H-25. Fifteenth-Century Books in Print & Manuscript - Advance Reading List

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  • Preliminary Advices


    The reading list is in two parts: first, some publications by Paul Needham (PN) that attempt to sketch out a few methodologies and their historical backgrounds; second, a diverse group of earlier studies, in English, that are of unusual quality. The course will get off to a faster start if you are able to read one or more of the following. If anyone is happy reading in German, please email PN, who will send another short list of some classics of German bibliographical investigation (few students have ever responded to this offer!). Please try to read, and perhaps bring with you, in photocopy, at least I.1, I.4, and II.1.


        1. Needham, Paul. “ISTC as a tool for analytical bibliography.” In Bibliography and the Study of 15th-Century Civilization, edited by Lotte Hellinga & John Goldfinch, 39–54. London, 1987.
        2. Needham, Paul. The Printer & The Pardoner: An Unrecorded Indulgence Printed by William Caxton for the Hospital of St. Mary Rounceval, Charing Cross. Washington DC: Library of Congress, 1986. Re: bibliographical evidence from binding waste. On the same topic: “Fragments in Books: Dutch Prototypography in the Van Ess Collection.” In ‘so precious a foundation’: The Library of Leander van Ess, edited by Milton McC. Gatch, 85–110. New York, 1996: exhibition catalogue of Union Theological Seminary & The Grolier Club
        3. Needham, Paul. “Concepts of Paper Study.” In Puzzles in Paper: Concepts in Historical Watermarks, edited by Daniel W. Mosser, Michael Saffle & Ernest W. Sullivan II, 1–36. London & New Castle, DE: The British Library & Oak Knoll Press, 2000). Best to read after Stevenson, infra (II.4). If you want to dig deeper, see also “Res papirea: Sizes and Formats of the Late Medieval Book.” In Rationalisierung der Buchherstellung im Mittelalter und in der frühen Neuzeit, edited by Peter Rück, 123–145. Marburg an der Lahn, 1994. This book seems to be almost unfindable in the U.S., unfortunately); and “Aldus Manutius’s Paper Stocks: The Evidence of two Uncut Books.” Princeton University Library Chronicle 55:2 (Winter 1994): 287–307.
        4. Needham, Paul. “Counting Incunables: The IISTC CD-ROM.” Review Essay. Huntington Library Quarterly 61:3/4 (2000), 456–529. Includes a survey history of incunable cataloguing.


        1. Bradshaw, Henry. “The Printer of the Historia S. Albani.” Memorandum No. 1, Cambridge: 1868; reprinted in his Collected Papers (Cambridge, 1889): 149–63. Perhaps the first true “classic” of analytical bibliography. It will repay careful reading, for Bradshaw sometimes seems deceptively simple. I wrote on Bradshaw: The Bradshaw Method: Henry Bradshaw’s Contribution to Bibliography. The Seventh Hanes Lecture. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1988.
        2. Goldschmidt, E. Ph. Gothic & Renaissance Bookbindings, 2 vols. London, 1928; reprinted Amsterdam, 1967. Read the introduction for an orientation on questions of fifteenth and sixteenth century bookbinding history. Everything written by G. D. Hobson and A. R. A. Hobson on bookbindings is good; and likewise by Howard M. Nixon and Mirjam Foot.
        3. Ker, Neil R. Pastedowns in Oxford Bindings. Oxford: OxfordBibliographical Society, Publications, New Series, V, 1954. Read the Introduction. Anything Ker wrote on any topic is worth reading. See, inter alia, the selection of articles in his Books, Collectors & LibrariesHambledon Press, [1985]), e.g. pp. 321–26, “The Chaining … of Manuscripts Belonging to the Old University Library”; and/or “The Library of John Jewel,” Bodleian Library Record IX:5 (1977): 256–65.
        4. Stevenson, Allan H. “Watermarks are Twins.” Studies in Bibliography IV (1951–52): 57–91. A classic work to the same degree as Bradshaw’s, above; his examples are centered on seventeenth-century paper, but his method applies to European papermaking from the fourteenth through eighteenth centuries. Do not forget Stevenson’s The Problem of the Missale Speciale. London: Bibliographical Society, 1967, which is both pathbreaking and beautifully written. I wrote on Stevenson: “Allan H. Stevenson and the Bibliographical Uses of Paper.” Studies in Bibliography 47 (1994): 23–64.



  • Manuscripts

    Hindman, Sandra and J.D. Farquhar, Pen to Press: Illustrated Manuscripts and Printed Books in the First Century of Printing. College Park, MD: University of Maryland, 1977.

    Vezin, J. “La realisation materielle des manuscrits latins pendant la haut Moyen Age,” Codicologica, 2 (1978): 15–51.

    de Hamel, Christopher. Scribes and Illuminators. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992.