Collections of Distinction

Posts Tagged ‘bookbindings’

Early bindings at the BPL

Posted on July 2nd, 2015 by jmoschella in Collections of Distinction

Distributed throughout the many distinct collections in  our  stacks are thousands of early bookbinding specimens. Pictured below are a few representative examples, pulled at the request of a visiting researcher.

A Caxton autograph, but which?

Posted on June 26th, 2015 by jmoschella in Collections of Distinction

The binding of MS f Med. 92 is attributed to a monastery in northern France, no later than 1471.

William Caxton (ca. 1422-1491) is primarily remembered as the printer of the first English book, The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, and for his subsequent production of at least 100 other books, pamphlets, and other pieces of printing. Caxton’s work, along with that of Richard Pynson and a small group of other early printers, helped to usher in a period of linguistic standardization through which an often disjointed patchwork of local dialects was molded into modern English.

William Caston (fl. 1452-1460) was a wool merchant of the English Staple at Calais who has been all but forgotten save for an accident of history: W.J.B. Crotch found Caston’s name within certain contemporary legal documents and mistook him for the printer. Such a mixup was understandable: the two Englishmen worked in similar fields for a time and had both lived abroad during roughly the same period in roughly the same part of the world. Even their names — “Caxton” and “Caston” — were themselves historically interchangeable.


Making the private lives of our rare books public

Posted on November 25th, 2014 by jmoschella in Collections of Distinction

(Above): a current-day view of the Piazza Santissima Annunziata, in Florence, where our copy of Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium lived during the 16th century (photo from wikimedia commons)

The record of ownership of a book, commonly referred to as its “provenance,” is one of the most exciting and important areas of research for rare books librarians. Though time consuming, this kind of work is a great chance to comb through centuries of bibliography, reconstructing the historic record and establishing important connections between different people and their exposure to different ideas. Over the past several months, we have been able to uncover many of these important connections within our own collections. Below are just a few examples.