January 26, 2011



Cooper, Thomas. Thesaurus linguae Romanae & Britannicae, tam accurate congestus, ut nihil penè in eo desyderavi possit, quod vel Latinè complectatur amplissimus Stephani Thesaurus, vel Anglicè, toties aucta Eliotae B̆ibliotheca : opera & indistria Thomae Cooperi Magdalenensis ; Quid fructus ex hoc Thesauro studiosi possint excerpere, & quam rationem secutus author sit in Vocabulorum interpretatione & dispositione, post epistolam demonstratur ; Accessit Dictionarium historicum & poëticum propris vocabula Virorum, Mulierum, Sectsrum, Populorum, Vrbium, Montium & caeterorum locorum complectens, & in his iucundißimas ; Thesaurus linguae et Britannicae & omnium cognitione dignißimas historias. Impressum Londini (Am Ende : Excusum Londini : In aedibus Henrici Bynemani, Typographi.), 1584. FOLIO. 867 lvs., 32 cm., Early calf heavily worn with loss, notably loss of spine, later front pastedown and flyleaf though preserving initial blank, some early ink defacement and minor loss to upper corner of t.p., some toning as usual, a couple relatively modern pen annotations, but generally a COMPLETE, VERY GOOD and an utterly fascinating(!) work.    Provenance: S.F. Johnson  [$1325  – SOLD]

Thomas Cooper’s famous Latin English dictionary was of the greatest importance in shaping Elizabethan education. It owes its name in part to Estienne’s Thesaurus linguae Latinae of 1532, and is indebted as well to Sir Thomas Elyot’s dictionary of 1532 (Cooper later edited the Bibliotheca Eliotae), as well as to the literary humanist tradition of Northern Europe, notably Erasmus and Bude. The work notably included such innovations as pronunciation. [See: Green. I. Humanism and Protestantism in early modern English education]

“To those of us who reach for a dictionary or a thesaurus at the first moment of literary puzzlement, the lack of any such book must have been an inconvenience, to say the least… William Shakespeare, for example, had no access to a dictionary during most of his writing career–certainly from 1580, when he began, it was a quarter of a century before any volume might appear in which he could look something up….That is not to say there were no reference books available at all. In the late 16th century, bookstore tables were weighed down with all manner of missals, biographies, histories of the sciences and of art, prayer books, Bibles, romances, atlases, and accounts of exotic travel. Shakespeare would have had access to all of these, and more. He is known (from a careful statistical examination of his word usages) to have used as a crib a Thesaurus edited by the bishop of Winchester, one Thomas Cooper ” [Ref: Winchester, Simon. The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary. 2004., pg 19]. It should also be noted that Queen Elizabeth is recorded to have owned and used a copy of Cooper’s work.

The Printer:

“Henry Bynneman’s career as a printer lasted from 1566, when he became free of the Stationers’ Company, until 1583. He had been apprenticed to Richard Harrison in 1560, but that printer died about January of 1563, and Bynneman served the remainder of his apprenticeship with Reyner Wolfe. He became one of that select group of printers to whom Archbishop Parker extended his patronage. Through the good offices of Leicester and Sir Christopher Hatton, Bynneman obtained a privilege to print “all dictionaries in all tongues, all chronicles and histories whatsoever.” It was the only privilege he could obtain and not a particularly valuable one, but it enabled him to print Holinshed’s Chronicles” [Wikipedia]


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