Gutenberg to Plantin: An Outline of the Early History of Printing

Gutenberg to Plantin: An Outline of the Early History of Printing

Gutenberg to Plantin: An Outline of the Early History of Printing

Gutenberg to Plantin: An Outline of the Early History of Printing

Excerpt

The study of the early history of printing has entered upon a new phase since the World War. It is a double phase, divided by the year 1500. The accumulated information of all that happened before that date is being coördinated, but the results must be held as tentative until the completion of a new catalogue of fifteen-century books. For the sixteenth century, a beginning has been made, but nothing more, toward bringing together widely scattered data.

A hundred years ago, Ludwig Hain made it possible to study fifteenth-century books intelligently, by printing descriptions of 16,300 titles known to him. Half a century later, Henry Bradshaw showed that the proper way to classify these titles, in order to get at the hidden story of printing, is to group the books from each press in their chronological order. Robert Proctor, in the eighteen-nineties, applied this method to the "Fifteeners" in the British Museum and Bodleian libraries, locating with brilliant intuition nearly half of the total number that were published without any name of place or of printer, or date. Proctor's work revealed for the first time the details of how printing spread over Europe. It made possible the systematic classifica-

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