The English version was made by John Trevisa, a Cornish man, and Vicar of Barkley in Gloucestershire.*
At the Duke of Roxburgh's in 1812, a copy sold for 701. 7s. An imperfect copy at the Sale of Stanesby Alchorne, Esq. in 1813, sold to the Duke of Devonshire for 131. 13s.
* See Douce's “ Illustrations of Shakspeare,” Vol. ii. p. 278. and Clarke's “ Repertorium Bibliographicum,” pp. 195. and 533.