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friends, in testimony of gratitude, friendship, and affection. All this was done and finished by us when only 16 years of age.”

Interesting as this statement is, and correct as it possibly may be, it can scarcely be accepted as an historical fact, inasmuch as no one but the alleged discoverer appears ever to have seen the originals.

Besides the preceding doubtful account we have notices of a print in the Library of Lyons with the date 1384. Specimens of engravings of playing cards, as well as of saints, said to have been produced in the years 1390 and 1400 are also extant. From the year 1400 to 1440 other and more elaborate engravings, of a devotional character, are likewise to be met with. One of the most curious, representing St. Christopher carrying the infant Saviour across the sea, is in the possession of Earl Spencer, and bears the date 1423. A few

years later we find similar prints accompanied with explanatory inscriptions or texts of Scripture placed beneath them; next came whole series of these prints published together as a book ; and lastly, the small Latin Grammars of Donatus, the common school-books of the day, engraved and printed in like manner. These productions are distinguished by Bibliographers as Block-books, and nine or ten different specimens are known to exist. Of these the most remarkable are the Biblia Pauperum, or Poor Man's Bible, * a book containing 40 pages of quarto, or small folio prints, with several engravings with inscriptions upon each page, supposed to have been executed (most probably at Zwollet in Holland) between

*

* This is shewn, in the history of wood-cutting by Mr. J. JACKSON, not to have been the original title of the work, which was rather, says the writer, a book for the use of preachers than the laity,—“A series of skeleton sermons, ornamented with woodcuts to warm the preacher's imagination, and stored with texts to assist his memory.”

† The blocks of the original Biblia Pauperum re-appeared in this city on the revival of wood-engraving in Holland; and it is the opinion of Mr. BRADSHAW, that it was here

the years 1420 and 1435; and the Speculum Humanæ Salvationis,* or Mirror of Salvation, a book containing 63 leaves in the two Latin, and 62 in the two Dutch editions, (each in small folio), 58 of which are ornamented with engravings representing stories from the Old and New Testaments, beneath which

more copious explanatory inscriptions Mulier awe i padilo eft founata De con's vini dimient's ea parata Đeo atỸ ip&quommỡ cup bíp họẽ Trí 09 2 enå i loro voluptatis plafmanit

are

[Copy of an Inscription on the first leaf of the “Speculum Humanæ Salvationis."']

the earliest of the block-books was produced. This opinion has additional importunce attached to it, from the fact that Zwolle was, in the early part of the Fifteenth century, celebrated as a seat of learning. "Thomas á Kempis, according

á to Meiners, whom Eichhorn and Heeren have followed presided over a school at Zwoll, wherein Agricola, Hegius, Langius, and Dringeberg, the restorers of learning in Germany, were educated.”-HALLAM's Introduction to the Literature of Europe, 8vo. 1837. vol. i. p. 149.

* Some writers consider that the whole of the text of what are considered the first and last editions, and a large

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than those in the “Biblia Pauperum." These editions are supposed to have been published between the years 1430 and 1457.

Mean as these books would seem if issued from the press at the present day, they were wonderful productions for the age in which they appeared; and although the first named was called the ‘Poor Man's Bible,' or 'Book

6

portion of the text of the other two, were printed from moveable wooden letters; others again assert, that these letters were made of cast fusile metal. No positive proof, however, has been, or can be given that they were the latter. That the texts were separately printed, is evident, from the different inks employed, the burnished appearance of the paper at the back of the cuts, and the indentations at the back of the lines of type. These last, differing considerably in different specimens, give rise to differences of opinion as to whether the impressions were produced by an ordinary printing press, or by some other method of imparting pressure. The presumption is that all, or nearly all, the impressions of the oldest specimens of the art, printed only on one side of the paper or vellum, were taken in the Chinese way. Before the press was invented, there certainly was a possibility, but that was all, of printing otherwise ; but after its invention, impressions could most easily be taken on both sides of the paper, without the risk of spoiling the first, while “perfecting' (i. e. printing) the reverse or blank side of the sheet. As the press was not an essential in blockprinting, it was probably not thought of in that embryonic state of the art. But after separable, and especially metallic, letters were made, the press could no longer be dispensed with; types would be all but useless without it; for although impressions might still be taken by careful rubbing, the paper being sufficiently damped, that process would be attended with much additional trouble, owing to the precautions rendered necessary to avoid cutting through the paper, or otherwise spoiling it by blacking the margins on the inked coffin or chase in which the types, when formed into a page, were screwed or quoined or wedged together. The date of the invention of the LETTER press, by the adaptation of the screw to the purposes of bookprinting, is thus an important element in the consideration of questions relating to the origin of Typography.

of the Poor,' it was only in comparison with the cost of a written copy of the Holy Scriptures, which was worth the, in that day, enormous sum of £100.* As

As very few copies are now in existence, (and those generally in an imperfect state), they have literally become worth more than their weight in gold: a copy of the Biblia Pauperum having

* About £1000, or £1200, of current English money.

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