Archive Page 2

Acquisitions Digest: Alter und neuer Krieg- und Siegs-Allmanach

A recent acquisition, adding to the Beinecke’s collections of early modern British and European almanacs: a sammelband of 30 late seventeenth-century German almanacs, stitched in a paper wrapper with pages interleaved for manuscript notes.  Beinecke call number: 2010 300.  Below, an almaniacal excerpt, from Swift’s satire; Beinecke call number: Ik Sw55 +708Eb.

Birds of Yore: An Interlude

In a new take on the roles and methodologies of public history, crane chicks have been hatched in England for the first time since their extinction in the seventeenth century, and crane chick specialists will dress as birds to teach them English crane culture.   In honor of this—and in a bid for historical ornithological re-enactment as a league sport—Beinecke early modern is proud to host a brief Birds of Yore interlude, featuring engravings from the work of George Edwards, author of A Natural History of Uncommon Birds, printed for the author at the College of Physicians, [1743]-1751.

A tip of the hat to our early modern feathered friends and their fans!

For the ornithologically intrigued, visit some of the Beinecke’s online bird collections in the Beinecke’s Digital Images & Collections.  Below, an 1843 sighting of a woodpecker, in John Bell’s Diary of an Expedition with John James Audubon (call number: WA MSS S-1752, in the Beinecke’s Yale Collection of Western Americana).

April in Gloucester, or, (Almost)This Week in History

“The Day following, Don Philip made his public Entry into the City of Parma, where he was received with the greatest Demonstrations of Joy by all Ranks of People, and was immediately complimented thereupon by the Nobility, the Bishops of Parma and Guastalla, and by a large Body of Merchants.  In the Evening he was entertain’d at Supper by M. d’Umada, in the Palace of Giandemaria; after which his Royal Highness went to the Ducal Palace.  On this Occasion, Illuminations and Rejoicings were made for three Nights successively, and the Cannon of the Castle were fired.  As yet he has made no Alteration in the Government, excepting that he has conferred the Government of Parma upon the Advocate Arceli.”

“STOLEN out of the Stable of Mr. Thomas Baylis, of New-Mills, in the Parish of Stroud, Gloucestershire, on the 12th of March last, between the Hours of Nine at Night and Four the next Morning, a black NAG, about 14 Hands and a half high, with a Star, a white Spot on the Far Hip … Whoever give Notice of the said Nag, (so as he may be had again) or of the Person or Persons that stole the same, (so as he or they may be convicted thereof) shall receive Three Guineas Reward from me, Thomas Baylis.”

“On Thursday an Order was sent to the New-Gaol from the Duke of Newcastle’s Office, for the Discharge of one Mr. Charles Watson, a Rebel Prisoner belonging to the Manchester Regiment, taken at Carlisle.

There are now only two Persons confined in the New-Gaol on account of the late Rebellion, viz. Mac Donald and Mac Gregor.”

“We, the under-written, do hereby Certify, That the Town of Dursley, in the County of Gloucester, is now entirely free from the SMALL-POX, and has been so for some Weeks past.

Charles Wallington, Minister.
George Faithorn, Richard Tippetts, Churchwardens.
John Gethen, Thomas Hughes, Overseers.
Charles Wallington, Apothecary.”

From a recent acquisition of The Gloucester Journal, volume 27, numbers 1391 – 1442. From Tuesday, January 3, 1748-9 to Tuesday December 26, 1749. Printed by R. Raikes, in the Black-Fryars, Gloucester.

The Beinecke has extensive collections of early modern newspapers and gazettes, particularly for Britain.  To browse the catalog, try a search in the “Genre/Form” field of the “Advanced Search”  option in Orbis, the Yale Library online catalog, for “Newspapers-England-17th century” or “Newspapers-England-18th century.”  Some titles include: The Cirencester Flying-Post; The British merchant, or, Commerce preserv’d; Mercurius bifrons, or, The English Janus: the one side true and serious, the other jocular.

Beinecke Lectures in the History of the Book—Spring 2010

Beinecke Lectures in the History of the Book
Spring 2010

Please join us at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library for the Spring 2010 series of the Beinecke Lectures in the History of the Book. This series explores our historical understanding of the book as a cultural object, a discussion made all the more relevant as text becomes an increasingly electronic medium.

All are welcome; lectures are free and open to the public. Lectures are held at 4:00 pm at the Beinecke Library, 121 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06510. For more information on the Beinecke Lectures in the History of the Book, please visit our web-site.

Tuesday, March 23, 4:oo pm
Medieval Manuscripts and Literary Forms

Jessica Brantley is Associate Professor in the Yale University Department of English and the author of Reading in the Wilderness: Private Devotion and Public Performance in Late Medieval England (2007). She received a National Humanities Center fellowship in 2009 for her current project, Medieval Ways of Seeing: Image, Text, Artifact. Look here for more on Professor Brantley’s research.

Thursday, April 29, 4:00 pm
Bookishness & Digital Literature

Jessica Pressman, Assistant Professor in the Yale University Department of English, works on the intersections of literary culture and digital media. Her current book project, Digital Modernism: Making it New in New Media, charts a relationship between electronic literature and literary modernism. Look here for more on Professor Pressman’s research.

Questions? Contact Kathryn James, Assistant Curator for Early Modern, at:

From the Reading Room: Block Book Printing

Contributed to Early Modern at the Beinecke by Morgan Swan.  Morgan, who completed his doctorate in the Yale University English Department, works in the Beinecke Library Access Services department and is finishing his Master’s of Library Science.

From the Reading Room: This series of postings highlights the research of students, research fellows, and other scholars working in the Beinecke’s early modern collections.

Johannes Gutenberg’s refinement of the printing process in 1450 profoundly altered the relationship between reader and text in the western world.  However, the division between manuscript and printed text was not nearly as clean-cut as is often believed. Block books were books that contained both images and text, all printed from the same carved wooden blocks. These liminal books had been in production for several decades before Mainz’s most famous son began issuing his Bibles; they represent an often overlooked link between the cultures of manuscript and print.

These books, also known as xylographic texts, were mainly printed in the Netherlands and Germany during the first half of the fifteenth century. The printing process was simple: one purchased a carved set of blocks from the woodcutter, wet them with ink, placed a sheet of paper on top, and rubbed the back of the paper vigorously with an implement until the ink was transferred from the raised ridges on the block to the surface of the paper. For this reason, most block book pages have printing only on one side, although some later versions were produced in a printing press and therefore have images on both sides. The simple, stark nature of the images, combined with the rough and sometimes illegible text, belied the artistry that was necessary to shape such an unforgiving medium as wood.

Because each block had to be carved by hand, the artisans who carved and sold these images would often only create sets that they knew would sell. As a result, there are only a limited number of books remaining from the era of the block book. One such text is the Dutch Apocalpysis Sancti Johannis, known to English readers as the Apocalypse of St. John (or the Book of Revelation) and considered to be the most extensive and artistically pristine of block books. The examples above and immediately below are from a facsimile (a rarity in its own right) held by the Beinecke, depicting Revelation 16:8-11.

In addition to the facsimile copy of this popular block-book, the Beinecke Library holds an original single sheet printed from a different set of blocks:

Note the coloration in this second example. Decoration would have been commissioned by the buyer or printer of the block book or, as seems to have been the case in this example, done with their own unskilled hand. Another point of interest is the variation in the style of the woodcutters of the two blocks. The Beinecke’s artisan appears to have had greater skill than that of the facsimile’s original creator; note the delicate width of the fingers on the lower angel, for example. It is a shame that the illustrator of the Beinecke page lacked the same degree of finesse, even if the splashes of vivid red on the mouths of blasphemers in the lower right image, representing their bloody tongues rent in anguish, are disturbingly appropriate.

Ironically, the advent of Gutenberg’s moveable type also signaled a step backwards for such a sophisticated artistic interrelation of text and image. It would be many centuries before printers would find a way to intertwine the two in so closely-knit and stylistically satisfying fashion as is found in the block book.

Item 1: H. Theodor Musper, Die Urausbagen der hollaendischen Apokalypse und Biblia pauperum (Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1961); Beinecke call number: X183 A64 +961.  Item 2: Apocalypsis Sancti Johannis.  Netherlands, ca. 1470?  Beinecke call number: Zi +40.

A Bookish Interlude with…Wit in a Constable

Actus primus, Scena prima.

Enter Holdfast, Tristram.


Did you ere we departed from the Colledge
Orelooke my library?

Trist. Yes sir, I spent two dayes in sorting Poets from Historians,
As many nights in placing the divines
On their owne chayres, I meane their shelves, and then
n separating Philosophers from those people
That kill men with a license: your Physitians
Cost me a whole dayes labour, and I find sir,
Although you tell me learning is immortall,
The paper and the parchment, tis contayn’d in,
Savors of much mortality.

Hold. I hope my bookes are all in health.
Trict.  In the same case the Mothes have left them, who have eaten more
Authenticke learning then would richly furnish
A hundred country pedants; yet the wormes
Are not one letter wiser.

Hold I have beene idle
Since I came back from Cambridge, goe to my stationer
And bid him send me Swarez Metaphysickes,
Tolet de anima
is new forth,
So are Granadas commentaries on
Primum secundae Thomae Aquinatis
Get me the Lyricke Poets.  And—
. I admire
How he retaines these Authors names, of which
He understands no sillable, ’twere better
I bought the Authenticke Legend of Sir Bevis,
Some six new Ballads and the famous Poems
Writ by the learned waterman.
Hold. Iohn Taylor, get me his nonsense.
Trist.  You mean all his workes sir.

Hold.  And a hundred of Bookers new Almanacks.
Trist. And the divell to boot,
Your fathers bookes in which he keeps th accounts
Of all his coyne will scarce yield crowns to afford
Your fancy volums : why you have already
Enough to furnish a new Vatican,
A hundred country pedants can read dictats
To their young pupills out of Setons logicke,
Or Golius Ethicks, and make them arrive,
Proficients learn’d enough in one bare twelmonth
To instruct the parish they were borne in : you
Out of an itch to this same foolish learning
Bestow more money yearely upon books:
Then would for convent sisters build an almes-house.
Hold.  You displease my patience Tristram.

Henry Glapthorne, Wit in a constable. A comedy written 1639. The author Henry Glapthorne. And now printed as it was lately acted at the Cock-pit in Drury lane, by their Majesties servants, with good allowance.  London, Printed by Io. Okes, for F.C. and are to be sold at his shops in Kings-street at the signe of the Goat, and in Westminster-Hall, 1640.  Beinecke call number: Z77 91k.

From the Reading Room: The Text Font of the First Folio

Contributed to Early Modern at the Beinecke by Reed Reibstein, an undergraduate student in the Yale University History of Art Department and a student in Professor David Kastan’s Fall 2009 class, Materializing the Word: The Book as Object, Technology, Concept, and Event, 1500-1800.

From the Reading Room: This series of postings highlights the research of students, research fellows, and other scholars working in the Beinecke’s early modern collections.

As the compositors in William Jaggard’s print shop plucked countless sorts out of their cases, composing page after double-columned page from 1621 to 1623, they could not have suspected that they were handling a font that would be the object of more study than perhaps any other before or since. The font certainly would not have appeared remarkable in any way; it was cast on a pica body, the most common size of the era, and fonts made from the same punches had been owned by more than thirty printers since 1570. Moreover, the font was weathered, having been in use probably for well over a decade.

Surprisingly, it was precisely this battered condition that made it so fruitful for detailed analysis: the numerous visible defects in the sorts of the First Folio’s text font have proved the most powerful tool for reconstructing the book’s printing history. Charlton Hinman in The Printing and Proof-Reading of the First Folio of Shakespeare devoted 98 pages in his first volume and much of the second to an analysis of the Folio’s type, making the text font the subject of an extraordinary amount of research.

Despite an extensive analysis of its distinctive sorts, few Folio scholars (including Hinman) have examined the origins and characteristics of the font itself, and the limited information available in the literature to date is more a result of generalization than of detailed scrutiny. I measured the dimensions of the text font in the Beinecke’s First Folio (BEIN 1978 +83), finding twenty lines of type to measure 82.7 mm.

Visual and historical evidence have led me to suggest that the font is the second pica roman of Pierre Haultin (as described by H.D.L. Vervliet in The Palaeotypography of the French Renaissance), cast for Jaggard’s use probably around 1603 or 1608 by an unknown typefounder who likely inherited the matrices from Pierre’s nephew Jerome Haultin. The font was old and in poor condition when it was used to print the Folio, which supports the view that Jaggard and his pressmen did not see the Folio as an unusually important book.

If the results of this research are to be accepted, they will correct two particularly enduring statements made about the font by Horace Hart in 1902: The font appears to be of French origin, not Dutch, and it was not commissioned specifically for the printing of the Folio but rather had been in use for fifteen or twenty years by 1623.

Images drawn from Beinecke call number: 1978 +83. Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, histories, & tragedies. Published according to the true originall copies. London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed. Blount, 1623.