August 25, 2009

A History of the World from 1480



The Incunable:

ROLEWINCK, Werner (1425-1502). Fasciculus temporum, [Dutch:] Dat boek dat men hiet Fasciculus temporum. With additions. Utrecht: Johann Veldener, 14 February 1480.. Chancery Folio, wide margined., 276 x 205 mm., woodcut illustrations printed from 20 blocks, numerous woodcut coats-of-arms, 324 leaves of 338 ff; wanting prelim 8 ff. and viii, xiv, xxxviii, xliv, cccxxx. Numerous woodcuts of towns, personages etc., and over 200 woodcut escutcheons; woodcut illustrations colored by a contemporary hand as depicted. Original wooden boards, stripped of leather with exposed holes for bosses and metal fixtures, front board detached, spine exposed. 13-14th century vellum manuscript pastedowns, with 17th century additional Dutch note pasted to board. First quires browned and wrinkled with wear, some staining throughout, occasional marginal repairs with text loss, some pages detached from textblock., old manuscript t.p., some contemporary marginal notations, two red wax seals affixed to inner boards. Fol. 338 CCCxxix with late 15th/early 16th century marginal manuscript colophon with hand drawn copy of Veldener’s device, stating”: Hier Eyndet dat boeck dat men hiet fasciculus temporum in. houdende die Cro | nijcken van ouden tijden Als van dat die werlt eerst gliescapen is Ende van dat Adam ende Eua eerst ghemaect worden totter gheboert xpristi toe . . line 9: By my volmaect jan veldenar woennende tutrecht opten dam Irit jaer ons he- | ren MCCCClxxx…” Ref: BMC IV; Harvard/Walsh 3868-9; Goff R-278. Despite some faults, a copy imbued with historical authenticity, notably unwashed and unrestored in a contemporary binding. A VERY RARE and early edition of Rolewinck, and a marvel of typographical complexity in the incunable period.

Provenance: Presented by the Uncle of J.G.W. Steffen along with his wife, Ernestine van Badenborg”, as described in 1699 Maestricht note, pasted to inner board; circa 1840 American provenance of Appley, the Philadelphia Antiquary. On the inside of the cover is his label : ” Multce terricolis lingweccelestibusuna. Bought at the Tower of Babel, third story, long cast room, Arcade, where can be had Grammars and Dictionaries in one hundred languages. Luther Appley.” It is quite interesting that the book probably made it to America as part of the 18th century Dutch trade.

FIRST EDITION IN DUTCH of the great and famous history of the world by the erudite Cologne Carthusian. It was the most widely used historical reference work of the incunable period. “This edition contains extensive supplementary chronicles directed to a Dutch and Flemish readership, including histories of the dukes of Brabant, counts of Holland, Zeeland and Hainaut, bishops of Utrecht, and the kings of France and England.”

Recent scholarship has drawn attention to the connection between Jan Veldener, this book’s printer, and William Caxton, the first English printer,
during their formative period in Cologne in the early 1470s. It seems likely that Caxton acted as the publisher, financing Veldener’s printing.
It is also very likely that Veldener was chief compositor of the first book printed in the English language, the Recuyell of the Histories of Troy, and further, that he helped Caxton set up his famous press in Bruges. [Ref:  Blake, Norman Francis. William Caxton and English literary culture, 2001]

Interestingly, the Dutch Fasciculus temporum for sale here also contains one of the earliest references to the history of printing and the spread of the printed book. On leaf Cxci we find the statement, between the two dates of 1450 and 1453, that ” die boeckprinters worden seer vermenicht in alien landen.”: (trans.) “The printers of books are increasing in all countries.”


posted in: Rare Books