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370
INCUNABULA


belong to the 16th century. On the other hand Dre Copinger's Supplement had hardly appeared before additional lists began to be issued registering books unknown both to him and to Hain, and the new Reperlorium, begun in 1905, il1I1d€1" the auspices of the German government, seemed likely to register, on its completion, not fewer than thirtyuthousand different incunabula as extant either in complete copies or fragments. . .

In any attempt to estimate the extent to which the incunabula still in existence represent the total output of the ISth'C€I'ltll1'y presses, a sharp distinction must be drawn between the weighticr and the more ephemeral literature. Owing to the great religious and intellectual upheaval in the 16th century—much of tthe literature previously current went out of date, while the cumbrous early editions of books still read were superseded by handier ones. Before this happened the heavier works had found their way into countless libraries and here they reposed peacefully, only sharing the fate of the libraries themselves when-these were pillaged, or by a happier fortune amalgamated with other, collections in a larger library. The considerable number of copies of many books for whose preservation no special reason can be found encourages a belief that the proportion of serious works now completely lost is not very high, except in the case of books of devotion whose honourable destiny was to bevworn to pieces by devout fingers. On the other hand, of the lighter literature in book-form, the cheap romances and catchpenny literature of all kinds, the destruction has been very great. Most of the broadsides and single *sheets general bf which. have escaped have done so only by virtue of the 16th-C€I1tI'y-Cl1Sl0I'I'l of using, waste of this kind as a substitute for wooden boards to stiffen bindings. Excluding these broadsides, &c., the, total output of the Isth-CGHIUIY presses in book form is not likely to have exceeded forty thousand editions. As to the size of the editions we know that the earliest printers at Rome favoured 22 5 copies, those at Venice 300. By the end of the century these numbers had increased, butthe soft metal in use then for types probably wore badly enough to keep down the size of editions, and an average of,500 copies, giving a. possible total, of twenty million books put on the European market during the 1.5th century is probably as near an estimate as can be made., Very many incunabula contain no information as to when, where or by whom they were printed, but the individuality of most of the early types as compared with modern ones has enabled typographical detectives (of whom Ro bert Proctor, who died in 1903, was by far the greatest) to track most of them down. To facilitate this work many volumes of facsimiles have been published, the most important being K. .Burger's Monuf menta Germaniae et Ilaliae Typographiea (1892, &c.), ]. W. Holtrop's Monuments lypographiques des Pays<Bqs (1868), O. Thierry-Poux's Premiers monuments de Vimprlmerie en France au X lf' siécle (1890), K. Haebler's T ypagraphie ibérique du quinziéme siécle (1901) and Gordon Duff's Early English Printing (1896), the publications of the Typerliacsirnile Society (1 700, &c.)and the Woolley Facsimiles, a collection of five hundred photographs, privately printed.

In his Index lo the Early Printed Books' al the Brilish Museum Proctor enumerated and described all the known types used by each printer, and his descriptions have been usefully extended and made more precise by Dr Haebler in his Typenreperlorium der Wiegendrucke (1905, &c.). With the aid of these descriptions and of the facsimiles already mentioned it is usually possible to assign a newly discovered book with some certainty to the press from which it was issued and often to specify within a feW weeks, or even days, the date at which it was finished. As a result of these researches, it is literally true that the output of the 1 5th-century presses (excluding the ephemeral publications which have very largely disappeared) is better known to students than that of any other period. Of original literature of any importance the halffcentury 14 59-r 500 was singularly barren, and the zeal with which 15th-century books have been collected and studied has been criticized as excessive and misplaced. No doubt thegminuteness with which it is possible to makean old book yield up its secrets has encouraged students to pursue the game for 'its ownsake without any great consideration of practical utility, but the materials which have thus been made available for the student of European culture are far from insignificant. The competition among the 15th-century printers was very great and they clearly sent to press every book for which they could "hope for a sale, uridauntedby its bulk. Thus the great medieval encyclopedia, the'Sj5ecula (Speculumnaturale, S peeulum hisloriale, Speeulum morale, Speeulum doelrinale) of Vincent de Beauvais went through two editions at Strassburg and found publishers and translators elsewhere, although it must have represented an outlay from'which many modern firms would shrink. It would almost seem, indeed, as if.some publishers specially affected very .bulky works which, while they remained famous, had grown scarce because thezscribes were afraid to attempt them. ', Hence, more especiallyhin- Germany, it was not nierely the output of a single generation which came to the press before 1500, but the whole of the medieval literature which remained alive, , i.e. retained a reputation- 'sufficient to attract buyers. A study of lists of incunabula enables 'a student to see just what-works this included, and the degree of their popularity. On the other hand in 'Italy the influence of the classical renaissance is reflected in the enormous output of Latin classics, and the progress of Greek studies can beftraced in the displacement of Latintranslations by editions of the originals, The part which each country and city played in the struggle between the old ideals and the new can be determined in extraordinary detail by a study of the output of its presses, although some allowance must be made for the extent to which books were transported along the great trade routes., Thus the fact that the Venetian output 'nearly equa, ] led.that of the whole of the rest of Italy was no doubt mainly due to its export trade. Venetian booksvpenetrtted everywhere, and the skill of Venetian printers in liturgical books procured them commissions to print whole editions for the English market. From the almost complete absence of scholarly books in the lists of English incunabula' it would be too much to concIti1ie'th'a't'th;§ ie was no demand for such books in England. de'mand}existed and was met by importation, which a stattie of Richard III.'s expressly facilitated. But that it was not commercially possible for a scholarly press to be worked in England, and that 2110 man of means was ready to finance one, tells its dwn tale. The total number of incunabula printed in England W&i, S~f)I'0l)3w§ ' upwards of four hundred, of which Caxton produced 'fully one-fourth. Of' the, tenlthousand different incunabula which the British Museum and Bodleian library possess between them, about 4roo are Italian, 3400 German, 1000 French, 700 from the N ether lands, 400.from Switzerland, 150 from Spain and Portugal, 5o from other parts of the continent of Europe and zoo English, the proportion of these last being about doubled by the special zeal with which they have been collected. The celebration in 1640 of the second centenary (as it was considered) of the invention of printing may be:taken as the date from which incunabula began to be collected for their own sake, apart from their literary interest, and the publication of Beughemfs I incunabula lypographiae in 1688 marks the increased attention paid to them. But up to the end of the 17th century Caxtons could still be bought for a few shillings. The third centenary of the invention of printing in 1740 again stimulated enthusiasm, and by the end of the Igtll century the really early books were eagerly competed for. Interest in books of the last ten or nfteen years of the century is a much more modern development; but with the considerable literature which has grown up round the subject is not likely to be easily checked. ' '; The chief collections of incunabula are those of the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris, Royal library, Munich, and British Museum, London, the number of separate editions in each library exceeding nine thousand, with numerous duplicates. The number of separate editions' at the Bodleian library is about live thousand; Other important collections are at the University library, Cambridge, and the John Rylands library, Manchester, the latter being based on the famous Althorp library formed by ' Earl Spencer- (see BDOK-COLLECTING).

(A.~W. Po.)