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Catalogue of the William Loring Andrews Collection of Early Books in the Library of Yale University   By:

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First Page:

CATALOGUE OF EARLY PRINTED BOOKS

CATALOGUE

OF THE

WILLIAM LORING ANDREWS

COLLECTION OF EARLY BOOKS

IN THE

LIBRARY OF YALE UNIVERSITY

[Printer's Seal]

NEW HAVEN: YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS LONDON: HUMPHREY MILFORD OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS MCMXIII

COPYRIGHT, 1913 BY YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS

Printed from type October, 1913. 300 copies

PREFACE

The collection of early printed books presented to the Library of Yale University in 1894 by Mr. William Loring Andrews, of New York, was formed to illustrate the first century of printing, which is a better boundary for the survey than the half century ending with the year 1500, more often chosen. The latter, the so styled cradle period of the art, is wanting in real definition, being at most a convenient halting place, not a completed stage, whereas at the middle of the sixteenth century the printed book of the better class had acquired most of its maturer features and no longer has for us an unfamiliar look. Designed to serve as a permanent exhibition, it is a selection rather than a collection, not large, but wisely chosen, and no less attractive than instructive, having been formed a quarter of a century ago, at a time when opportunities were unusually favorable.

The surviving books of the first presses, which are the chief sources of our knowledge of the early art, are at the same time, when obtainable, the most efficient teachers. For the illustration of the typography, the feature of first importance, there is nothing comparable to the open pages of a representative series of the original books, such as are here spread out before us. The best of the available substitutes, phototype reproductions of specimen pages, apart from other limitations, must always lack the authority and the impressiveness of the originals.

While it is the main office of the present collection to set before the students of the University as a whole the more general features of the art of the early printer, a further service which it is prepared to render must not be overlooked. To such as are prompted to go into the subject more deeply it offers an excellent body of the original material upon which any serious study must of necessity be based.

The two fine fifteenth century MSS. at the head of the collection, far from serving a merely ornamental purpose, like their own illuminated initials for example, are a needful introduction. It is obvious that from such sources the first printers got the models of their types, and the MSS. in which Jenson found the prototypes of his famous roman characters, which in the judgment of some are still unsurpassed, could not have been very remote from these. Some of the more striking features which distinguish the early printed books from the later were not original with them, but only survivals from the MSS. The abbreviations and contractions in which both abound were the labor saving devices of the copyists, adopted without hesitation by the printers who used the MSS. as copy and only slowly abandoned. The copyist left spaces in his MS. for initials to be supplied by the illuminator, without which his work was not considered complete, and for about a hundred years the printer continued to do the same. If the copyist saw fit to attach his name to his work, we look for it at the end of the volume and there also the printer placed his colophon. Signatures and catchwords, to guide the binder in the arrangement of the sheets, did not come in with the printed book, but had long been in use in the MSS.

Although out of the hundreds of presses active during the first century only a score are here represented, leaving wide gaps in the series, it is better, because more nearly in the natural line of development, that the books should be ranged under the country, the locality and the press to which they severally belong, than that they should be kept in strict chronological order... Continue reading book >>




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