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in attributing various undated books to one or other of the earliest established presses, guess-work, and the bias of national prejudice, have largely prevailed amongst even the most painstaking of European bibliographers. This unscientific method, long felt to be a reproach to learning and literature, has of late years been attempted to be remedied by a more close and critical examination of the Incunabula, or books printed in the Fifteenth century. “The method of arranging these early books under the countries, towns, and presses at which they were produced,” says Mr. Henry Bradshaw, the Librarian of the University of Cambridge, “is the only one which can really advance our knowledge of the subject.
This is compa
Horne, Kästner, Mallinckrot, Maittaire, Maitland, Meiners, Mendez, Montucla, Naudé, Niceron, Panzer, Portal, Santander, Sismondi, Sprengel, Sotheby, Tennemann, Tiraboschi, Vanderhaeghen, Van der Meersch, Van Iseghem, Van Pract, Watt, Wolf, Würdtwein, Zapf.
ratively easy with dated books, though there is no safeguard against the misleading nature of an erroneous date. But the study is of little use unless the bibliographer will be content to make such an accurate and methodical study of the types used and habits of printing observable at different presses, as to enable him to observe and be guided by these characteristics in settling the date of a book which bears no date on the surface. We do not want the opinion or dictum of any bibliographer, however experienced; we desire that the types and habits of each printer should be made a special subject of study, and those points brought forward which shew changes or advance from year to year, or where practicable, from month to month. When this is done, we have to say of any dateless or falsely dated book, that it contains such and such characteristics, and we therefore place it at such a point of time, the time we name being merely another expression for the characteristics we notice in the book. In fact each press must be looked upon as a genus, and each book as a species, and our business is to trace the more or less close connection of the different members of the family, according to the characters which they present to our observation.”
The study thus defined is designated Palæotypography; and concerning it Mr. Bradshaw further says, “except Mr. Blades's monograph of Caxton's press, * the Hague Catalogust and Monumens Typographiques are the only books existing in any literature, so far as I know, which render the study of palæotypography in any way possible upon a proper
* The Life and Typography of William Caxton, by WILLIAM BLADES. 2 vols. 4to. with 57 fac-simile illustrations. London, 1861–63.
| Catalogus Librorum Sæc. XVI. impressorum, in Bibliotheca Regia Haganâ asservatorum, 8vo. Hagae, 1856.
Monumens Typographiques des Pays Bays au XVe Sieclé, 20 livraisons, imp. 4to. 120 plates of fac-similes. La Haye, 1857-66. Of this magnificent work only 200 copies were printed.
basis. Germany, Italy, France, and Spain, are at present perfectly impracticable fields of work, and are, I fear, likely to remain so for some time to come.'
Respecting Mr. Bradshaw's own labours in this field of investigation, Mr. Frederick Müller of Amsterdam, an enthusiastic bibliographer of rare power, bears the following testimony:t-“Hardly anybody in England takes an interest in foreign bibliography the only exception being that excellent bibliographer, Henry Bradshaw, Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, who is examining with great enthusiasm the Incunabula Typographica, and who has lately arrived at most surprising and important results in this department.........I do not know which most
* Classified Index of Fifteenth Century Books in the Collection of the late M. J. de Meyer of Ghent. 8vo. London, 1870. pp. 15–16.
+ TRÜBNER's American and Oriental Literary Record, July, 1870.
to admire — the acumen of the conjectures about the places where some of the works were printed, or the clearness with which the writer treats several very difficult subjects. ...... This method of ascribing a work solely from the appearance of the types used, he carries to the utmost point of application...... Mr. Bradshaw is the first who turns to advantage the excellent lessons of the French and German bibliographers, and through him a new light will probably arise in English bibliography.”
To the researches of Mr. Bradshaw and Mr. Blades, and to the labours of Mr. Ottley* and Mr. Humphreys,f in their last published
* Inquiry concerning the Invention of Printing, by W. Y. OTTLEY. 4to. 37 plates, and other engravings. London, 1863.
† A History of the Art of Printing: Its Invention and Progress to the Middle of the Sixteenth Century, by H. Noel HUMPHREYS. imp. 4to. 105 photo-lithographic facsimiles. London, 1869.