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A Note On The History Of Printing

( Originally Published Late 1800's )

I do not know whether the following discrepancy of dates in the history of printing has been observed or accounted for. If so, perhaps there may be something in the notice of the Chronicle from which it is taken which may atone for bringing it before you.

It is said (by Astle) that Fust and Gutenberg, who were said to have used moveable wooden types, and perhaps did so print a few pages, separated their partnership in 1455. Now, under the date 1459, Philip de Lignamine; himself a printer of 1474, writes in the present tense, " Jacob, by name Gutenburger, by birth an Argentine, and a certain other named Justus (Fustus ?), both skilfull of printing letters on skins with metal types, are known to make each of them 300 sheets (` cartas') a day at Maguntia, a city of Germany. John, also called Mentelin, at Argentina, a city of the same province, and skilful in the same art, is known to print as many sheets a day." I am not quite certain if he here speaks of them as partners or not. The year in question, 1459, is said to have seen the first book printed with cast metal types, namely, " Durandi Rituale," at Mentz. (Meer-man, cited by Astle, p. 218.) Fust and Schceffer having used for the small letters of their Psalter of 1457, moveable metal types, but cut, not cast.

The above notice is from the Original and Contemporary part of the Chronicon of John Philip de Lignamine, a Messenian, a knight of Sicily, and typographer of Rome, and familiar friend of Pope Sixtus IV. (printed at Rome, and dedicated to Sixtus). He hints that he had increased the work of some other author, but does not say whose. With the exception of whole periods, lines, and words omitted, whereby it is almost unintelligible, Eccard (the editor of the "Corpus Historicum Medii A vi ") found it in all else the sane with a Chronicle by a Ferrarese, seemingly Ricobaldi, as far down as the year 1312. Thenceforward it is continued down to 1473, the third of Pope Sixtus. In which year, after the spoiling of Spoletum, Indertum, and Castellum, it ends thus : "Of this most worthy pontiff, in the third year of whose pontificate we know other famous things, we' leave the feats to be commemorated by others who can do that better. Let him be the end of this series of times." Eccard has twice dated this Chronicle as down only to 1469. And yet 1471 follows in plain figures ; and it comes down to 1473, and seems printed in the year 1474. Perhaps this may be considered as the first date of a work originally printed, and this Chronicle, from 1312 to 1473, as one of the first specimens. Caxton's first print in England, the " Game at Chess," is stated to have been finished in the Abbey of Westminster, the last of March, 1474, and was followed by the " Book of Jason," in 1475. And Caxton's " Recueil des Histoires de Troyes," printed at Bruges in 1468, continued at Ghent, and finished at Cologne in 1471, was a translation, not an original. Some block books, executed before 1450, may rank as originals, but hardly as books in the modern sense of the word.

J. G. remarks that, in the list of places where printing was practised before 1500, derived from Santander, and printed in various common books, as in Horne's " Introduction to Bibliography," i. 175, and Johnson's "Typographia," 64, the city of Granada is entered under the date of 1497, with the printer's name of Menardus Ungut. Horne further gives the title of the book which was first printed there as " Franc. Xi menes de vita christiana." J. G. refers to " Spain and the Spaniards " in 1843, by Captain S. E. Widdrington, vol. ii., p. 195, for a passage which establishes more correctly the date when printing was first practised in Granada, the name of the printer, and the title of the book printed. In the library of the University at Santiago Captain Widdrington was shown a book with the following colophon, "Fue acabado y impresso este primero volumen de vita Cristi de Fray Francisco Ximenes de la grande y nombrada ciudad de Granada, en el postri mero dia del mes de Abril A. 1496, por Bernardo Ungut y Johannes de Nuremberg, Alemanes, por mendado y espensas del muy reverendisimo Senor don Fernando de Talavera, primero arzobisbo de Granada de la santa Iglesia de esta ciudad." "This first volume of the ` Life of Christ' was finished and printed by Fray Francisco Ximenes [the celebrated Cardinal], of the great and celebrated city of Granada, on the last day of April, 1496, by Bernard Ungut and John of Nuremberg, Germans, by order and at the expense of the most reverend Senor Don Fernando de Talavera, first Archbishop of Granada, of the holy church of that city."



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