Treasures exhibition: 15th and 16th centuries

1. The fifteenth century

Crescentius_for_webA selection from the University Library's small collection of incunables, which are regularly used for teaching by the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication; from the Printing Collection and the Cole Library.

The oldest printed book in the University Library

Pietro de Crescenzi. Ruralia commoda. Augsburg : Johann Schüssler, 1471. A collection of agricultural information. Without foliation or pagination; decorative initials (see example shown above), smaller capitals, paragraph marks and underlines added in pen. PRINTING COLLECTION FOLIO--630.2-CRE (GRILLE)

(Crescenzi's Ruralia commoda was our featured item in April 2005).

Illuminated in the manner of the manuscript book

Pliny the Elder. Historia naturalis. Caii Plynii Secundi Naturalis historia tricesimiseptimi et ultimi finis impressi. Venice: Nicolas Jenson, 1472. Roman type; printed foliation; one illuminated page and thirty-seven illuminated initials throughout (see image on index page); rubricated in red and blue around text, apparently with editorial intent (triple rules signal each new section). COLE--X247F (GRILLE)

Bearer impressions

Antonio Rampegolo. Aurea Biblia, sive, Repertorium aureum Bibliorum. Ulm : Johann Zainer, 1476. Not foliated or paginated; the initials and paragraph marks are printed. The impression of bearers (uninked type - in this case a line of paragraph marks - which print in blind, set to support the paper in the press) are clearly visible at the foot of the right-hand page, and elsewhere throughout. PRINTING COLLECTION--240-RAM (GRILLE)

2. The sixteenth century (i)

In this display case handy, small format editions for readers in evolving form contrasted with Vesalius's monumental academic treatise consumately combining text, commentary, notes, and illustration. A further selection from the Printing Collection and the Cole Library.

An Aldine classical text printed in Venice by Aldus Manutius

Martial. Epigrammata. Martialis. Venice : Aldus, 1501. Italic type; unpaginated; lacunae, with printed guide letters, left for initials to be inserted by hand. PRINTING COLLECTION--877.6 Image of illuminated initial from 'Pontani Opera'.

Illuminated initial in the manuscript tradition

Giovanni Pontano. Pontani Opera. ... Venice : Aldus, 1505. Italic type; lacunae with printed guide letters for initials in the main, though a few are printed. This copy has one illuminated initial (see image shown right), and other initials and paragraph marks added in red and blue by hand throughout. PRINTING COLLECTION--879.1-PON skelet1

Life of Muzio Attendolo Sforza with woodcut portrait

Paolo Giovio. Vita Sfortiae clariss. ducis ... Rome : Antonio Baldo, 1539. Italic type; foliated in roman numerals (XLVIII); lacunae for initials with printed guide letter. PRINTING COLLECTION--945.05-SFO/GIO

The establishment of modern observational science embodying the spirit of the Renaissance

Andreas Vesalius. De humani corporis fabrica libri septem. Basle : Johannes Oporinus, 1543. Roman and italic type in a variety of sizes; paginated; full-page and in-text wood-engraved illustrations, decorative initials. The musclemen and skeletons (see example shown right) stand in the landscape of the Euganean Hills, the countryside south west of Padua where Vesalius was Professor. COLE--X427F (GRILLE)

3. The sixteenth century (ii)

In this case were shown a number of ambitious scientific and scholarly works of the century, printed and published by leading practitioners in France and the Low Countries; drawn from the Printing Collection, the Cole Library and the Stenton Library.

Dürer's observations on "the just shaping of letters"

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). Unterweisung der Messung. Albertus Durerus Nurembergensis pictor huius ætatis celeberrimus, versus è Germanica lingua in Latinam ... Quatuor his suaru[m] Institutionum geometricarum libris. Paris : Christian Wechel, 1535. Diagrams throughout the text; paginated. Book III contains Dürer's expositions on the construction of letters, with many large woodcut specimens of roman capitals, as shown here. PRINTING COLLECTION FOLIO--513-DUR

With the observations of a near-contemporary English twitcher

Pierre Belon (1517?-1564). Vrais portraits d'oyseaux, ... Paris : G. Cavellat, 1557. Foliated; woodcuts; small capitals, italic type in various sizes, and Greek. An English owner has added the English names and his or her own ornithological observations. COLE--136 Illustration from Belon's De aquatilibus, 1553

Subtle (but not necessarily contemporary) coloured illustrations

Pierre Belon (1517?-1564). De aquatilibus, ... Paris : Charles Estienne, 1553. Paginated; in an oblong format appropriate to the subject matter; hand-coloured woodcut illustrations (see example shown right of an 'Orca' - a type of dolphin - giving birth) COLE--136.

Plantin's Tacitus, with commentary and notes, 1585

Tacitus. Works. C. Cornelii Taciti Opera quae exstant... Antwerp : Christophe Plantin, 1585. Marginal references; paginated. PRINTING COLLECTION FOLIO--878.6.

Estienne's French-Latin dictionary-cum-phrase-book

Robert Estienne (1503-1559). Dictionaire francoislatin, contenant les motz & manieres de parler francois, tournez en latin. Paris : Robert Estienne, 1539. Printed in two columns; the French terms in italic and the Latin in roman type; criblé initials throughout; paginated. PRINTING COLLECTION FOLIO--443.7-EST.

Military art and science, printed by Plantin

Flavius Vegetius Renatus. De re militari libri quatuor. Antwerp : Christophe Plantin, 1585. Marginal notes; paginated. STENTON LIBRARY--BI/15.

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