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Title: Early Typography
Author: Skeen, William
Language: English
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Early Typography.





The accumulation of materials in the writer’s hands in the course of
the last twelve months, has induced him to depart from his original
intention of limiting his labours to a single book. A sketch of the
history of the spread of the Art, after the sack of Mentz in 1462,
with notices of the most material improvements and recent inventions
connected with it, will, consequently, form the subjects of a separate
volume. It only remains for him now thankfully to acknowledge his
obligations to Mrs. J. Ferguson, and Messrs. Iliff, Ronald, and Paatz,
of Colombo, for their most kindly rendered assistance, by which he has
been enabled to complete this portion of his work much earlier than he
otherwise could have done.

    _January_ 20, 1872.

  INVENTORS of the Art Sublime
  Which Knowledge spreads thro’ every clime;
  Who far the fabled god excell’d,
  Prometheus, from heaven expell’d.
  Material fire _he_ brought to earth,
  _They_ flames of a diviner birth
  Drew from the seven-fold source of light
  Seen in the Patmos vision bright,
  When, the celestial portals raised,
  Man, on the Godhead’s glories gazed.
  Majestic Truth they thus reveal’d,
  By powers of Darkness long conceal’d;
  Ope’d Freedom’s doors to fetter’d Thought
  And forces into conflict brought--
  Mind against mind--an eager fray
  That shall not cease till Time’s last day;
  That keener as the contest grows,
  Truth greater, purer, mightier shews.
  Thus Knowledge each successive age
  Advances, wins an onward stage,
  And gathers in one focus bright
  Each fresh struck spark, each ray of light,
  And clears the mists that still are found
  Historic names and deeds around.
  This light, that truth reveals, t’ impart,
  I seek, Disciple of the Art;
  That to the famed Teutonic three
  Just meeds of praise may given be;
  That all aright the men may know
  To whom TYPOGRAPHY we owe;
  The men whose names immortal ring,
  Whose gifts transcendent blessings bring,
  Whose monuments in every land
  By wisdom rear’d, heart-honor’d stand,
  Inscribed in tongues of every clime--

                                         W. S.



  PREFACE                                                              9

  CHAPTER I.--Introductory.--Letter-press Printing the
  “Divine and Noble” Art--why so termed.--Freedom
  of the Press--where first proclaimed.--Printing
  known in China from time immemorial.--Method of
  Chinese Printing.--Bibliography and Palæotypography.                11

  CHAPTER II.--Date of the Origin of Typography in
  Europe.--Alleged Early Engravings.--Playing
  Cards.--Block-books.--Mr. F. Holt’s Hypothesis.--Evidence
  of Costume.--German “Brief-malers.”--Decree of Government
  of Venice.--State of Europe in the Middle Ages.--Cultivation
  of Classical Literature at the close of the Fourteenth and
  commencement of the Fifteenth Century.                              35

  CHAPTER III.--John Gutenberg.--First attempts at
  Typography in Strasburg.--Difficulties.--Invention of
  the Press.--Lawsuit.--Return to Mentz.--Connection
  with Faust.--Success.--Mazarin Bible the first Book
  printed from Separable Metal Types.--Second
  Lawsuit.--Forfeiture of Plant to Faust.--Peter
  Schœffer.--Invention of Type-founding.--Faust and
  Schœffer.--The Gutenberg “Printing-house.”--Gutenberg
  attached to the Court of the Elector of Mentz.--His
  Death.                                                              68

  CHAPTER IV.--The claims of Coster and Haarlem considered,
  as opposed to those of Gutenberg and Mentz.--Claims
  based upon Tradition.--No Contemporary Authorities in
  their favor.--Abundance of such testimony in favor of
  Gutenberg and Mentz.--Probable Origin of
  Tradition.--Block-books.--Speculum Humanæ
  Salvationis.--Evidence of the Types: wood or metal;
  cut or cast?--Books “Jettez en molle.”--Age of the
  Paper.--Date of Costume.--Fraternity of Brethren and
  Clerks of the Common Life.                                         201

  CHAPTER V.--The works of Faust and Schœffer.--Legend
  of the Printer’s Devil.--Monuments in Germany to
  Gutenberg, Faust and Schœffer.--Separable Letters
  first invented in China.--Characteristics of Ancient
  Printed Books.--The “Composing-stick” and
  “Setting-rule.”--Early Bindings.                                   349


    I.--Account of the Origin of Printing, by J. F. Faust of
          Aschaffenberg                                              393

   II.------------------------------by Hadrian Junius                404

  III.--Dr. Van Der Linde’s Haarlem-Coster-Legend                    408

   IV.--Cut Wooden, _versus_ Cast Metal Types                        415

        ERRATA                                                       424


The germ of the present work was a Lecture delivered by the writer
before the Members of the Colombo Athenæum, on the 24th February 1853.
That Lecture was fully reported at the time in the _Colombo Observer_,
and a few copies were subsequently printed for private distribution.
These having been disposed of, the writer’s attention was directed
to the preparation of a more extended essay upon the subject. The
result of his labours is now submitted to the public. The work makes
no pretension to the character of an exhaustive treatise; it is, in
fact, but little more than a broad outline of the subject which it
ventures to describe; but it is hoped, that a fresh interest may have
been imparted to some of the topics touched upon, and that they will
be found placed in a light which, if not wholly new, is at any rate
somewhat clearer than that in which they have hitherto been exhibited.

                                                                W. S.

  _Colombo, Ceylon,
     April_ 29, 1871.

Early Typography.



Printing is the art of producing copies of engraved writings or designs,
by pressure, either upon the inked surfaces of characters raised in
relief, or on metal plates, the upper surfaces of which are polished,
and the sunk engravings charged with colour. The most important, if not
the oldest branch of this art, is that of ~TYPOGRAPHY~, or LETTER-PRESS
PRINTING. To this Art, as it was invented and perfected in Europe in the
Fifteenth century, the epithets DIVINE and NOBLE have not untruly been

It is Noble, not merely because it is one of those arts or professions,
the practice of which was permitted to the nobility of the German
Empire, but because it is the nurse and preserver of all other arts and
sciences; and is unquestionably the most important as well as the most
beneficial invention the world has ever seen. It is the disseminator
of every other discovery; the commemorator of all other inventions:
it hands down to posterity every important event; immortalizes the
actions of the great and good; and requires, moreover, in all who would
thoroughly excel in its practice, the highest attainable combination of
mental alacrity, educated intelligence, and expert manual dexterity.

It is Divine, inasmuch as it is one of the grand instruments in the
hands of Providence for the regeneration of fallen humanity. By it
the mightiest movement the world has ever seen since the days when
the Apostolic Twelve went about “turning it upside down,”--the Great
Reformation of the Sixteenth century,--was mainly effected. Without
it the Word of God could not have been diffused, as it has been, is
being, and will continue to be, to every nation and tribe and people
and tongue throughout the world: while but for it England and the
Anglo-Saxon race, who owe it so much for the stability and uniformity
it gave to their language,[1] would never have attained their present
proud pre-eminence amongst the nations of the earth.

Religion, Arts, Sciences, Commerce, and Civilization, have had the
greatest scope, and been most fully developed, wherever the Press has
been the least restricted. Its free action is as necessary to the
well being of a State, as the free action of the lungs is to the well
being of the human body. This is well illustrated in the history of
unhappy Poland, where the Liberty of the Press was first proclaimed in
the Sixteenth century. But the narrow-minded bigots who succeeded the
monarch who proclaimed it, beheld in it a portent foreboding evil to
themselves; and they not only speedily abrogated it, but followed up
that step with measures destructive of the most cherished privileges
of the Polish nation.[2] The result was fatal, as well to the country
as to the kings who misruled it. Corrupted, crushed, enslaved,--every
vent for the expression of patriotic feeling choked up,--and the voice
of the people stifled by the stern gripe of the strong hand of the
despot,--the doom went forth, and the record against her was written as
against Great Babylon of old,--“MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.” “God hath
numbered thy kingdom and finished it. Thou art weighed in the balances
and found wanting. Thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and

The Freedom of the Press is the birthright of the Anglo-Saxon
race,--the hard-won palladium of all other rights; and yet, while there
are few amongst that race who do not rightly appreciate the blessings
flowing therefrom, the great majority are ignorant of the origin or
the history of the Art, the privileges of which they so highly prize,
and over which, with watchful jealousy, they guard against every thing
that bears the semblance of encroachment. This ignorance is doubtless,
in the main, owing to the expensive nature and technical character
of many of the works in which such information has been published.
These works, forming of themselves a distinct class of literature,
are neither few in number, nor wanting in interest. Some of the more
important are indeed hardly procurable; and in the far East, where
works of the kind must be imported for individual use, writing upon
special subjects of European lore is beset with difficulties from
which authors in the mother country are happily relieved.[3] Acting
however, on the maxim of Lord Bacon, “that every man is a debtor
to his profession, from the which as men do, of course, seek to
receive countenance and profit, so ought they, of duty, to endeavour
themselves by way of amends to be a help thereunto,” I have spared no
pains in this endeavour; and am not without hope of imparting to my
readers some interesting particulars concerning the origin and history
of the Noble Art

  “That stamps, renews, and multiplies at will,
   And cheaply circulates through distant climes
   The fairest relics of the purest times,”--

thus creating “a moral atmosphere which is, as it were, the medium of
intellectual life, on the quality of which, according as it may be
salubrious or vicious, the health of the public mind depends.”[4]

       *       *       *       *       *

Printing from surfaces of wood, engraved in relief, is an art which
appears to have been known in China from time immemorial. Its origin
there is hidden in the obscurity of bye-gone ages: it may have
been practised by the Chinese from the very commencement of their
empire;[5] or the idea may have been derived at a later period
from blotting-paper impressions of writings, or from tracings or
rubbings of inscriptions, which travellers from ‘the flowery land’
may have taken, in foreign countries, on sheets of paper, such as
are known to have been manufactured in China from times of a very
remote antiquity, and which are to this day better adapted for such
purposes than any papers elsewhere made. Such rubbings, forming a
kind of papier-mâché castings,[6] would naturally suggest, not only
the idea of stereo-blocks, whereon writings in reversed characters
could be engraved in relief, but also the mode of printing, which,
to the present day, prevails throughout the Chinese empire. With the
fact before us, that the Chinese were, up to a certain period in
their history, far ahead of all other nations, not even excepting the
Egyptians, in the development of inventions which could only be the
product of an advanced state of civilization, it is not unreasonable to
conclude, (especially in the absence of positive information to help us
in our researches), that the art of printing from blocks originated in
China in the manner above stated. Whether such were the case or not, Du
Halde, in order to establish its great antiquity, cites the following
proverb, quoted by an old author as written by the Emperor Van Vong,
who flourished 1120 years before Christ--“As the stone Me (a word
signifying ink in the Chinese language) which is used to blacken the
engraved characters, can never become white, so a heart blackened with
vices, will always retain its blackness.” This quotation, however, not
being very conclusive on the subject, he fixes the invention at fifty
years before the Christian era.

Father Couplet, Klaproth, and others, ascribe it to a much later date.
“Under the reign of Mint-song,” writes Klaproth, “in the second of
the years Tchang-hing (932) the ministers Fong-tao and Li-yu proposed
to the Academy Koue-tseu-kien to review the nine king or canonical
books, and to have them engraved upon blocks of wood, that they might
be printed and sold. The emperor adopted the advice; but it was only
in the second of the years Kouan-chun (952) that the engraving of the
blocks was completed. They were then distributed and circulated in all
the cantons of the empire.”

But that the art was known and practised by the Chinese at a period
still more remote, we learn from the 39th volume of the Chinese
Encyclopædia, where we are informed, that on the eighth day of the
twelfth month of the thirteenth year of the reign of Wen-ti, founder
of the Souï dynasty (593) it was ordered by a decree to collect the
worn out drawings and inedited texts, and to engrave them on wood and
publish them. This fact is confirmed by various Chinese writings; and
this, continues the work quoted, was the commencement of printing upon
wooden blocks. Under the Thang dynasty, from 618 to 907, it grew much
into use; made still greater progress during the five lesser dynasties,
from 907 to 960; and reached its perfection and greatest development
between 960 and 1278. But as block-printing was only for the first time
imperially ordered in the year 593, it is very probable that the art
was known long before that date. Had it _then_ been a new invention,
something surely would have been said about its origin and author.

The following particulars relative to Chinese printing are given by Du

[Illustration: 西秦原本]

“The work intended to be printed is transcribed by a careful writer
upon thin transparent paper: the engraver glues each of these written
sheets, with its face downwards, upon a smooth tablet of pear or
apple tree, or some other hard wood; and then with gravers and other
instruments, he cuts the wood away in all those parts upon which he
finds nothing traced [as in the fac-simile[7] in the margin]; thus
leaving the reversed characters ready for printing.... When once the
blocks are engraved, the paper is cut, and the ink is ready, one man
with his brush can, without fatigue, print ten thousand sheets in a
day. The block to be printed must be placed level, and firmly fixed.
The man must have two brushes; one of them of a stiffer kind, which he
can hold in his hand, and use at either end. He dips this into the ink,
and rubs the block with it; taking care not to wet it too much, nor to
leave it too dry.... The second brush is used to rub over the paper
with a small degree of pressure, that it may take the impression: this
it does easily, for not being sized with alum, it receives the ink the
instant it comes in contact with it. It is only necessary that the
brush should be passed over every part of the sheet with a greater or
smaller degree of pressure, and repeated in proportion as the printer
finds there is more or less ink upon the block.”

The number of copies which, according to Du Halde, a Chinese workman
can print in a day, is greatly exaggerated. About four thousand, or
four hundred an hour, is the utmost that the most expert workman would
be able to throw off.

To the above account it may be added, that the blocks, each containing
two pages, are frequently engraved on both sides; that the sheets
printed are small, and impressed on one side only; and that each sheet
when dry is folded back, so as to present the appearance of a leaf
impressed on both sides.

The history of printing in China, and the productions of the Chinese
press, are subjects which Oriental bibliographers have more or less
touched upon. Interesting as they are, there will probably be no
occasion to allude to them in these pages more than once again.

But the history of books in Europe, the productions of the early
printers in the various countries to which they carried their art,
is one to which our subject is most closely allied; and European
bibliography is a study to which many men of great ability have
devoted themselves during the last three centuries, in Germany,
Holland, England, Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, and other countries.
To their labours all later writers on the subject are under manifold
obligations.[8] But 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 comparatively
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,[9] the Hague _Catalogus_[10] and _Monumens Typographiques_[11]
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
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.”[12]

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:[13]--“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
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[14] and Mr. Humphreys,[15] in their last published works, I
am greatly indebted. The interesting information they have accumulated
I have freely made use of in the preparation of this volume, although I
differ considerably from some of the conclusions which one or other of
them has arrived at.


[1] “The multiplication of printed books and the consequent still
greater multiplication of readers, created, what may be termed a
literary public throughout England, and when the printed copies of
a book from Caxton’s press were spread throughout this public, each
member of it used a copy that was uniform with the copies used by
all the rest. But before printing was known, and while copies of a
book could be made in manuscript only, the transcribers were apt to
introduce changes of spelling, of syntax, and of phrase, according to
the dialect of the part of the country to which each copyist belonged.
And the dialects of different parts of England differed then from each
other in a far greater degree than any amount of variation which can
at present be detected by the most zealous philologist. Moreover, each
author wrote in his own dialect, or to speak more correctly, in the
pure native English of his own part of England. Hence the diction of
an author of those times in many cases appears to us more archaic than
the diction of his contemporaries, or even of some of his predecessors.
But in proportion as men of letters became familiar in their reading
with the nearly uniform English language of printed books, they
followed or approached that uniform English in their own writings.
The language continued to receive changes by the introduction of new
words and phrases, and by the zeal for imitating Latin models, which
grew to excess in many of our prose writers not long after the close
of the Fifteenth century. Many more modifications of etymology, and
some of syntax, took place before the modern English language can be
said to have been substantially established throughout the country; but
that amount of uniform establishment never could have been effected
at all, without the intervention and the extended use of the art of
printing.”--Sir Edward S. CREASY’s _History of England_. 8vo. 1870.
vol. ii. pp. 556-7.

What the Art of Printing did in this respect for England, it likewise
did in all other countries to which it was carried, in greater or
lesser degrees, according to the amount of freedom it enjoyed, or
of restriction to which it, and the people to whom it spoke, were

[2] _Vide_ Reformation of Poland, by Count V. KRASINSKI, 2 vols. 8vo.
_Nisbet_, 1838-40.

[3] For assistance in this matter, I am much indebted to my father, Mr.
ROBERT SKEEN, under whose able teachings I was thoroughly instructed
in, and made a master of my craft--the Art of Printing. I have also
to acknowledge, with thanks, the material aid received from Mr. H.
W. CASLON, the eminent Type-founder, as well as from my publishers,
Messrs. TRÜBNER and Co., of Paternoster Row.

[4] SOUTHEY’S “Colloquies.”

[5] A reference can scarcely be avoided, in connection with this
subject, to the exclamation of the patriarch Job (ch. xix. 23, 24),
“Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a
book! That they were graven with an iron pen, and lead, in the rock for
ever!” The book of Job is commonly supposed to have been written either
by Moses, when residing amongst the Midianites about 1520 years before
the commencement of the Christian era, or by Elihu, one of the speakers
in the book, which would probably carry its antiquity a century and a
half or two centuries further back. The word translated ‘printed’ does
not, however, bear the meaning in the original, which is now generally
attached to it. It evidently refers to the method of inscribing records
on rolls, made of the skins of animals, for the purpose of preserving
them for the benefit of future generations, or on such other substances
as were then used for that purpose; and in the texts quoted the modes
of writing and the instruments for inscribing are expressly referred
to. Plates of metal, and prepared leaves of the talipot palm, are to
this day engraved and inscribed on, in Eastern countries, with iron
‘styles,’ for purposes of record. Books of the laws of Buddha exist on
plates of gold, as well as on the more common olas; and although we
do not know upon what material MOSES transcribed the Law, which GOD
himself commanded him to write, and to place in the side of the Ark of
the Covenant, we may be certain that it would be written on the most
imperishable, as well as the most portable of substances adapted for
such a purpose, Moses being learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians,
and having for his assistants the most skilful artisans of the age.
The Ten Commandments we know were graven on tablets of stone hewn out
of the rock. From tablets such as these, and from engraved plates, as
well as from inscribed olas, copies and fac-similes might have been
easily made by a process analogous to that of copper-plate printing;
the only drawback being that in all such copies the printed characters
would have been reversed. That the Hebrews must have been familiar
with books, such as were referred to by Job, is clear. In Egypt,
during the time of their residence in that country, Public Libraries
existed:--“Over the mouldering door which led to the bibliothetical
repository of the Memnonium, said to have been built about the time
of Moses, Champollion read, written over the heads of Thoth and
Safkh, (who were the male and female deities of arts, sciences, and
literature), the remarkably appropriate titles of ‘President of the
Library,’ and ‘Lady of Letters.’” (Kitto’s _Cycl. of Bibl. Literature_,
Art. WRITING). The Egyptians probably derived their knowledge of
writing from Misraim the son of Ham, as did the Canaanites from Canaan
the brother of Misraim, from whom they were descended. There is proof
in the sculptured pictures and inscriptions in the oldest Egyptian
monuments, of about the same age as the Great Pyramid, that 2200 years
B. C., writing was an art well known at that early period. “Whatever
the employment, or whatever the produce being brought to be laid at
the prince’s feet, there were always scribes in attendance to take
down the exact amount in writing on the property rolls.” (Vide _Life
and Work at the Great Pyramid in 1865_, by C. PIAZZI SMYTH, Astronomer
Royal, Scotland; and article in _Good Words_, Part VII, 1867, by the
same author, p. 453.) When the Israelites took possession of the land
of Canaan, among other great and walled cities which they captured was
Debir, whose original name was Kirjath-sepher, or the City of Books,
or Kirjath-sannah, the City of Letters, (Joshua xv. 49; Judges i. 11).
This word “sannah” is evidently the same as “sannas,” the name given to
oblong copper-plates, on which are engraved the record of the grants
of lands, &c., made from very ancient times by the kings of Ceylon, to
temples, chiefs, and others; and which are frequently, under that name,
received in evidence in the law courts in disputes regarding landed
property. They are, in fact, the title-deeds under which most of the
Sin̥halese gentry of ancient family hold their estates. These royal
grants are sometimes on plates of silver, and occasionally cut in the
solid rock or on massive stone tablets.

[6] Plaster casts of inscriptions might also have suggested the same
idea. The use of plaster, for the purposes of inscriptions, dates back
to a very ancient era. It seems to have been as old as the art of
writing itself. We learn from the book of Deuteronomy (xxvii. 2-4),
that while the Children of Israel were yet wandering in the desert,
after their exodus from Egypt, it was ordained, that when they had
passed into Canaan,--the land which should be given them,--great
stones, plaistered over with plaister, should be set up, on which
stones should be written “very plainly” all the words of the law.

[7] “Sy-chong-n̥gén-pon,” the name of a Chinese Song-book.

[8] The following alphabetical list includes the most distinguished of
these writers:--Andrès, Antonio, Baillet, Bayle, Blount, Bouterwek,
Brucker, Brunet, Buhle, Chalmers, Collier, Corniani, De Bure, De Vries,
Dibdin, Ebert, Eichhorn, Falkenstein, Fischer, Foppens, Frere, Gesner,
Ginguéné, Goujet, Graesse, Greswell, Hallam, Hain, Heeren, 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
Praet, Watt, Wolf, Würdtwein, Zapf.

[9] The Life and Typography of William Caxton, by WILLIAM BLADES. 2
vols. 4to. with 57 fac-simile illustrations. _London_, 1861-63.

[10] Catalogus Librorum Sæc. XVI. impressorum, in Bibliotheca Regia
Haganâ asservatorum, 8vo. _Hagae_, 1856.

[11] Monumens Typographiques des Pays Bas au XVe Siècle, 20
livraisons, imp. 4to. 120 plates of fac-similes. _La Haye_, 1857-66. Of
this magnificent work only 200 copies were printed.

[12] Classified Index of Fifteenth Century Books in the Collection of
the late M. J. de Meyer of Ghent. 8vo. _London_, 1870. pp. 15-16.

[13] TRÜBNER’S American and Oriental Literary Record, July, 1870.

[14] Inquiry concerning the Invention of Printing, by W. Y. OTTLEY.
4to. 37 plates, and other engravings. _London_, 1863.

[15] 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 fac-similes. _London_, 1869.

Early Typography.



It has been a question much debated, whether the Art of Printing was
not introduced to Europe from the East at a much earlier period than
that generally assigned as the date of its invention; and we are
informed by Klaproth, that it might have been known in Europe a hundred
and fifty years prior to its discovery by the Germans, if Europeans had
been able to read and translate the Persian historians, as the Chinese
method of printing is clearly explained in the _Djemm’a-et-tewarikh_,
by Rachid-Eddin, who finished this immense work about the year 1310.

On this subject, Mr. William Savage, a well-known printer, and a
gentleman to whom the public and the profession are indebted for
several valuable works on the art, states, in the preface to a volume
published in 1841,--“The dates given of the introduction of the
practice into Europe by previous writers, are unquestionably erroneous,
as we have conclusive evidence of its being followed as a profession
for nearly a century before the earliest date they give:”--and he
announced his intention of embodying the facts and information he had
been for a long period collecting, in another work, as hitherto, he
declares, there has in reality been but little said on the History or
Practice of Printing, the numerous works on the subject being chiefly
copies from one or two of the earlier writers. This is true enough.
From the very nature of the case it can scarcely be otherwise, until
and unless the discovery of fresh facts, or the investigations of fresh
inquirers lead to conclusions different to those which had previously
been generally received.

It is possible, nay probable, that a knowledge of the art, as practised
in China, may have been carried to Europe by the Venetian travellers,
or traders, at a very early date; but, as no account is known to exist
that such really was the case, so no certain conclusion on the subject
can be arrived at. Whether it was so or not, there is little difficulty
in supposing that on many occasions attempts might be made similar to
that contained in the much disputed account given by Papillon of the
discovery at Bagneux, a village near Mont-Rouge, in the library of
M. De Greder, a Swiss Captain, of a work, lent to M. De Greder by M.
Sperchtvel, another Swiss Officer, supposed to have been printed in
1284 or 1285. This work, which has never since been seen, is said to
have borne the following inscription in old Italian.

“The heroic actions, represented in figures, of the great and
magnanimous Macedonian king, the bold and valiant Alexander; dedicated,
presented, and humbly offered to the most holy Father, Pope Honorius
IV, the glory and support of the Church, and to our illustrious
and generous father and mother, by us Allessandro-Alberico Cunio,
Cavaliere, and Isabella Cunio, twin brother and sister: first reduced,
imagined, and attempted to be executed in relief with a small knife
on blocks of wood made even and polished by this learned and dear
sister, continued and finished by us together, at Ravenna, from the
eight pictures of our invention, painted six times larger than here
represented; engraved, explained by verses, and thus marked upon the
paper to perpetuate the number of them, and to enable us to present
them to our relations and 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.

[Illustration: [Copy of an Inscription on the first leaf of the
“Speculum Humanæ Salvationis.”]]

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,[16] 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 Zwolle[17] in Holland) between
the years 1420 and 1435; and the _Speculum Humanæ Salvationis_,[18] 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 are more copious explanatory inscriptions
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 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.[19] 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 been bought by the Duke of Marlborough, after a keen
competition at an auction sale in 1813, for the almost fabulous sum of

It was from these early Block-books, or Donatuses, that Gutenberg, as
we learn from the statement of Ulric Zell,--a contemporary, and working
printer at Mentz with the original inventors while the art was yet
a secret,--derived his idea of printing as at present practised. In
the words of Mr. Charles Knight, in his interesting biography of the
venerable Caxton, the Father of the Art in England,--“To seize upon the
idea, that the text or legend might be composed of separate letters,
capable of re-arrangement after the impressions were taken off, so as
to be applied without new cutting to other texts and legends, was to
secure the principle upon which the printing art depended. It was easy
to extend the principle from a few lines to a whole page, and from one
page to many, so as to form a book.”

Such, according to the almost universally adopted belief, were the
successive steps which led to the invention of ~TYPOGRAPHY~. And for
nearly a century no one had ventured to doubt that either images of
saints, or characters for playing cards, were first printed from
engraved wooden blocks, as cheap substitutes for the works of the
draftsman and painter;--that these were succeeded by subjects of sacred
history with explanatory legends cut in wood, imitative of the art of
the illuminator, and the caligraphy of the scribes or professional
writers;--that these again were followed by Donatuses;--and that from
these Donatuses, printed from solid blocks, Gutenberg obtained his
first idea of the Typographic Art.

But in 1868 an altogether new hypothesis was propounded at the annual
congress of the British Archæological Association, held that year at
Cirencester. It was there maintained, in a paper read by Mr. Henry
F. Holt, that printing from moveable types, as practised in Europe,
preceded in point of time that of printing from engravings on wood.
After a careful inspection of the celebrated print of St. Christopher,
in Earl Spencer’s library at Althorp, he contended,--“that the date
1423 is not that of the engraving, but of the legend beneath it, which
had been copied by the engraver, and has reference to the jubilee
year of the Saint; that it has been printed by a press, and with
printer’s ink; and, what is more important, upon paper which exhibits
the well-known water-mark of the bull or heifer’s head, with a flower
issuant between the horns, which was used by Faust, and supposed
to have been made for him.[20] He has shewn, that the discovery of
this supposed early engraving instigated the fabrication of several
similar, which were stained with coffee to give them the appearance
of age. He further maintains, that the block-books,--originally, in
his opinion, produced by the celebrated painter and engraver Albrecht
Durer,--were cheap substitutes for the highly-priced productions of the
Printing press.” And he challenges literature “to prove, that a copy
of the block-book known as the ‘Biblia Pauperum,’ was actually in any
known library, public or private, prior to 1485, or known then to be
in existence.”[21] “All this has,” as Mr. Planché observes, “naturally
aroused a host of antagonists, who have more or less courteously
contradicted, without convincing Mr. Holt, by the production of any
incontrovertible fact, which would refute the evidence he adduces in
support of his arguments. Alone and undismayed, he still gallantly
defies all comers.”

Guided by the test of costume,--“a test which he has never known
applied in vain, when called to the assistance of the critical
inquirer,”--Mr. Planché, while abstaining from the expression of an
opinion upon the principal point in dispute, shews, as a matter of fact
in regard to playing cards, that “with the exception of those by the
Master of 1466 [an engraver only known by that designation], and a set
of “tarots,” called the Mantegna Cards,[22] on one of which is the date
1483, all the specimens of printed playing cards that he has met with
display the unmistakeable character of the fashions of Germany, France,
and England, during the latter half of the Fifteenth century, and the
greatest portion those of the very latest part,--Louis XI, Charles
VIII, of France; Edward IV, and Henry VII, of England; and Maximilian
I, Emperor of Germany.”[23]

So far, then, the evidence of the playing cards seems to support the
hypothesis of Mr. Holt.

[Illustration: [The Knave of Bells, 1390.]]

Most of the early prints are certainly of an extremely rude type,
consisting chiefly of mere outlines of figures; in the one case of
saints, copied from the illuminated Missals, and in the other, of
characters for playing cards similar to the foregoing fac-simile,
afterwards coloured in imitation of paintings. Very probably they may
have been made, in the first instance, by means of stencil plates;
if not, the impressions were obtained from the engraved blocks by
friction, after the Chinese manner. Whichever was the method adopted,
the ‘Brief-malers’ or card painters of Germany seem to have run their
Italian brethren hard in the race of competition in the first half of
the Fifteenth century, as we learn from a decree of the Government of
Venice, bearing date the 11th October 1441; which, after stating that
the art and mystery of making cards and printed figures had fallen
into decay, from the numbers printed out of Venice, ordains--“That it
be ordered and established, according to that which certain masters
had supplicated, that from this time in future no work of the said art
that is printed or painted[24] on cloth or on paper, that is to say,
altar pieces, images, and playing cards, and whatever other work of the
said art is done with a brush and printed,[25] shall be allowed to be
brought or imported into this city under pain of forfeiting the works
so imported, and xxx livres and xii soldi,[26] of which fine one-third
shall go to the state, one-third to Signor Giustizieri Vecchi, to whom
the affair is committed, and one-third to the accuser.” The worthy
magistrates of Venice were excellent Protectionists in their day and
generation; but this antique method of printing, either from engraved
wooden blocks, or with stencilling plates and brushes, had soon to
give way to the newer art of Typography; and twenty-eight years after
the promulgation of this decree we find printed works issuing from the
press of John and Vandeline of Spire, established in Venice in the year

It is a moot point among antiquarians when playing cards were first
printed. The commonly received opinion of their invention in 1392 for
the amusement of the insane King, Charles VI of France, is decidedly
erroneous.[27] On this subject Mr. Planché writes,--“There is plenty
of evidence to prove that cards, drawn, painted, and gilded by the
hand, like those of Jacquemin-Gringonneur, and to which the name of
‘Tarot cards’ has been given, found their way into Europe from the East
in the Fourteenth century, or perhaps earlier; but they had nothing
in common with those to which we are accustomed, although they might
have suggested them, and the fact in no wise affects the question of
printing by means of wood-blocks only.”[28]

That this art--the art of printing by pressure to obtain copies,
in ink, from separable types or letters--had not been attempted to
be carried into effect at a much earlier period than the time when
Gutenberg made his first essay at Strasburg, about the year 1435, has
been a subject of wonderment with certain writers. But the truth is,
that prior to that period the world was not ripe for the invention,
neither had the time arrived for the development of those grand designs
of Providence, in the effecting of which the Press and Printing were
destined to be mainly instrumental. Otherwise, it is inconceivable
how for ages previous, while the germ of the art, as ultimately
perfected, was in common use among men,--in seals and signets;[29] in
stamped records on bricks and tablets of clay in Babylon; in chiselled
inscriptions on rocks and pillars in India; and in irons with letters
cut in relief upon them for branding cattle with their owners’ names,
(known among the Romans in the days of Virgil);--no one discovered the
way to this method of multiplying documents for general distribution,
or for the promulgation of edicts through the length and breadth of the
ruling empires of the world.

It may be well, therefore, before entering upon the History of
PRINTING, popularly so called, to take a rapid glance at the state
of Europe, both as regards Religion and Literature, in the ages
immediately preceding that at which we have now arrived.

From the Sixth to the Fifteenth century the Western world may be
said to have been covered with moral darkness. On the fall of the
Roman Empire, ignorance, barbarism, and superstition spread in
dense and heavy clouds over the nations of the West. Learning so
rapidly declined, that it was almost wholly lost; and the light of
Religion,--that light “which lighteth every man that cometh into the
world,”--appeared well nigh entirely quenched. Here and there, however,
in different countries and in successive ages, a ray of light shot
forth; Schools and Universities were established, and a few bright
names shine out like stars amid the thick darkness which surrounded
them. The number of these was somewhat increased towards the Tenth
century. About this time Paper made from cotton or linen rags began to
come into use. The importance of this invention must at once have been
felt, and by decreasing the expense of manuscripts,--hitherto written
on parchments, or the perishable papyrus,--have greatly enlarged the
demand for such documents. This enlarged demand induced more to follow
the occupation of Scribes, or Caligraphers. In the Eleventh century the
Benedictine Monks exercised themselves in copying manuscripts; and to
their industry we owe almost all we possess of Classic Latin Literature
at the present day. The light of learning in this century shone
brightest in France and England; in Italy but faintly, while in Germany
its glimmerings were scarcely perceptible. In the Twelfth century a
slight improvement may be traced; John of Salisbury and William of
Malmesbury being distinguished writers in this age. In the Thirteenth
however, darkness prevailed again; and few, if any, were capable of
appreciating the master-mind of Roger Bacon, who shone like a beacon
in the realms of literature and science, but who was looked upon by
his mole-eyed contemporaries as a magician whose lore was derived
from unholy sources. The Church grew more and more corrupt. Ignorance
and fanaticism every where abounded; and true Religion was scarcely
to be discerned amid the prevailing superstitions of the age. It was
in the moral world as in the physical: the darkest hour is that which
precedes the dawn. Darkness at this period covered the earth and gross
darkness the people. The mind of man had become, as it were, without
form and void; and in that state, humanly speaking, it was long likely
to remain. But such was not the will of GOD. As in the creation of the
world, GOD said, Let there be Light, and Light was; so now the command
went forth--“Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of
the Lord is risen upon thee.” And the light of truth burst forth; not
indeed at first with noontide splendour; but there came from the East
a dawn, and a day-spring thence arose, which announced the coming of
that light which will only cease to shine when time shall be no more.

The Fourteenth century was to that which followed it like the morning
star that ushers in the dawn. The love of learning revived; and
polite letters were restored in the person of Petrarch. Universities
were established in Rome and Fermo, in Perugia, Treviso and Pisa, in
Pavia and Florence, in Sienna, Lucca and Ferrara. In England, Richard
Aungerville, Bishop of Durham and Chancellor of Edward III, but better
known to fame as Richard of Bury, gave his library to the University of
Oxford, with special injunctions that his valuable manuscripts should
be lent out to scholars.[30] These, and like agencies elsewhere at
work, paved the way for the era then about to commence.

As the dangers which menaced the Eastern Empire at the close of the
Fourteenth century increased, the most learned of the Greeks fled to
the West, carrying with them the treasures of their language. Amongst
the first of these was Emanuel Chrysoloras, who settled in Florence
in 1395 as public teacher in Greek. He had been previously known as
an Ambassador from Constantinople to the Western powers, his mission
being to solicit aid against the Turks. From Florence he proceeded to
various Italian Universities, and became the preceptor of several early
Hellenists. In 1423, 238 manuscripts of Greek authors were brought
into Italy by John Aurispa of Sicily, who thus put his country in
possession of authors hardly known to her by name. By means of these,
and the labours of Philelfo and other collectors, an ardent thirst
for Classical and especially Grecian Literature began to make itself
manifest, which about the year 1440 was completely developed.

The kings of France and the Dukes of Burgundy were at this period the
most munificent patrons of learning and literature. The fashion they
set was followed by their chief nobles, and many celebrated libraries
were formed in their dominions. The Library of the Louvre was founded
by King John of France in 1350. His third son, Jean, Duc de Berri,
formed one at his Chateau de Bicêtre, near Paris, only inferior to
that of his father. Philippe le Hardi, the youngest son, who became
Duke of Burgundy, was also addicted to the collection of fine books,
“and spared no expense in the employment of artists to adorn his
library, and in the purchase of their most choice productions.” His
son, Jean sans Peur, inherited his father’s tastes and added to the
collections already made. “But all previous patronage sinks into
comparative insignificance before the encouragement given to everything
connected with literature by Philippe le Bon, who succeeded Jean in
1419. At Bruges where he kept his Court, he gave continual employment
to multitudes of authors, translators, copyists, and painters, who
were constantly enriching his library with their best productions.”
In an account of the Duke’s library, nearly two thousand works
are enumerated, “the greater part being magnificent vellum folios
beautifully illuminated, bound in velvet, satin, or damask, studded
with gems, and protected by gold clasps jewelled and chased.” “The
passion for books thus displayed was not confined to France or the
French princes. In Italy, Germany, England, and other countries, the
same taste spread. In England Henry VI had a valuable library; many
books written and illuminated for him being still among the royal MSS.
in the British Museum. The Duke of Bedford, whose love of literature
was probably greatly stimulated while Regent of France, was surpassed
by none of his countrymen in his patronage of the Fine Arts; and the
celebrated Missal executed for him still remains as one of the choicest
productions of his age. Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the Protector of
Henry VI, was also greatly attached to his library, and bequeathed many
hundreds of volumes to the University of Oxford, and to King’s College,

“Owing to these causes the various Artists connected with book-writing
and book-binding, as well as the trades necessary to them, received
great encouragement, while to ensure speed as well as excellence of
workmanship, division of labour was carried out to a great extent.
Indeed, so important a branch of commerce had the manufacture of books
now become, and so numerous were the various classes of craftsmen
employed in this way at Bruges, that there sprang up in that city a
Guild,--‘The Guild of St. John the Evangelist,’ the patron Saint of
Scribes,--which in 1454 had a formal charter and privileges granted
it by the Duke.” Other cities also had similar corporations. Thus, at
Antwerp the Society of St. Luke was formed in 1450, and at Brussels
there was a guild of Writers called ‘Les Frères de la plume.’ The
Guild of St. John the Evangelist contained members of both sexes, and
consisted of Book-binders, Book-sellers, Boss-carvers, Cloth-shearers,
Curriers, Figure-engravers, Illuminators, Letter-engravers, Painters,
Painters of Vignettes, Parchment and Vellum-makers, Printers,
Print-sellers, School-masters, School-mistresses, and Scriveners and
copyers of books.[31]

Coincident with this development of a thirst for classical learning,
and a passion for literature amongst the great and wealthy, was the
invention of Printing in the Western world.


[16] 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.”

[17] 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 earliest of the block-books
was produced. This opinion has additional importance attached to it,
from the fact that Zwolle was, in the early part of the Fifteenth
century, celebrated as a seat of learning. “Thomas à Kempis, according
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.

[18] Some writers consider that the whole of the text of what are
considered the first and last editions, and a large 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 block-printing, 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 book-printing,
is thus an important element in the consideration of questions relating
to the origin of Typography.

[19] About £1000, or £1200, of current English money.

[20] Paper with the same water-mark was also used by the First Printer
in England. _Vide_ Plate IX in vol. ii. of _The Life and Typography of
William Caxton_.

[21] Letter in _Builder_, Nov. 26, 1870.

[22] So called after Andrea Mantegna, a celebrated Italian painter and
engraver, born in Padua 1431, died 1505. Cards designed and coloured by
this artist are very highly prized.

[23] _Builder_, Nov. 19, 1870.

[24] “The word which has been translated _printed_ is ‘stampide’
(‘Carte e figure depinte e stampide’), and the question arises as to
the meaning of that word in 1441. ‘Stampide,’ according to Florio,
signifies ‘to print, to presse, to stampe, to form, to figure;’ and
‘stampe’ in like manner, besides a print or impression, is said to be
‘a marke, a shape, a figure.’ The word existed before printing, in its
modern sense, had been heard of, and the natural application of it
to the new art, does not in the least determine the question of when
that art was invented. ‘Stampide’ in 1441, might simply mean formed,
figured, or shaped, by the means of the stencil, a process which we
know was adopted at that period, and which being much more rapid than
drawing and coloring by hand, would doubtless affect very seriously the
art of the card illuminator, similarly as photography, at the present
day, has the art of the miniature painter.”--J. R. PLANCHÉ. _Builder_,
Nov. 19, 1870.

[25] This phrase seems specially to refer to the method of stencilling.

[26] Equivalent to about £5 15_s._ sterling.

[27] St. Louis of France, after his return from the Crusade,
[A. D. 1254], interdicted the use of all playing cards throughout
his dominions. They were also forbidden by the Council of Cologne
in the year 1281. These prohibitions most probably arose from their
being used for purposes of fortune-telling.

[28] Gringonneur was paid for the cards drawn and painted for Charles
VI in 1392, fifty-six sous of Paris, which is calculated to be about
£7 1_s._ 8_d._ of our present money, and a single pack of “tarots,”
admirably painted about 1415 by Marziano, Secretary to the Duke of
Milan, cost the enormous sum of 1,500 golden crowns (about £625); but
in 1454 a pack of cards intended for the Dauphin of France, cost only
five sous of Tours, about 11_s._ or 12_s._--_The Arts in the Middle
Ages_, by M. Paul LACROIX.

[29] Several ancient specimens of Greek and Roman signets are still
extant. The most remarkable of these is a brass sigillum of C. J.
Cæcilius Hermias, in the Duke of Richmond’s collection. It was found
near Rome, and is supposed to belong to the Fourth century. The
characters are _reversed_, engraved in relief, the back metal being cut
away to a considerable depth and left in a rough state. The inscription
is surrounded with a border, as shewn below.

  | C I CAECILI  |
  | HERMIAE. SN. |

The size of the signet is two inches long by one inch wide. At the
back is a ring. If used for printing, its application was no doubt the
same as that of the blocks used by the _Paper Stainers_ of the present
day. Coloured pigments would be applied to the face of the letters,
and the signet would then be stamped on whatever substance was to be
marked. It might, in this way, have been used for stamping on the
covers of letters or parcels, to mark the name of the party from whom
they were sent, in the same way as engraved fac-simile signatures are
officially used for franking such documents through the post at the
present day. It may, however, have been the receipt stamp of a man in
trade; or a trade-mark, used, for instance, to stamp the wares while in
a semi-plastic state, of a baker or brick-maker.

After the above was in type, the writer was informed by Dr. J. D. M.
Coghill, Superintendent of the Convict Establishment at Wẹlikaḍa,
near Colombo, that the probability of the first of the purposes
to which the signet is supposed to have been applied, was much
strengthened by the somewhat similar practice, though not for an
exactly similar object, which prevails in parts of China, in the
use of _chops_,--“house-signs,”--by professional men, traders, &c.
These chops are small blocks of box or other hard wood, on the upper
surfaces of which the name and profession of an individual or firm
are cut by itinerant engravers, at the rate of thirty for a Mexican
dollar. To meet the requirements of business and to facilitate
intercourse between Europeans and native Chinese, each foreign house,
or firm, or professional man, furnishes all those with whom he or they
have transactions, with his ‘chop,’ on the sides of which his name
and address are also written in Roman characters. Whatever letter,
document, packet or parcel is thenceforth sent to him or them, besides
the address written with ordinary ink and in Roman characters, a
red ink impression of the chop is stamped on the envelope or cover.
This any native can read, and the addressee is without difficulty
found. To this information Dr. Coghill kindly added the gift of the
accompanying original chop, which belonged to his brother, Dr. Sinclair
Coghill, when practising as a physician with his partner, Dr. Bell,
in Shanghai. The characters represent the words ‘Peh-i-sang,’ the
nearest equivalent the Shanghai dialect of the Chinese language gives
to ‘Bell, Physician.’ It is a small block, an inch and a quarter long,
three-eighths of an inch broad, and was one inch and three-eighths
high. It has, however, been reduced to an inch in height to suit the
size of the type and allow of its being herewith printed.

[Illustration: 栢醫生]

[30] For, says the Bishop in his ‘Philobiblon,’ “Books are masters who
instruct us without rods, without hard words and anger, without clothes
and money. If you approach them they are not asleep; if investigating
you interrogate them, they conceal nothing; if you mistake them they
never grumble; if you are ignorant they cannot laugh at you.”

[31] _Vide_ vol. i. of _The Life and Typography of William Caxton_,
from the second chapter of which the two preceding paragraphs have been

Early Typography.



Until the publication in the Hague of Meerman’s _Origines Typographicæ_
(1765),--a work based upon the traditions inserted in Hadrian Junius’s
_Batavia_, first published in 1588,--the man to whom the whole of
Europe, with hardly a dissentient voice, ascribed the honor of the
invention of the Art of Typography, was John Gutenberg.[32] a native
of Mentz. He was of honorable descent; his family being included among
the junckers and nobility, the equestrian order of the country, and
possessing a small estate situated in the neighbourhood of Mentz,
called Sulgeloch, on which estate he was born, about the year 1399.
His father, Frielo, had besides him, an elder son, Conrad, who died
some time previous to the year 1424, and Frielo, a younger, who was
living in 1459; and two daughters, Bertha and Hebele, both of whom
became nuns in the Convent of St. Clair at Mentz. In addition to the
above-mentioned estate, the family owned two houses in the city of
Mentz, one of which was called ‘Zum Gansfleisch,’ and the other ‘Zum
Gutenberg.’ The latter of these formed part of the property of his
mother, Elsy of Gutenberg. John Gutenberg, junior,[33] left Mentz
in early life for Strasburg, where he settled and obtained rights
of citizenship, and established himself in business as a polisher
of precious stones, and a mirror and looking-glass manufacturer, in
both which arts he is said to have shewn considerable skill. The
precise date of his arrival and settlement in Strasburg has not been
ascertained, but that it was prior to 1424 is known from a letter
written to his sister Bertha, on the 24th March of that year;[34]
probably it was about the year 1420, and may have been occasioned by
the political disturbances of the time. His name frequently appears in
the city documents and registers, and he occasionally visited Mentz. He
left Strasburg finally about the year 1444. Of great natural sagacity,
gifted with an inventive genius, and of indomitable perseverance, the
increasing thirst for knowledge which at this period was every where
manifesting itself, arrested his attention, and convinced him of the
desirability, as well as the profitableness, of devising some method
for its more ready and abundant supply.

The problem of the mechanical multiplication of manuscripts had already
been partially solved in the block-books which were manufactured
in Holland. In the study of these, Gutenberg perceived the immense
advantages which would follow from having every letter made separate,
with sufficient quantities of each to allow of their being combined
into words, sentences, and pages, instead of continuously engraving
whole series of lines in solid blocks as in the specimens before him.
That idea once clearly seen, time and patience, with the ability to
engrave, were all that were required for its realization, so far at
least as concerned the mere making of the types or letters. The first
experiments would naturally be, as indeed we are informed they were, on
wood. And one can well imagine the flush of triumph that mantled on
his brow, when, after having engraved a few continuous sentences, or
sets of alphabets, with spaces between each line and letter; and after
having sawn each line asunder, and separated each letter from the one
adjoining, and trimmed and squared the whole to his mind, Gutenberg
recomposed the letters into words, and other words, which differed from
the original, and saw his cherished thought worked out complete before

But, while thus on the very threshold of success, obstacles and
difficulties began to present themselves, which taxed his ingenuity
and tried his perseverance to an extent which it was scarcely possible
for him to have foreseen. In the first place, whatever plan he may
have adopted to produce impressions in his earliest experiments, he
could not fail to find out in a very short time that the Chinese
method, adopted by the block-book printers, would not answer for his
separable types; and moreover, that the fine strokes and edges of his
wooden letters were liable to damage and destruction from other causes
besides those arising from the amount of pressure it was necessary to
subject them to in order to ensure a clear readable impression. It was
necessary therefore to resort to metal. This was, in itself, a serious
matter to begin with, for engraving on metal is a much more difficult,
tedious, and expensive process, than engraving on wood. With separable
types, and direct perpendicular pressure to produce impressions, a
different kind of ink or pigment to that hitherto used by scribes, or
stencillers, or block-book printers, also became necessary, as well as
a different method of applying it to the face of the types; and many an
experiment must have been made, and much time and money lost, before
these difficulties were overcome, and success attained in these as in
the preceding step.[35]

The chief difficulty--the greatest obstacle in the way of putting
to a practical use the Types as now designed, and thus bringing the
TYPOGRAPHIC ART before the world,--was the want of the LETTER Press.
To overcome this obstacle, to conquer this difficulty, was Gutenberg’s
great task. There was, in point of fact, no particular ingenuity or
inventive faculty required in making separable letters. The keen
perception which saw the advantages to be gained from such separation,
was, no doubt, a sure indication that Gutenberg was a man of mark,--one
whose mental gifts transcended those ordinarily possessed by his
fellow-men. But the realization of the idea of separating the letters
was a task which mainly depended on the amount of manual and mechanical
dexterity brought to bear upon its execution. The higher efforts of
genius, and the development of the inventive faculties were displayed
in the subsequent steps, and in none more notably than in the invention
of the PRESS.

The question--Who invented the Printing Press?--has never yet, it is
believed, been thoroughly considered or satisfactorily answered. A
writer in the Encyclopædia Britannica says, “It is probable that one
of the difficulties which Gutenberg found insuperable at Strasburg was
the construction of a machine of sufficient power to take impressions
of the type or blocks then employed. Nor is it at all wonderful that
even the many years during which he resided at that city should have
been insufficient to produce the requisite means; for what with cutting
his type, forming his screws, inventing and compounding his ink, and
constructing the means for applying the ink when made, his time in the
Alsatian capital must have been fully occupied.” And he goes on to
argue that the Press was probably the joint production of Gutenberg,
Faust and Schœffer, during the time of their association in Mentz. But
for such a belief there is no real ground whatever.

Mr. Hansard, although he devotes 166 pages of his voluminous work[36]
to an account of Presses and Printing machines, strangely enough heads
his first chapter on the subject “Construction of the Original Printing
Press by Blaew of Amsterdam.” But Blaew lived two centuries after the
original invention, and was only an improver of certain of its parts.
Of the original inventor he says not a word.

Mr. M‘Creery, a contemporary of Hansard, in his poem the “PRESS,”[37]
reprinted in the _Typographia_, apostrophises Gutenberg and Mentz in
the following terms:--

  “SIRE of our ART, whose genius first design’d
   This great memorial of a daring mind,
   And taught the lever with unceasing play,
   To stop the waste of Time’s destructive sway!

         *       *       *       *       *

   O MENTZ! proud city, long thy fame enjoy,
   For with the PRESS thy glory ne’er shall die;
   Still may thy guardian battlements withstand
   The ruthless shock of War’s destructive hand,
   Where GUTENBERG with toil incessant wrought
   The imitative lines of written thought;
   And, as his Art a nobler effort made
   The sweeping lever his commands obeyed:”--

But although, _poetically_, Mr. M‘Creery thus ascribes the invention to
the man and place to whom it rightfully belongs, I do not know (not
having the original edition to refer to) whether he intended anything
more. I suspect not, since otherwise Mr. Hansard would scarcely
have failed to have made use of any information in the notes to the
poem which tended to throw light on a subject of so much historical

Other writers pass the subject by with the remark, that “Of the
mechanical construction of these presses there is little or no record.”
One of the latest authorities, Mr. Blades, the able palæotypographist,
thus dismisses it:--“The method of obtaining an impression by a direct
pressure downwards is generally supposed to have been synchronous with
the use of moveable types. Mr. Ottley, however, describes several of
the earliest wood blocks, which he had no doubt were printed by means
of a press. Of one he states ‘I am in possession of a specimen of
wood engraving, printed in black oil colour on both sides the paper
by a downright pressure, which I consider to have been, without
doubt, printed in or before the year 1445.’ There can be no question
therefore that the earliest type printers found a press ready to their
hands.”[38] But this is a very unconvincing method of reasoning; and
a positive conclusion founded upon a mere opinion given in regard to
the supposed age of an old engraving--a subject upon which the ablest
experts differ--is one which is open to very considerable question.

It has already been stated, (pp. 42-43) that before the invention of
the press, impressions were usually taken on one side only of the paper
or vellum; although the _possibility_ of their being taken on both
sides is admitted. Mr. Ottley says “the best proof that the printer
knew how to print on both sides of his paper, is that he did so;”[39]
and he mentions _two_ instances where, on a single leaf, the text of
the _Speculum_ is so printed.[40] The inference which these writers
intended should be drawn from the above statements is, that the press
used by the printer of the _Speculum_ was essentially the same as that
subsequently used by the printers at Mentz.

But what is the evidence in the case? All that can be brought forward
is the nature of the ink, and the appearance of the printed pages.
As regards the ink, it differed from that used at a later period in
Germany, and was certainly much more fluid; this is shewn by its
spreading over the edges, and filling up the loops of the letters.
By itself, however, the ink proves nothing as to how the types were
impressed; that is to be learnt from the appearance of the pages; and
this shews that impressions were taken by a rolling process. A wooden
or metallic roller, 7 inches long, with a diameter of not less than
3 inches, and covered with two or three folds of fine woollen cloth,
rolled, with a sufficient amount of pressure, over the back of the
paper when it was laid upon the types after they had been inked,--or
an uncovered roller, if two or three folds of woollen cloth were laid
over the paper,--would do all that was needed, and be quite sufficient
to account for the practice of printing on one side of the paper only.
The statement how such an impression might be taken, is not however
a proof that such was in reality the method adopted. That proof lies
in the fact, that the capital letters of the columns of text on the
left hand margin, and the end letters of the lines on the right, are
all more or less blurred, and choked with ink, in a way which only
such a cylindrical method of printing would effect; that effect being
caused by the first and last contact of the roller with the outer
edges of the types. In cylindrical machine printing at the present
day, where care has not been taken to guard the edges and ends of the
types by ‘bearings,’ similar blurrings may at any time be seen. In the
admittedly rude appliances of the earliest printers such appearances
would under such a process be at least as plainly shewn. And in the
_absolute fac-simile_ which Mr. Humphreys gives, on plate 10 of his
work, of the page of the _Speculum_ printed from separable letters with
black oleaginous ink, those appearances are most plainly visible. Of
course it was possible to print sheets of paper in this way on both
sides; but care would have to be taken to guard the first printed
side by interposing between it and the roller a waste or setting-off
sheet, before the process was repeated. And, as already hinted, by
the use of ‘bearings,’ the blurring might be avoided. The difference
however between such a process and that invented and put in practice
by Gutenberg, is as great as that which exists between the battering
rams and catapults of the ancients, and the siege trains of modern

Admitting then that impressions from type could be taken on both sides
of a sheet, the mere fact that a single leaf was so printed in two
editions of the same ancient work, is no proof whatever that the said
impressions were made with a press such as was used by the printers at
Mentz, the invention of which became a necessity in order to complete
the Typographic Art. What it does prove, is, that the printer of the
_Speculum_, with the appliances then at his command, preferred the
easier, simpler, and _safer_ method of printing on one side only.

But in the consideration of this subject there are other questions
which ought not to be overlooked;--_e. g._ For what special purposes,
and for whom, were the _Donatuses_ and _Block-books_ printed? Certainly
not for the public at large. The _Donatuses_,--small elementary _Latin_
grammars,--would be for a few of the superior monastic schools of the
day; and the _Biblia Pauperum_, _Ars Memorandi_, _Speculum Salutis_,
&c., were avowedly for “the assistance of poor preachers,”--“propter
pauperes predicatores.” Editions of these works would therefore be
small in number, and the time taken in their production would not be
an object of much account. Mr. Ottley supposes (p. 283) that they
would not exceed 20, 40, or 60 copies each. The market for them,
consequently, might very easily be overstocked. Now as regards the most
ancient _Speculums_ printed in Holland, it is by no means improbable,
that, as two editions in Latin and two in Dutch followed one another
in quick succession, the printer did overstock the market, and had to
cease work in consequence. It is at any rate certain, that the cuts
were laid aside for a length of time, and were not reprinted until
1483, when Veldener, then printing at Culembourg, issued an edition
in small 4to., sawing the pictorial headings in two in order to suit
his purpose. This branch of the subject is of some importance in its
bearings on the question of the origin of block printing in Holland,
and will be more fully considered in a subsequent chapter.

Gutenberg we may fairly presume, (relying upon documentary evidences
for the presumption), aware of the nature and extent of the demand
that existed for such productions, foresaw how a _new public want_
might be created by means of new inventions for further developing the
new-born art. Separable types with the then known methods for making
use of them, were but as acorns in comparison with stately full grown
oaks,--but sickly stunted bushes, instead of luxuriant vines, from
whose wide-spreading boughs the thickly clustered bunches of ripe,
refreshing, life-giving fruit should be sought for far and near. How
to excite and satisfy this want was the problem constantly revolving
in his mind. It soon became evident, that a machine capable of rapidly
striking off copies of works that were to be set up in types, was a
necessity of the case; and to meet that necessity all his energies
were bent. The time and money spent in working out his ideas,--in
constructing the original LETTER-PRESS,--is shewn in the evidence which
has been preserved, the bearing of which seems to have been hitherto
strangely misapprehended.

“The earliest printing press” says Mr. Charles Knight, “was nothing
more than a common screw-press,--such as a cheese press, or a napkin
press.” He gives no authority for the assertion, but he immediately
adds, thereby largely qualifying it,--“with a contrivance for running
the forme of types under the screw after the forme was inked.”[41] In
this ‘contrivance,’ with some few others, which were its necessary
adjuncts,--however simple the matter may seem now-a-days to eyes
accustomed to look upon machinery and mechanical appliances of all
kinds and varieties,--lay the chief difficulty. The screw, from
its power and adjustability, would naturally suggest itself as the
appliance best suited to effect the purpose aimed at. But how to
contrive to make the screw an effective agent in producing impressions
from types, was the question which Gutenberg had to consider. His
separable letters were ready to his hand; but without the press, which
he had yet to make, and to find out how to make, they were as useless
to him as unstrung harp-strings are unmusical until they are keyed and
stretched and tuned, and made to emit soul-thrilling harmonies at the
master touch of the fingers of the finished harpist.

Satisfied with the result of his experiments as to types, a new
series of experiments had to be entered upon before he could hope to
realize his expectations in regard to them. These he carried on in his
residence at St. Arbogaste, in the suburbs of Strasburg.

In his business as a stone polisher, we learn, from his own
declarations, that several years previous to 1436, he had taught that
art to one Andrew Dritzehen. Subsequently, “a long time afterwards,”
he engaged in the manufacture of looking-glasses, along with Johan
Riffe, the prefect or mayor of Lichtenow. Andrew Dritzehen, learning
this, requested Gutenberg to teach him that art as well; and a similar
request was at the same time made on behalf of Andrew Heilman, by his
brother Anthonie. Upon their entering into an agreement, whereby they
bound themselves to pay him certain premiums for so doing, Gutenberg
complied with their requests. But one year, after making preparations
for attending the fair held at the time of the pilgrimages to the
shrines at Aix-la-Chapelle, the journey was suddenly put off until the
year following, owing to the postponement of the fair. Deprived of the
opportunity of increasing their gains, the two Andrews, with enforced
unprofitable leisure upon their hands, made an unexpected visit to St.
Arbogaste, where they found Gutenberg busily engaged upon matters, the
secret of which he seemed determined to keep to himself. After much
importunity, however, he consented to reveal to them, upon certain
conditions, “all the wonderful and secret arts that he knew, without
any exception.” The conditions were, that they on the one side, and
he and Riffe on the other, should cancel the existing agreement, and
enter into a new one; that they should conjointly pay to him the sum
of 250 florins, making, with 160 previously paid for being taught the
art of making looking-glasses, 410 in all; that 100 was to be paid
immediately, and the remainder at stated periods; and that their share
of the profits was to be one-third, the remaining two-thirds being
divided between Gutenberg and Riffe. It was further agreed, that the
partnership for carrying on “_the wonderful art_,” should be for a term
of five years; but that if any one of the partners died before the
expiration of that period, the survivors should, at its expiration, pay
to the representatives of the deceased the sum of one hundred florins,
retaining in their own hands “_all the utensils and implements of the
art, and all works perfected by the instruments_.”

This partnership was entered into about the year 1436. Upon the
completion of the agreement the implements and materials for the new
art were removed from St. Arbogaste to the house of Andrew Dritzehen,
with whom, as perhaps the ablest mechanic in the association, Gutenberg
thenceforth carried on his experiments. These seem to have nearly
approached completion, when Dritzehen was unfortunately seized with
an illness which ended fatally. His death took place in 1438, before
the expiration of the term allotted for the partnership, and while he
was still indebted to Gutenberg in the sum of eighty-five florins.
Gutenberg, as soon as he heard of his death, sent his servant Laurence
Beildeck, to Nicholas Dritzehen, the brother of the deceased, and
requested that no one might be admitted into the workshop, lest the
secret should be discovered, or the materials be stolen. But they had
already disappeared; and this fraud, as well as the claims of George
and Nicholas Dritzehen to succeed to their brother’s share, produced a
lawsuit with the surviving partners.

In the prosecution of this lawsuit, out of a large number of witnesses
summoned, the depositions of sixteen were taken; and in the following
extracts from the evidence of the most material, we may gather what the
secret was which Gutenberg was so desirous to preserve.

“John Schultheissen deposed, that Laurence Beildeck came to his house,
to see Nicholas Dritzehen, when Andrew Dritzehen was lying dead,
and that the said Laurence Beildeck thus spoke to the said Nicholas
Dritzehen:--‘Your brother, Andrew Dritzehen, now happy, had four
“stücke” lying underneath in a press. Therefore John Gutenberg desires
that you will take them therefrom, and thoroughly separate them one
from the other, and lay them on the press, so that it may not be seen
what it is.’ Then Nicholas Dritzehen went and looked for the ‘stücke,’
but found nothing.”

  “Item, Hannsz Schultheisz hatt geseit das Lorentz Beildeck zu
  einer zit heim inn sin husz kommen sy zü Claus Dritzehen als
  diser gezuge jn heim gefürt hette, Als Andres Dritzehen sin
  bruder selige von todes wegen abgangen was, und sprach da Lorentz
  Beildeck zu Claus Dritzehen, Andres Dritzehen uwer bruder selige
  hat iiij stücke undenan inn einer pressen ligen, da hatt uch
  Hanns Gutemberg gebetten das ir die darusz nement und uff die
  presse legent von einander so kan man nit gesehen was das ist,
  Also gieng Claus Dritzehen und suchete die stücke do vant er

“Conrad Sahspach deposed, that Andrew Heilman came to him in Kremer
street and said, ‘My dear Conrad, as Andrew Dritzehen is departed, and
as you made the presses, and know about the matter, do you go thither
and take the “stücke” from the presses, and disjoin them from one
another, so that no man may know what it is.’ But when this witness
wanted to do so, and looked for them on the morrow of St. Stephen’s
day, the whole was gone.”

  “Item, Cunrad Sahspach hatt geseit das Andres Heilman zu einer
  zit zu jme komen sy inn Kremer gasse und sprach zu jme lieber
  Cunrad als Andres Dritzehen abgangen ist da hastu die pressen
  gemaht und weist umb die sache do gang dohin und nym die stücke
  usz der pressen und zerlege sü von einander so weis nyemand was
  es ist, da nu diser gezuge das tun wolte und also suchete das
  were uff Sanct Steffans tag nehst vergangen do was das ding

“Laurence Beildeck declared, that he was sent by Gutenberg to Nicholas
Dritzehen, after the death of Andrew his brother of happy memory, to
tell him, that he should shew the presses he had under his care to
no man; and this the witness stated, he did. He said moreover, that
Gutenberg told him to take good care to go to the press, and to open
the two ‘wurbelin,’ so that the ‘stücke’ should be separated from one
another, and that he should place the ‘stücke’ upon the press, so that
no man seeing might understand them.”

  “Lorenz Beildeck het geseit das Johann Gutenberg in zu einer
  zit geschickt het zu Claus Dritzehen, nach Andres sins bruders
  seligen dode und det Clausen Dritzehen sagen das er die presse
  die er hünder jm het nieman oigete zoigete, das ouch diser gezug
  det, und rette ouch me und sprach er solte sich bekumbern so vil
  und gon über die presse und die mit den zweyen würbelin uff dun
  so vielent die stücke voneinander, dieselben stücke solt er dann
  in die presse oder uff die presse lege so kunde darnach nieman
  gesehen noch ut gemercken.”

“Herr Anthonie Heilman deposed, that being aware that Gutenberg was
about to take Andrew Dritzehen as a third partner into the society for
the manufacture of looking-glasses for the Aix-la-Chapelle market, he
earnestly begged of him to admit therein his brother Andrew, as he
wished to serve him.” After some demur this was agreed to. Witness
supplied his brother with money to the extent of 90 pounds, but at
last said, “What can you want with so much money, seeing that the sum
agreed upon was only 80 florins?--to which Andrew answered, ‘that he
must have money for other purposes; and that two or three days before
the vigil of the Annunciation, he was to pay 80 florins to Gutenberg,
which he, witness, must advance to him.’... Gutenberg afterwards said
to witness, that in acknowledgment of what he had received, they (the
partners) should be upon the same footing in every thing, and that
in future nothing should be concealed from any of them respecting
the _remaining work_.”... “A long time afterwards Gutenberg repeated
this.” After which, a document was drawn up by Gutenberg for the other
partners to sign, which they did after considerable deliberation,
Gutenberg, before their doing so, telling them, “there is as much
stuff in the concern as quite equals your money; so that, in fact,
the knowledge of _the art_ is given you for nothing.” The terms of
the agreement with Gutenberg were, that in this matter they were to
consider themselves beholden to him alone, and not to John Riffe; and
“that in case any one of them should be removed from the partnership
by death, that then it should be well understood--and so it was--that
the matter should be so arranged with his heirs, that, for all things
done or undone, for money advanced by or belonging to the share of such
person, for the value of the stock, the forms, and all other implements
and materials not excepted, they (the surviving partners) should, after
the expiration of five years, pay to his heirs 100 florins. So that he,
Gutenberg, as he observed, gave them a great advantage; for were he
himself to die, after he had once admitted them into the partnership,
his heirs, _notwithstanding the sums previously expended by him_, would
only have to receive 100 florins for his share, like those of any of
the others. All this was done, to the intent that whosoever of them
should die, the surviving partners should not be obliged to make known,
or to shew to his heirs, any thing concerning _the art_; which article
was approved by every one of them.”

This witness also said, “that he well knows that Gutenberg, not long
before Christmas, sent his servant to both the Andrews (Dritzehen and
Heilman) to fetch all the ‘formen,’ that they might be taken out, and
that he should see it done, as he was dissatisfied, and wished to renew
[alter or change] them.”

There is an obscurity in the original of this last passage which
makes it difficult to translate; but it is believed that the meaning
intended to be conveyed is that given above. Oberlin, who thought
the passage referred to metal types, renders it “Gutenberg sent his
servant to bring together all the different forms, which were [to
be] pulled to pieces before him, because there were some with which
he was not satisfied.” Santander, taking the same view as Oberlin,
renders the last clause of the sentence “parce qu’il avait des choses
a corriger:--_because there were things to be corrected_.” This I
believe to be an accurate translation, although I am satisfied that the
‘formen,’ to be corrected were not pages of type. The old German runs

  “Dirre gezuge hat ouch geseit das er wol wisse das Gutenberg
  unlange vor Wihnahten sinen kneht sante zu den beden Andresen,
  alle formen zu holen und würdent zur lossen das er ess sehe, und
  jn joch ettliche formen ruwete.”

Mydehart Stocher, after deposing to what he knew of the facts of the
partnership and the illness and death of Andrew Dritzehen; said that
he had heard the deceased say “that God helping them, the work when
completed, would find its way with the public, and that then he hoped
and trusted, he would be delivered from his difficulties.”

John Niger von Bischovissheim deposed, “that Andrew once came to him
and said that he wanted money ... this witness then asked him what he
was making? and he answered he was a looking-glass maker.”

Barbara von Zabern deposed, “that conversing once with Andrew
Dritzehen, about bed time, she asked him, why he did not at last go to
bed, and that he answered, ‘I must first finish what I have in hand.’
When she continued ‘But, God help me! what a sum of money you seem to
be spending; why all these things must have cost at least 10 florins.’
And he replied, ‘You are a simpleton, Zabern! you think these things
have cost 10 florins. Listen; if you had all they have cost above 300
florins, you would have enough to last you all your life. Why, they
have cost over 500 florins! and they would be good for nothing, if they
were not to cost still more; and that is the reason why I have sunk
both my own and my expected inheritance in the matter.’ ‘But,’ said
she, ‘if it should all turn out badly, what would you do then?’ And
he answered, ‘That can never be; before a year is over we shall have
back again all our capital, and be well off for ever; unless indeed, it
should be the will of God to ruin us.’”

Reimbolt von Ehenheim said, “that a little before Christmas he went
to Andrew, and asked him how he got on with the thing he was about?
Andrew, of happy memory, replied, that it had cost him more than 500
florins, but he hoped that, when it should be finished, he would make a
great deal of money, wherewith he would satisfy witness and others, and
relieve himself from his cares;” &c.

Fridel von Seckingen said, “that Gutenberg had made a purchase,[42]
and that he became surety for the payment; that Gutenberg, Andrew
Heilman, and Andrew Dritzehen, had asked him to become their surety for
101 florins to Stolz the son-in-law of Peter; which he did, upon the
condition that they three should give an acknowledgment of indemnity
for the same; that Gutenberg and Heilman signed and sealed the
indemnity, but Dritzehen did not; and that Gutenberg afterwards paid
all the money, at the time of the last Lent fair.”

“Also, John Dünne, goldsmith, declared, that about three years previous
he had received about 100 florins from Gutenberg, solely for materials
relating to printing (or presses.”)

  “Item, Hanns Dünne der goltsmyt hat geseit, das er vor dryen
  joren oder doby Gutemberg by den hundert guldin abe verdienet
  habe alleine das zu dem trucken gehöret.”

On the part of George and Nicholas Dritzehen it was shewn, that their
brother Andrew, when on his death-bed, stated to his confessor that he
had expended 200 or 300 florins in connection with the partnership, and
that he did not then possess a single obolus.[43]

The suit lasted for nearly twelve months, but was decided against the
Dritzehens; the magistrates adjudging the surviving partners to pay to
the heirs of Andrew Dritzehen, the sum of 15 florins only, which, with
the 85 he was indebted to Gutenberg at the time of his death, made up
the hundred they had bound themselves, according to the contract of
partnership, to pay to the heirs of any of their number who chanced to
die during the term for which it was to last.

Neither in the evidence quoted, nor in any portion of the rest of
the depositions, is anything said about ‘types’ or ‘letters.’ Mr.
Humphreys, adopting the conjecture first made by M. Paul Lacroix,
argues, that the evidence about looking-glasses to be manufactured,
and the partners terming themselves looking-glass makers, is to be
understood as meaning that they purposely adopted that term as a ruse
to conceal the true meaning of their work, which was, in fact, the
manufacture or printing of ‘Mirrors of Salvation.’ But this view can
hardly be considered tenable, inasmuch as Anthonie Heilman shews, that
his brother first entered into the partnership to learn the Art of
making looking-glasses; and that it was not until afterwards--“a long
time afterwards”--that the new arrangement was entered into about the
_remaining work_,--“THE ART,”--the secret, in fact, for which they were
to consider themselves beholden to Gutenberg alone, and not to Riffe.
And this was the view the magistrates took. In their summing up of the
case, they very distinctly state, that after having for several years
taught Andrew Dritzehen the art of polishing stones, Gutenberg admitted
him and Andrew Heilman as partners in a manufactory of looking-glasses,
_which articles he and John Riffe had before been accustomed to sell
at the fairs at Aix-la-Chapelle_; and that it was not until one year,
when the fair had been unexpectedly put off until the year following,
that Gutenberg agreed to reveal to them _all_ the wonderful and secret
arts that he knew, without any exception. The magistrates also referred
to the evidence adduced as to various purchases, some or one of which
was deposed to be of _lead_; and from this it may be inferred that the
lead was intended for the manufacture of type. But there is nothing
to shew that either Riffe or Dritzehen or Heilman was entrusted with
the secret of the separable letters. If however, metal types had been
the secret to be preserved, the fact of their being so would surely
have somehow been more or less distinctly stated. But it was the
four ‘stücke’ under the press,--fixed or fastened by two ‘wurbelin,’
which, when opened, and the ‘stücke’ disjoined and separated one
from the other, no one would understand the meaning of,--as well as
the ‘formen,’--that were the cause of Gutenberg and Heilman’s great
anxiety. These four ‘stücke’ were certainly not four pages, or a forme
of types, fastened together by two screws, which is the interpretation
given, with a note of interrogation attached, by writers of repute,
whose minds appear to have been so filled with the importance of the
separable types, that they have failed to see how the word ‘stücke’
could apply to anything else in connection with printing. Had pages of
type been meant, their being separated,--either by being ‘distributed’
into type-cases, or ‘thrown into pye,’ as it is technically
called,--would not have effected the object of the direction given,
“that no man might know what it is;” for any one seeing sundry boxes
full, or heaps of small pieces of wood or metal, all of the same height
and depth, and each with a letter engraved on its upper end, would
scarcely fail to conclude that they were in some way connected with
printing,--especially if he knew of the existence of block-books,
which at that day were by no means uncommon; nor would two screws have
sufficed to fix or fasten a forme of four pages of type together.

Meerman thinks the four “stücke” alluded to were parts of a press; and
Koning[44] is much of the same opinion, believing that Gutenberg was,
at the time to which the evidence refers, occupied in endeavouring
to construct a printing press of a more perfect kind than had been
before known. Ottley, in his observations upon the evidence, disagrees
with these writers. He says (p. 24,) “On the whole there is, I think,
good reason to conclude that the press so often mentioned by the
witnesses in the processes (for it appears to be the same identical
press that is spoken of throughout) was not a screw-press. What was
its construction, or what the use to which it was applied, I cannot
conjecture.”--(p. 35.) “We are led to suppose by all the depositions
... that there was something about it, which Gutenberg feared might
enable some clever person, who should chance to see it, to become
possessed of one of his secret arts without the regular initiation;
and therefore upon the death of Andrew Dritzehen ... he despatches
thither his servant Beildeck, with directions to take all necessary
precautions respecting it. Why in a matter of such moment, and upon
which he was so anxious, Gutenberg did not go himself, it is difficult
to conceive; or why Andrew Heilman, one of the partners, did not go
and do what was needful, instead of deputing Conrad Sahspach....
However, Lawrence Beildeck was sent instead; ... may I suppose that
upon this occasion he did as Gutenberg directed him? If so, then I
should say that Gutenberg’s mode of proceeding was better calculated
to awaken curiosity respecting his secret art, than to prevent any
dreaded discovery of it; and that although he might be determined
that no one, if he could help it, should have become acquainted with
it for nothing, there was mixed up with this feeling a secret wish,
that his mysterious acquirements should be talked of; in the hopes of
getting a fresh addition of monied partners capable of paying good
premiums.”--Very impartial this of Mr. Ottley! “But” he goes on (p.
37) “we will suppose this press to have existed; and briefly remark
upon what is said of it.... The term ‘_wurbelin_’ used in Beildeck’s
testimony has already been spoken of. The two ‘wurbelin’ were not
screws, but must have been some other kind of fastening, or mode of
pressure, with which the press was provided. What the construction
of the press was, or how these fastenings or modes of pressure were
applied, I pretend not to say: but all the depositions, if we except
that of And. Heilman, (which speaks as if it were the _press itself
which was to be taken to pieces,_) describe it as having within it
some pieces, which in some way were connected with each other, and
which Gutenberg desired should be separated or disjoined, (for there is
nothing said of _dividing the pieces into pieces_) in order that people
might not be able to guess the use for which they were intended. Two of
the witnesses, namely, Schultheiss and his wife, inform us that _these
pieces were four in number_, and that Nic. Dritzehen was desired to
take them out of the press and separate them from each other.... This,
according to the natural meaning of the words, is all that can be made
of these depositions; and it is probable that no one would ever have
attempted to make more of them, had not the name of Gutenberg appeared
in connection with them; for there can be no doubt that presses of
different kinds were known, long before the invention of typography,
and applied to many other purposes, either of stamping or of continued
pressure; and the word ‘stücke,’ employed in this process to describe
the things contained in the press, is as applicable to pieces of one
kind whether of shape or material as of another.”

But this is begging the question completely; for the discussion is not,
whether presses of different kinds were already known; but whether
_the_ Letter press,--the press for taking impressions from types,--was
previously known or not; and in discussing this question, the meanings
of the words “stücke,” “formen,” and “wurbelin,” are most important

What then were the ‘stücke,’ the ‘formen,’ the ‘wurbelin’? What do the
words mean? The German dictionary gives us the answer--“Pieces, parts,
bits, fragments,” &c:--“forms, figures, shapes, _frames_, _patterns_,
_models_,” &c:--“turning joints, tourniquots, twirls, convolutions,
pulley rolls, pegs (in musical instruments),” &c.[45] And as the German
for types is “lettern,” for pages “seiten,” and for screws “schrauben,”
instead of looking to the types for the true interpretation of the
terms, we look to the press, and especially to that portion of it which
Gutenberg was contriving, in order to utilize the mechanical power of
the screw for the purposes of book-printing. As yet this contrivance
was incomplete, for no books had been printed,--no impressions taken
from either blocks or types. The invention, in fact, had not been
perfected:--there were parts which needed to be changed, altered,
corrected. Under such circumstances it is easy to understand that
Gutenberg would reserve the secret of his separable types, until the
completion of the press should enable him to introduce them as the
crowning triumph of his ingenuity.

Within the _frame-work_ of the press then, were fixed,--first, the
screw; underneath the screw, second, the platten, (the impression block
or plate,) to be brought down by the screw upon the types; third, the
carriage, on which the types were to be placed; and fourth, the table
or slide-rest supporting the carriage, with its rounce, or spindle with
crank-handle, drum, and connecting girths to run the carriage in and
out before and after impressions were made. These, or their original
substitutes, were the ‘pieces, parts, or bits’ that formed the four
‘stücke’ spoken of.

But what were the ‘wurbelin’? They were two stout screw-bolts, working
through nuts in a cross-head, and fixing, immoveably, the cross-block
in which the centre screw of the press was wormed. They were variously
made, but the object was invariably the same; to resist, by a counter
pressure, the upward thrust of the screw, when, by the working of
the bar or lever, it was brought down upon the platten, and met the
resistance of the forme at the moment the impression had to be taken.


Examine now the figure of the press in the accompanying engraving,
copied from woodcuts of presses used as printers’ emblems as early as
1498 and 1511; and observe how easily its component pieces could be
separated by removing or opening (unscrewing) the two long _wurbelin_
fixed above the working parts, which were probably merely morticed and
tenoned together. In the following diagram, outlined from an engraving
of the date of 1520, an older fashioned press seems to be shewn, in
which the two wurbelin are differently shaped, while their special use
is still more plainly to be seen. These unscrewed, the inner portions
of the press taken to pieces, and the parts separated or laid aside,
no one, unacquainted with the secret, would be able to guess for what
object they were designed; or, in the words of the evidence, “know what
it is.”

It may perhaps be said, that so apparently simple a matter could
surely not have taken so long a time to contrive, nor have cost so
much as has been implied, in the way of preliminary experiments. But
the printing press, in its origin, was an entirely novel invention.
The whole contrivance,--although the idea, as we learn from Arnold
de Bergel, (1541), was first suggested to Gutenberg’s mind by the
wine-press,[46]--had to be thought out by its inventor, step by step,
unhelped by any adventitious aid. Gutenberg, versatile genius as he
was, may not have been an expert mechanic; he was certainly unable
to avail himself of the many appliances which modern inventors find
ready to their hand at every turn, for they were non-existent, and he
had therefore to realize his designs the best way he could, without
revealing their object to those whom he employed to carry them into
execution. His partners indeed might know that a new kind of block or
book printing was intended, but yet be ignorant of the real purpose for
which the costly and still unfinished machines were meant; for it is
evident, judging from the depositions of Anthonie Heilmann, concerning
the _formen_, (‘frames or models’), and of others who speak of presses
(_pressen_) in the plural, that more than one had been planned. Unless
such knowledge had been imparted to them, and was further supported by
specimens of block Alphabets, school Grammars, and Vocabularies, it
is difficult, if not impossible, to understand how their faith in the
ultimate success of “_the wonderful art_,” could have been so long
sustained. Now, bearing in mind that three hundred and seventy years
later, it cost a practical printer and engineer, aided by other men’s
ideas, and by every facility which science could give for the quick and
accurate production of whatever his ingenuity designed,--no less than
seven years of labour, and an outlay on the part of his employers of
£16,000, before he achieved success in the first cylindrical printing
machine;[47] a machine which was merely required to print off sheets
more rapidly than could be done by the hand-press;--the marvel is, not
that Gutenberg’s invention cost him the time and labour and money it
did; but that in realizing his ideas, he perfected them so thoroughly,
that the principles of his hand-press have not to this day been
improved. Different adaptations of leverage power may have been tried
to produce the same effects, and different materials made use of in
the manufacture of the machinery, but the hand-press of to-day is
essentially the same as that with which the first Typographer printed
his first book. The greater therefore is the honor due to its inventor.

The annexed sketch represents a press in its completed form, with
tympans attached to the end of the carriage, and with the frisket
above the tympans. The tympans, inner and outer, are thin iron frames,
one fitting into the other, on each of which is stretched a skin of
parchment or a breadth of fine cloth. A woollen blanket or two with a
few sheets of paper are placed between these, the whole thus forming
a thin elastic pad, on which the sheet to be printed is laid. The
frisket is a slender frame-work, covered with coarse paper, on which an
impression is first taken; the whole of the printed part is then cut
out, leaving apertures exactly corresponding with the pages of type on
the carriage of the press. The frisket when folded on to the tympans,
and both turned down over the forme of types and run in under the
platten, preserves the sheet from contact with any thing but the inked
surface of the types, when the pull, which brings down the screw and
forces the platten to produce the impression, is made by the pressman
who works the lever,--to whom is facetiously given the title of “the
practitioner at the bar.”


One of the consequences that ensued on the termination of the lawsuit
with the Dritzehens, was a stoppage of the progress of the invention.
Very probably Gutenberg, an impoverished if not a disappointed man,
felt compelled to lay his projects aside, and to devote himself, for
a time at least, to other and more remunerative pursuits. Nothing
more at any rate is heard of the partnership, or of types or presses,
until after his return to Mentz. And as printing was not practised at
Strasburg until after Mentelin set up a press there, this silence is
pretty conclusive as to the correctness of the surmise, that neither
Dritzehen nor Heilmann nor Riffe had been entrusted with the secret of
the separable types.

The inference which writers adverse to the claims of Gutenberg draw
from the silence in the evidence in regard to types or letters, is,
that he had not then invented them. But if the press was not designed,
and made, for taking impressions from types, for what else could it
have been invented? Gutenberg must have had types in his possession,
before he commenced experiments in connection with the press. Now
these experiments commenced some time before 1436; how long cannot be
ascertained; but it is clear that the original making of the types
must necessarily have preceded the first attempt at making a press.
But when once a small stock of metal letters had been engraved, (in
itself a work of years for a single individual,) and it was found that
they could not be availed of by what was then the ordinary method of
producing prints, further progress with them would be stopped, until
the press, which was to make them profitable, had been made.[48] The
mere making of the types, however tedious and time-eating a work, was,
as has already been shewn, by no means so wonderfully ingenious as some
have stated it to be.

A period of ten years now passed by. Gutenberg, true to his
convictions, resumed his typographic labours, and perfected “the
mightiest engine of human intellect--the great leveller of power--the
Demiurgus of the moral world--The Press.”[49]

The statement made by Wimpheling,[50] in his _Epitome Rerum
Germanicarum_, written in 1502, that in the year 1440 the art of
printing was invented by John Gutenberg in Strasburg, though afterwards
brought to perfection in Mentz, affords ground for believing that
between the year 1439 and the date of his leaving Strasburg, Gutenberg
actually printed a work or works in that city. It also gives colour to
the conjecture of M. Bernard[51] that a “Donatus, printed in characters
very closely resembling those of the Bible afterwards printed by
Gutenberg at Mayence, may _possibly_ have been printed by him at
Strasburg.” If M. Bernard be right in his conjecture, Mr. Humphreys is
of opinion, (p. 74,) “that it would tend to prove that the characters
used were of lead, as in the ‘Donatus’ in question the types show such
symptoms of spreading and blurring, as would be sufficient to deter a
man of Gutenberg’s taste and ambition from undertaking the printing of
a more important work.”

Other works may also have been printed, of which no trace remains, as
in the case of the _Tracts_ of Peter of Spain, alleged by Junius to
be one of the two works first printed at Mentz in the year 1442. Of
the other, the _Doctrinal_ of Alexander Gallus, there is a supposed
fragment preserved in the public Library at Treves, part of which is
figured by Wetter, in Tab. XII. of the fac-similes accompanying his
work;[52] but it is plainly the production of the printers of the
_Speculum Humanæ Salvationis_, whoever they were, and of whom more will
be said hereafter. The lines are irregular, the letters appearing to
be of wood, strung together with a thread, a practice known to have
been adopted by the first printers, and to which allusion is made by
Theodor Bibliander (1548), Heinrich Spiegel (1549-1612), and other


Angelo Rocca, in the Appendix to the Account of the Vatican Library
printed at Rome in 1591, states, from personal knowledge, that “the
types used by the inventors of printing were perforated, and connected
together by a thread which was passed through them, of which he
remembered to have seen specimens at Venice.”[53] These perforations
were no doubt the origin of the ‘nicks’ in the shanks of the types,
which now enable compositors to place them in their proper positions,
without examining their faces. But the threading of the letters
by means of such perforations must have proved a great obstacle to
progress in printing, and the perforations must also have greatly
weakened the letters themselves. This will be at once understood from
the annexed figures, shewing the sides of the shanks of two types,
one perforated and the other nicked as at present. Obviously it was
a great improvement to nick the type instead of perforating it. The
object in view, that of keeping the letters in line, would be better
secured by laying a thin wire in and along the nicks, than by stringing
them together with a thread. Time in composing and correcting would
also be saved by the alteration. As soon however as Type-founding was
established as a scientific art, and types were made to adjust together
with mathematical accuracy, neither threads nor wires were longer
wanted; but the nicks still served as a useful aid to the compositor,
in the speedier execution of his work; while the type-founder, by
multiplying their number and varying their positions, enabled him at
once to distinguish the differently-faced founts of the same class of

However occupied in the five years after 1439, Gutenberg’s means became
exhausted; and having been obliged, in order to extricate himself from
his difficulties, to part with a portion of his paternal property to
the Church of St. Thomas, he resolved to leave Strasburg and return to
Mentz, his native city. This he did about the year 1444, taking up his
residence in the ‘Zum Jungen,’ the house of his uncle on the Platz of
the Franciscans. Here, still busily engaged in the work to which he
had now exclusively devoted himself, he again ran out of funds, and
had to borrow 150 florins from Reinhart Brömser and Johan Rodenstein,
for which sum his kinsman, Arnulphus Gelthus, became security. His
first business transaction with John Fust or Faust, the banker and
money-lender, seems to have been in 1448, Faust’s name appearing as a
witness to a deed of purchase made by Gutenberg in that year.[54] Two
years later a contract was entered into between them, which from that
date has made their names inseparable in the annals of the origin of

In the year 1450, Gutenberg, having already completed three, perhaps
four, small founts of type, as well as presses that fully answered his
expectations, designed a work, the magnitude of which necessitated a
large preliminary outlay. To enable him to execute his design, he had
recourse to Faust. Faust, having convinced himself of the worth of his
inventions, and the value of the project in contemplation, agreed to
“advance to John Gutenberg 800 florins in money, as a fixed sum, with
which he was to perform the work in question,” on condition “that the
utensils were to be considered as security to the said John Faust, and
that he (Gutenberg) was to give six florins per cent. interest for
these 800 florins.” With this money Gutenberg was bound “to prepare and
make utensils” to be employed for their joint use. Faust also agreed to
pay 300 florins annually “for expenses, as well as _for the wages of
servants, rent, firing, parchment, paper, ink, &c._” It was moreover
stipulated, “that if in future they should disagree, Gutenberg was to
give back to Faust his 800 florins, and that his utensils were then to
be released.”[55]

Supplied with funds, Gutenberg set actively to work. Several assistants
were at once engaged, and amongst the rest Peter Schœffer of
Gernszheim. Their principal occupation would be in connection with the
work for which Faust made the advance of 800 florins; but while that
was progressing, several small matters were printed, for which there
would be a steady though probably only a limited demand. The Abbot
Trithemius states, in his _Chronicon Hirsaugiense_, that “a vocabulary
called the _Catholicon_,”[56] was the first work printed, “with the
characters of the letters carved in wooden tablets in a series, and
composed in forms:--imprimis agitur characteribus litterarum in
tabulis lignis per ordinem scriptis formisque compositis.” Other
writers make mention of an Alphabet, engraved on a single page, and
two editions of Donatuses, also cut in solid blocks. These were most
likely brought by Gutenberg from Strasburg, and would be his earliest
efforts. But besides these, there were Donatuses in cut metal types,
and, as some consider, “An Appeal against the Turks,” and “Letters of
Indulgence,” printed in the years 1454 and 1455.[57] All these were
doubtless the ‘pot-boilers’ of the establishment for the time being.

At length the _magnum opus_,--the celebrated _Biblia Latina
Vulgata_,--made its appearance. This work is commonly known as the
“MAZARIN BIBLE,” from a copy having been discovered in the Bibliotheque
Mazarin at Paris, about the middle of the eighteenth century. It was
recognised by the book-seller and bibliopole De Bure, who gave a
minute description of it in the _Bibliographie Instructive_, (vol.
i. pp. 32-40.) There can hardly exist a doubt that this is the work
to which Ulric Zell refers in his account of the origin of Printing,
where he says--“And in the year M.CCCC.L. which was a jubilee, they
began to print; and the first book printed was the Bible in Latin.”[58]
Being without a date, the exact year of its publication cannot be
ascertained; but a copy exists in the Royal Library in Paris, printed
on paper, and bound in two volumes, on each of which is an entry,
stating the date when its binding and illuminating was completed: and
as the second entry gives the information that this was finished at
Mentz on the Feast of the Assumption, 1456,[59] the work itself could
not have been issued from the press later than the year preceding,
1455, which secures to it an unimpeached priority in the records of

Strange to say, the existence of this work was unknown until the
discovery of the Mazarin copy; since then about twenty copies have
been traced in various libraries, some on vellum, and some on paper:
twelve of these are now in England, and in every place where they
are deposited, they are justly considered the most precious of
bibliographical treasures. The type is of a large handsome Gothic
character, fine and square and sharp, imitative of the best manuscripts
of the time, the first letters of each chapter being painted in by
hand. The book consists of 637 leaves, with two columns each containing
forty-two lines printed upon each page.[60] It is beautifully executed,
and remarkable for the blackness and brilliancy of the ink made use of.

“It is a very striking circumstance,” says Mr. Hallam, “that the
high minded inventors of this great art, tried at the very outset so
bold a flight as the printing an entire Bible, and executed it with
astonishing success. It was Minerva leaping on earth in her divine
strength and radiant armour, ready at the moment of her nativity, to
subdue and destroy her enemies. The Mazarin Bible is printed, some
copies on vellum, some on paper of choice quality, with strong, black
and tolerably handsome characters, but with some want of uniformity,
which has led, perhaps unreasonably, to a doubt whether they were cast
in a matrix.[61] We may see in imagination this venerable and splendid
volume, leading up the crowded myriads of its followers, and imploring
as it were a blessing on the new art, by dedicating its first fruits to

Whatever may have been the precise date of the publication of this
Bible, it is evident that some short time before, a disagreement took
place between Faust and Gutenberg. The first advance of 800 florins
made by the former, not having sufficed for bringing out the work, a
second advance had been made to the same extent, and for five years
no interest had been paid. Principal and interest, or the forfeiture
of the security, were then demanded; and the demand enforced by an
action at law. Why Faust waited so long, and then, when the work was
all but ready for publication, made his demand, amounting in all to
2020 florins, it may not be difficult to determine as the narrative

Gutenberg did not appear in person at the final hearing of the case,
but empowered “the respectable Sieur Henry Gunther, late curate of
St. Christopher’s at Mentz, Henry Keffer, and Bertolff of Hanau, his
servant and domestic,” to hear and see what was done in the matter.
He did not deny the fact of the advances, but pleaded against the
demand for immediate payment,--“that it was well understood that he
was to complete the work with the money which he (Faust) had lent to
him upon his pledges, but that he considers he was not obliged to
employ these 800 florins in the making of books; and although it be
stated in the letter of agreement, that he was to give six per cent.
interest; nevertheless Joh. Faust promised that he would not ask him
for this interest; and, further, that these 800 florins were not paid
to him, according to the tenor of the agreement, all at one time, as he
pretends in the first article of his demand; and that with regard to
the last 800 florins he is willing to render an account. He (Gutenberg)
does not admit that he ought to pay either interest or usury, and he
hopes he will not be obliged to do so by the Court; all which has
appeared in the demand, the answer, the reply, the rejoinder, and in
various other written papers, &c.”

But the magistrates gave judgment against him in the following
terms:--“That when Joh. Gutenberg shall have rendered an account of
all his receipts, and of the sums expended by him for their joint
advantage, whatever further moneys he may have received, over and
above, shall be counted in the 800 florins; but that if it shall appear
by the account, that Faust has advanced to him any money beyond the
800 florins, which has not been employed for their joint advantage,
he (Gutenberg) shall repay it to him; and if Joh. Faust shall prove
by oath or other good evidence, that he borrowed the said money at
interest, and that he did not advance it out of his own funds, then
Joh. Gutenberg shall also pay to him the said interest, according to
the tenor of the letter of agreement.”

Whereupon the said Joh. Faust declared upon oath as follows: “I,
Joh. Faust, did borrow fifteen hundred and fifty florins which were
delivered to Joh. Gutenberg, and have been employed for our joint
advantage. I have been obliged annually to pay interest and usury for
the same, and I still owe a part; therefore I charge him, for each
hundred florins that I have borrowed, as is said above, six florins
annually for the money borrowed, which he has received, and which has
been employed upon our joint work, as appears in the account; I demand
of him the interest, according to the tenor of the judgment; and in
proof that such is the fact, I am willing to abide, as is just, by the
tenor of the judgment given upon the first count of the demand which I
have made against the said Joh. Gutenberg.”

This closed the proceedings, which were duly attested by Ulric
Helmasperger, clerk of the Bishopric of Bamberg, by Imperial authority
Notary Public, and sworn Notary of the Holy See at Mentz, on the sixth
day of November 1455. The persons present as witnesses were Pieter
Grantz, Joh. Kilsen, Joh. Knopff, Joh. Iseneckh, Jaques Faust, Burgher
of Mentz, and _Pieter Gernszheim_ and Joh. Bonne, Clerks of the city
and Bishopric of Mentz.

Gutenberg, not being able to meet the demand, the mortgage on the
materials was foreclosed, and Faust thus became possessor of types and
presses in his own right. These, with “the stock of partially complete
Bibles, were removed from Gutenberg’s residence, and taken to the
house of Faust in the Schuster Gasse, (Shoemaker’s street) which was
eventually styled ‘The Printing Office,’ as the house of Gutenberg had
previously been.”[62]

Before proceeding further it will be well to ascertain what there was
in the plant of the printing establishment at the Zum Jungen which
could occasion so great an outlay. We have already seen how much time
and money had been spent in the experiments at Strasburg. It is not
recorded how Gutenberg arranged with his partners there; but it may be
fairly assumed, that in 1444 he brought with him to Mentz his original
blocks, and types, as well as apparatus for setting up presses. The
making of new founts of type would therefore be his chief concern. If
the small works attributed to him by Fischer, Van Praet, and others,
really issued from his press, (and there is no reason to doubt the
fact,) three founts of type were already made, before the one for the
Latin Bible was commenced. Now supposing that these three founts
consisted of 10,000 letters in all, an equal number would, at least,
be required to complete four pages of the Bible; for the printing of
such a work could hardly have been begun with less type than would
suffice for two formes of two pages each. How then were these letters
made? The answer to this question is given in the statement of the
Abbot Trithemius, who says, that to the engraved letters on solid
blocks “succeeded a more ingenious invention, for they found out a way
of _stamping the shapes_ of every letter of the Latin alphabet in what
they called matrices, from which they afterwards _cast their letters_
in copper or tin, hard enough to be printed upon, _which they first
cut with their own hands_.”[63] This information was given to the
Abbot by Peter Schœffer of Gernszheim, one of Faust’s witnesses in the
lawsuit with Gutenberg, the same who invented the art of type-founding
as at present practised, and who moreover added, “that before the
third quaternion (twelve sheets) of the bible was completed, no less a
sum than 4000 florins had been expended.”[64] From this statement it
is clear that the matrices consisted of a number of small troughs of
uniform length, each one the size, in regard to depth and thickness,
of the shape of a letter; that these shapes were stamped into a
prepared mould of clay or plaster; that the fused metal was poured
into these matrices; and that a considerable number of small ingots,
or cast ‘blanks’ might thus be made at each pouring of the metal. The
accompanying diagram, in which the border represents the rim of the
mould, and the inside figures the matrices, renders further explanation
unnecessary. On one end of each of these cast ‘blanks,’ a letter would
be cut or engraved by hand, while the sides would be ‘dressed’ (with
perhaps a greater amount of labour,) in the same way as ordinary
type now-a-days. It is not at all unlikely that this method, called
by some the _fuso-sculpte_, may have been suggested by the goldsmith
John Dünne, the friend of Gutenberg at Strasburg; or if not, by Faust


With a ready method at hand for preparing his blanks, let us now see
how long the engraving of the letters would take. Assuming that one,
or say two, small founts had been finished at Strasburg, comprising
about 4000 letters, and that 6000 were completed at Mentz before the
contract was made with Faust, what length of time would be required
to complete them? An expert modern punch-cutter can complete, in one
day, two steel types for striking matrices with.[65] Supposing that
with softer metal Gutenberg engraved his blanks at the rate of four
a day; and that deducting Sundays and Saints’ days, he worked three
hundred days a year; _five years_ would be occupied in completing two
founts of 3000 letters each; which, when finished, might weigh about
one hundred pounds. With the additional funds placed at his command by
Faust in 1450, Gutenberg would most probably engage another engraver;
and supposing that the two engraved eight letters a day, 10,000
letters would keep them both fully occupied upwards of _four_ years.
With the making of presses, type-cases, ink, and all the remaining
paraphernalia of a printing office, supposing Gutenberg employed two or
three assistant engravers instead of one, and that the bible was begun
with type for one page only, while the engravers still went on cutting
fresh supplies, his time would be amply taken up; and the amount of
money that would thus be sunk would come in the long run to something

No wonder that Faust at last grew impatient, and was ready to foreclose
his mortgage over the plant, as soon as he saw his way clear to
something in the shape of a return for his advances.

It is however not a little singular, that Ottley, who published all the
documents in the case, and avowed his desire to treat the subject with
the impartiality of an umpire,[66] should have allowed his Costerian
proclivities to develope themselves in the following terms:--“On
the whole I confess that after perusing and re-perusing the above
document (the law process) with all the attention I am master of, the
impression it leaves upon my mind, and indeed the only idea I can form
of the transaction it refers to, that seems at all probable, is, that
Fust, after four or five years’ patient trial, found that Gutenberg
was incompetent to perform the task he had undertaken, whatever it
was, or that from indolence he had neglected it; that his money was
going very fast, and there was little to shew for it; and that he had
discovered, as is hinted in the sentence,”[67] [how or where?] “that no
small portion of it had been applied by Gutenberg to his own private
purposes;” especially when he wrote immediately after,--“it is by no
means improbable ... that, some years before the date of the above
agreement, Fust had assisted with his wits and hands, as well as with
his money, in perfecting the art and bringing it into operation.”
Improbable it may not have been, but there is nothing whatever to shew
that, in fact, such was the case; on the contrary, such facts as do
appear lead to an opposite conclusion.

We have now arrived at a point in the narrative where Peter Schœffer
comes to the fore-front in the history of the art. Born in Gernszheim,
after completing his education at the University of Paris,[68] and
adopting, it would seem, the profession of a scribe,--a craft in which
the more expert members combined with the art of writing that of
illuminating the manuscript works they copied,--he betook himself to
Mentz, where he was engaged by Gutenberg to assist in the printing
operations at the Zum Junghen. As the first printed books were
imitations of, and avowedly sold as, manuscripts, three reasons for
this engagement may be seen,--the preparation of the MS. copy; the
designing of the characters for the types; and the illuminating of the
books when printed.

“The afore-mentioned Peter Schœffer,” says the Abbot Trithemius,
“being a person of great ingenuity, discovered an easier method of
casting letters, and perfected the art as we now have it.”[69] This
“easier method” was that of casting metal types complete, instead of
cutting the letters on the ends of cast blanks; and in its success,
he perfected an invention which formed the climax to the Art of
Typography--an invention which has immortalized his name as the last,
though not the least, of the associated Three to whom alone belong the
title of the Fathers of the Typographic Art.

The eloquent author of an article upon Printing in the Encyclopædia
Britannica, writes as follows regarding this invention:--“It is
very likely that the combination of character and qualifications of
the three men, John Gutenberg, John Faust, and Peter Schœffer, may
afford a good clue not only to the wonderful taste and beauty which
distinguished the works issued from their press, but also to the
general improvement of the art during their connection with it. The
ingenuity of Gutenberg (the inventor of the new mode of printing) would
readily suggest a novel and expeditious method of manufacturing types;
the practical skill of Faust as a worker in metals (for the working
of gold and silver had at that time attained a most extraordinary
nicety and cunning), as well as his large pecuniary resources, would
promptly provide the necessary appliances; while the taste of Schœffer,
would give all possible grace and missal-like excellence to the new
forms. For Schœffer, it should be borne in mind, was a scribe,--one
of that ancient and honorable craft whose occupation was destined to
fall before the new art,--a transcriber and perhaps an illuminator of
the manuscript works in use before books; and those who have had the
happiness of viewing the exquisite specimens of skill which beguiled
our ancestors into study and devotion, will readily conceive that
Schœffer’s eye was already schooled for the conception, and his hand
for the execution, of all the beauty which the trammels of a new art
and limited skill would allow. Aided by his own taste, Schœffer, it is
said, proceeded to a new enterprise--viz. the casting of type. The
entire conception and execution of this invention has generally been
attributed and allowed to Schœffer. It seems most probable, however,
that where three ingenious men are bound together by art and interest,
none of them can lay exclusive claim to any invention or undertaking,
executed in the workshops for the benefit of all. Allowing therefore to
Schœffer the honor of having suggested some such plan (as the design of
the types to be used) the other two may fairly put in a claim for their
portion of the approbation attached to the invention, on the score of
their practical suggestions in carrying it out; especially since Faust,
as a worker in metals, would have been the party whose function it was
to engage the workmen necessary to carry out the particular design.”

Mr. Mayhew, in his elaborate work upon the Trades and Manufactories of
Great Britain says,--“The only evidence as to the origin of fusile
types appears to shew that Gutenberg, Faust, and Schœffer, had for
some time practised a method of taking casts of types in moulds of
plaster.... We are told, though we know not what is the proof of the
assertion, that it was Schœffer, who after the failure of casting
types in plaster moulds, suggested the process which still continues
in operation. Schœffer is said, therefore, to have an undoubted claim
to be considered as one of the three inventors of printing; for it
is asserted (but upon what evidence we have yet to discover) that he
first suggested the cutting of punches, whereby not only could the
most beautiful form of letter which the taste and skill of the artist
could suggest, be truthfully transferred to the matrix, but a degree of
sharpness and finish be given to the face which was quite unattainable
in type cut in wood; whilst to the shank of the type the mould would
serve to give the nicety of angle requisite to enable any number of
such separate letters to be locked up into one solid mass. Add to
this, that the punch, being once approved of, could be kept ready to
stamp a new matrix with precisely the same form, and with the very same
nicety as the first, whenever another might be wanted, and we have a
full sense of the benefits which the first inventors of the means of
casting fusile types from matrices stamped with punches, conferred upon

The writer in the Encyclopædia Britannica seems to have been unaware of
all the known facts of the case, and to have allowed his imagination
full play when writing upon what he considered its possibilities.
Mr. Mayhew,--misunderstanding the statement of Trithemius about the
shapes of the letters being stamped into moulds so as to form matrices,
in which similar shapes were then cast in metal, to be afterwards
engraved or cut into letters,--is inclined to be sceptical in regard to
Schœffer’s claims, although he does not venture to deny them. Neither
of these writers, nor any other with whose works I am acquainted, has
succeeded in tracing, in a satisfactory manner, the steps by which
Schœffer attained to the realization of his idea. It is no doubt
difficult to do so in the absence of positive statements by Schœffer
or his contemporaries; but the following considerations, fairly and
reasonably deducible from well established facts, may help to a better
understanding of the subject than has hitherto been arrived at.

That attempts would be repeatedly made to take complete casts of type,
and that such attempts led the way to the goal ultimately reached, is
extremely probable. The labour of continually cutting separate letters
as they were required, must have seemed to Schœffer, a most irksome and
unprofitable toil. Faust was undoubtedly of the same opinion. It would
appear from various authorities that Schœffer looked upon him as his
master. Faust certainly was the paymaster to the establishment at the
Zum Junghen, and very probably placed Schœffer there, not merely as an
acquisition on account of his abilities, but as a man whom he could
trust to look after his interests.

Well aware of the position in which Gutenberg and Faust stood toward
each other, in respect to the advances made for completing the costly
work they had in hand; and knowing what heavy expenses were incurred,
and how much delay[70] was occasioned by their method of proceeding,
Schœffer’s mind would be constantly brooding over the possibility of
obviating, by some simple process, the difficulties which perpetually
beset them. Every thing he saw which seemed likely to lead to the
attainment of the desired end would be eagerly scrutinised and applied
to what might at this time be considered the set purpose of his life.
Wealth and fame awaited success; and a desire to rival Gutenberg as an
inventor, and the hope of contracting a family alliance with Faust,
the influential money-lender, may have acted as spurs to quicken his
ambition and animate the resolution that determined his course.

It is to be remembered that Faust was a member of a family of
goldsmiths, and that in their business, punches, dies, and moulds,
would be in frequent use. And although the goldsmith’s art, as all
other arts then were, would be conducted as a mystery, to which none
but the regularly initiated had access, Schœffer, in the opportunities
for intimacy with Faust which his position afforded him, could
hardly fail, sooner or later, to observe such appliances. These once
observed,--and opportunities for observation, in his capacity of
illuminator (an art in which gold and silver were sometimes largely
used) would not be wanting, especially when eagerly watched and waited
for,--he would not rest until he had ascertained the uses to which they
were put; and that information gained, the practical application would
quickly follow. The punches he needed were ready to his hand. Each
letter then in use, made of hard cut metal,[71] was, in fact, a punch.
To strike a matrix in a softer metal, or in clay or plaster, which
could be subsequently hardened, and to adapt a mould to cast a type
with a shank or body of uniform height and accurately squared, were the
two steps that were required. The mould would be his chief difficulty.
This he had to devise so that it could be adjusted to the varying
widths of the different letters and characters required for a complete
fount[72] of types; and this could scarcely be effected otherwise than
by making it in corresponding halves, with a provision for leaving in
their centre, when closed together, a small quadrangular channel or
chamber, made of hard metal, the width of which could be regulated by
a slide and screw. The stamped part of the matrix placed at the end of
this channel, would form the bottom of the mould; and when this was
fixed, it would be ready for the pouring in of the fused metal, which
setting almost instantly, a quick and slight opening of the halves
of the mould, enabled the operator to shake out the cast type. The
type-founder could thus rapidly repeat the process until he had cast
as many letters as he required. A little careful trimming and dressing
was all that was further needed on his part before he handed them over
to the printer ready for use. No doubt it required much thought, and
many experiments, before the mould was finished to the satisfaction of
its inventor. But as soon as it was completed, the Type-founder’s art

From the foregoing considerations it becomes apparent that as Faust
found money to enable Gutenberg fully to realise his ideas as to
Letter-press printing, so in all likelihood did the business which
was the source of Faust’s wealth, furnish to Schœffer the clue which
enabled him to complete the invention, without which Typography
could never have achieved the results that were effected by it with
such marvellous rapidity within the lifetime of those by whom it was

That Schœffer really originated the Type-founder’s art is further
proved by the account given of him by John Frederick Faust of
Aschaffenberg,[73] who after attributing the origin of printing to his
relative, Faust of Mentz, and describing the difficulties experienced
with the ink in the earlier attempts; as well as the trouble and delay
occasioned by the want of a suitable press to obtain impressions from
the separable letters, proceeds as follows:--“He [Faust] had however,
some people who actively assisted him in printing, composing, making
ink, and so forth. Amongst these was a certain Peter Schœffer of
Gernszheim, who entering into his master’s views, and being himself
ardently desirous to improve the art, found out, by the good providence
of God, the method of cutting (_incidendi_) the characters in a
_matrix_, that the letters might easily be singly _cast_ instead of
being _cut_. He _privately cut matrices_ for the whole alphabet; and
when he showed his master the letters cast from those matrices, Faust
was so pleased with the contrivance, that he promised Peter to give him
his only daughter [grand-daughter] Christina in marriage, a promise
which was in due time fulfilled. _But there were as many difficulties
at first with these letters, as there had been before with those of
wood_; the metal being too soft to support the force of the impression;
but this defect was soon remedied, by mixing the metal with a substance
which sufficiently hardened it.”[74]

This sets the matter at rest, and shews that neither to Gutenberg
nor to Faust was Schœffer indebted for suggestions which in their
estimation were likely to lead to so important an invention--the
fourth grand step in the newly-discovered Art,--the method of rapidly
_casting_ fac-simile types in fusile metal.[75]

Giving then to Schœffer all the honor to which he is entitled, it may
still be asked, Why did he reveal the secret to Faust alone, and not to
Gutenberg as well?--and the answer to this question may possibly throw
some light upon the motives which actuated Faust in prosecuting the
lawsuit against Gutenberg. Schœffer was at the time in a subordinate
position in the printing office, and hardly likely to be able to
command, from his own resources, sufficient funds to establish himself
as a printer on his own account. He would consequently look rather to
Faust than to Gutenberg for his reward. In the next place, if, as it
is but reasonable to suppose, he had made use of Gutenberg’s letters
as his punches, (for it is by no means clear that he cut punches for
himself, and he was not, like either Gutenberg or Faust, a worker in
metals), he might well expect that Gutenberg would object to the terms
he was resolved upon demanding; and moreover, resent the use of his
letters for the purpose to which, without his permission, they had been
applied. Such an unauthorised use of his original invention either
was, or might be deemed to be, injurious to Gutenberg; and it is not
exactly in accordance with the average standard of human nature for one
man who has injured another,[76]--especially in stealing a march upon
him in the matter of an important invention,--to reveal to the party
injured what he has been doing detrimental to his interests. Schœffer
at any rate was determined that Gutenberg should be kept in ignorance
of his secret. The proceedings of the lawsuit shew, that at the time
it was pending, Schœffer was not in any way concerned in the profits or
losses attending the business;--in fact, his name does not appear in
connection with it, except as a witness on behalf of Faust. What more
likely then, than that knowing the heavy advances made by Faust, for
which no returns had as yet been received,--knowing, too, how changed
the aspect of affairs would be by the application of his invention,--he
insisted upon Faust ousting Gutenberg, as one of the stipulations
for the revelation of his secret. Whether it was so or not, it is
certain, that after Gutenberg was got rid of, Faust took Schœffer
into partnership, placed him in charge of the printing establishment,
betrothed him to his grand-daughter, and conjointly with him, imposed
an oath of secresy upon all to whom a knowledge of the new invention
was entrusted.

This view of the case completely meets an objection which has been
raised by Mr. Ottley. “If,” says he, “Faust had been brought up as a
goldsmith, he may reasonably be supposed to have possessed acquirements
applicable to the art [printing] which now engaged his attention,
and among others, the arts of carving, chiselling, and casting. If
we suppose Faust not to have busied himself at all with the various
details and processes of the new art, during the above five years’
partnership, but that he left the entire direction and management to
Gutenberg (as these writers would have us to believe), he must, one
would think, have been but ill able to do without him, when in 1455,
he brought the above action for the recovery of the monies he had
advanced; and this objection to their system, appears to me to be
worthy of consideration, nay to be almost decisive.”

The objection thus raised so far from being decisive, is not only not
so, but it has no solid foundation in fact. Nothing in the law-process
shews that Faust had anything whatever to do with the management and
working of the printing establishment. It was entirely in Gutenberg’s
hands; Faust merely contracting with him to find the money to carry it
on, (_pay wages, &c._), for which he was to receive usury at the rate
of 6 per cent, _and, in addition_, a share of the profits, whatever
they might ultimately be. As a partner, he would have had to bear his
share of the _losses_, as well as to be a participator in the gains of
the undertaking; but against the contingency of loss he took good care
to guard himself. It is evident therefore, that to have foreclosed his
mortgage over the materials before he was in a position to entrust them
to some one who could work them to his advantage, would have been an
act of folly which he was far too shrewd a man of business to commit.
But as soon as Schœffer revealed his invention, and stipulated his
terms, all objections to a foreclosure were removed. The money was
demanded; the action brought; and we have seen with what results.

But whatever were the motives which actuated either Faust or Schœffer
in their treatment of Gutenberg, the immediate effect of Schœffer’s
invention would be, to cheapen and facilitate the production of types,
as much as, if not more than, the effect of the original invention by
Gutenberg in cheapening and facilitating the multiplication of copies
of works previously only attainable in manuscript. Printing was thus
rendered at once, what it was scarcely possible to have been before, a
profitable, if not a highly remunerative pursuit. But with the success
which resulted from Schœffer’s invention, came the downfall of the
venerable Guild of Writers; and the ancient copyists laid down their
pens in despair, intuitively feeling that thenceforth the occupation of
the scribe was gone.

Disastrous as was the lawsuit with Faust, it was not so utterly ruinous
in its results to Gutenberg as most writers have supposed. In the
first place, Faust had, at the outset, security for his advances.
Gutenberg had exhausted his own means in perfecting the art before he
sought assistance, and Faust was not the man to lend him money without
having money’s worth to guard against loss; secondly, the advances were
for a specific object,--for the joint advantage of both,--but that
object was likewise pledged to Faust as a collateral security; and
had been partially, if not wholly accomplished, before Faust made his

In the lawsuit, it was to Faust’s claim for interest that Gutenberg
principally demurred, his plea being, that although the letter of the
agreement between them might justify the claim, Faust had verbally
promised not to press it. The magistrates however decided according to
the terms of the agreement, and their judgment was not inequitable.
They ordered an account to be rendered of all moneys spent and
received in connection with the work which was undertaken for the joint
advantage of the litigants; Gutenberg to be credited with what was
fairly his due, and Faust to be repaid the principal and interest to
which he was entitled.

Now it by no means follows that the whole of the types, presses, and
plant of the printing establishment at the Zum Junghen was absorbed in
the discharge of Faust’s claim. Doubtless it was no small share that
went for that purpose, including as it did all that was printed of
the folio Bible of 637 leaves,--sufficient of itself, supposing the
edition did not exceed two hundred copies, to meet a large proportion
of the debt. The rupture, although it broke up the establishment, left
Gutenberg with men and materials still at command. Faust, as we have
seen, removed the stock that had been made over to him to his premises
in the Schuster Gasse; and Gutenberg went with the remainder to his
dwelling at the Zum Gutenberg, where he opened a ‘printing house’ on
his own account.[77]

Gutenberg’s position in Mentz was certainly one of influence, if not of
wealth. It is highly probable that at this time Dr. Conrad Homery,[78]
the syndic of the city, advanced him funds for the replenishment of
his stock of materials, since they were claimed by, and made over to
him, on Gutenberg’s death. With or without such aid he was speedily
at work again, and palæotypographists have recognised the products of
his press in the “Tractatus de celebratione Missarum;” the “Hermani
de Saldis Speculum Sacerdoti;” a treatise in the German language on
Councils; the “Dyalogus inter Hugonem Cathonem et Oliverium super
Libertate Ecclesiastica,” and a Kalendar or Almanack for the year 1460,
consisting of a few leaves in 4to. printed in characters resembling
those used in the first of the above-named works. A sheet Almanack for
1457, the first printed with a date, has also been attributed to him.
Independently of the special value of this document as a relic of early
printing, it proves that in the neighbourhood of Mentz the year then
commenced with the month of January, according to the Roman system,
and not at Easter as was the case in France and other countries, or at
Christmas as in some other places.

Strange to say Gutenberg attached his name to none of his works. It has
been suggested that this was owing to his patrician pride. Whether so
or not he was well known to his contemporaries both as a printer, and
the inventor of Printing.

The Typographer Philip de Lignamines, in his “History of the Pontiffs”
printed at Rome in 1474, writing of the events of the year 1458--three
years after the lawsuit, says--“Jean Gutenberg of Strasburg, and
another, named Fust, skilful in the art of printing with characters
of metal, on parchment, each print three hundred sheets per day at
Mentz.” And in a document preserved in the Library of the Arsenal at
Paris, it is stated, that on “the 3rd October, 1458, the King (Charles
V), having learnt that Messire Gutenberg, chevalier, residing at
Mentz, in Germany, a man dexterous in the engraving of letters and
punches, had brought to light the invention of printing by means of
such characters; and being curious concerning such valuable knowledge,
the King ordered the masters of his Mint to name to him persons well
skilled in such kind of engraving, that he might despatch them to
the aforesaid place, in order secretly to inform themselves of the
said invention, and to understand, conceive, and learn the art, &c.”
Whereupon, it was directed that Nicholas Jenson, an expert engraver,
should be forthwith despatched to Mentz, to learn the art in question,
for the purpose of introducing it to Paris.

It is believed by some writers, that Gutenberg continued to the end
of his career as a Typographer to print with cut metal types. Oaths
of secresy were imposed by Faust and Schœffer upon all whom they
employed, by which means they hoped to secure the knowledge of the
art of type-founding to themselves. But in the year 1462, when Mentz
was sacked by the troops of the Elector-Archbishop, Count Adolphus of
Nassau, their workmen were dispersed, and the arts of printing and
type-founding were generally made known all over Europe. Gutenberg
however must have seen at once, upon an examination of the works that
were issued from Faust and Schœffer’s establishment, that they were
producing types in some extraordinarily rapid manner; and acute as he
was, it is not likely that he would remain long in ignorance of the
method adopted. There were no doubt intimacies among the workmen of
the rival establishments, who had at first worked all together; and
among whom the secret would sooner or later ooze out. The _science_ of
Johann Nummeister, (whose name occurs in a document associated with
that of Gutenberg), may also have been especially called in to assist
in a competing method of type-founding. Certain it is, that two or
three years before 1462, Albrecht Pfister, and the brothers Henry and
Nicholas Bechtermuntze, with Wyngardum Spyes de Otherberg, printed
works with types so evidently the same as those cut by Gutenberg,
that they have not unfrequently been attributed to his press. Various
suppositions have been made, to account for this, but no one appears
to have thought of that which seems to be the most obvious; namely,
that sets of matrices or types were sold by Gutenberg to these early
printers, who with Keffer and Sensenschmidt and others, were taught
the art at his establishment. Where suppositions must be resorted to
in order to account for facts, those which are the most natural ought
surely to be chosen in preference to others which are less or least so.

About the year 1800, some interesting documents relating to Gutenberg
and his family were said to have been discovered by M. Bodman the
archivist of Mentz. The following,--the seals to which were copied
by Fischer in his “Essai sur le Monumens Typographiques de Jean
Gutenberg,” is entitled:--

“Agreement between Gutenberg and his brothers, &c., and the Nuns of the
Convent of St. Clair, at Mentz, A.D. 1459.

“We, Henne (John) Genszfleisch of Sulgeloch, called Gudinberg, and
Friele Genszfleisch, brothers, affirm and publicly declare by these
presents, and make known to all, that with the counsel and consent
of our dear cousins Johann and Friele and Pedirmann Genszfleisch,
brothers in Mentz, we have renounced and do renounce by these presents,
for us and our heirs, singly, together and at once, without fraud or
reserve, all the property that has passed by our sister Hebele to the
Convent of St. Clair at Mentz, in which she has become a nun; whether
the said property has been received by her on the part of our father
Henne Genszfleisch, or been given by himself, or in whatsoever other
manner, whether in grain, money, furniture, jewelry, or of whatever
kind it may be, which the respectable nuns, the Abbess and sisters
of the said convent have received, whether as a body or individually,
or which other persons of the convent may have received from the said
Hebele, be it great or small; and we have promised and do promise by
these presents, in good faith for us and our heirs, that neither we
nor any person on our part, nor our above named cousins nor their
heirs, nor any person on their part, shall demand back or reclaim
from the said convent, or from the Abbess, or from the convent as a
body, or from any persons who reside there individually, the said
property, be it what it may, either in whole or in part, and that we
will never demand it back, whether by the ecclesiastical or civil
judge, or without the assistance of the judge, and that neither we nor
our heirs, will ever molest the said convent by word or deed, either
secretly or publicly, in any matter whatever. And, with respect to the
books which I, the above named Henne, have given to the library of
the convent, they are to remain there always, and in perpetuity, and
I the above-named Henne, purpose to give also, and without fraud, to
the said convent for its library, for the use of the nuns present and
future, for their religious services, whether in reading or singing,
or in whatever manner they may please to make use of them, according
to the rules of their order, the books which I, the above-named Henne,
have already printed up to the present hour, or that I may print in
future, so far as they shall be pleased to make use of them; and in
consideration of this, the above-mentioned Abbess and the nuns of the
said convent of St. Clair, have for themselves and their successors,
declared and promised, that they will absolve me and my heirs from the
claim which my sister Hebele had to 60 florins, which I and my brother
Friele had promised to pay and deliver to the said Hebele as her dower,
and as the share, coming from the estate of Henne our father, which
he assigned to her as her portion, in virtue of a certain instrument
drawn up for that purpose, without fraud or deceit. And in order that
this (agreement) may be held firmly and fully binding by us and by our
heirs, we have given to the said nuns, and to their convent and order,
the present letters sealed with our seals. Signed and delivered, the
year of the birth of J. C. 1459, on the day of St. Margaret.” (July 20).

To this document four seals were attached inscribed--

  _S: hans genszfleisch vo Sorgeloch
   S: friele genszfleisch vo......loch
   S: hen............sch vo Sulgeloch
      frile genszfleisch._

Contradicting, as this agreement does, the views held by Mr. Ottley, he
says, “I confess I have great doubts of its genuineness, though perhaps
they are ill-founded.” M. Ph. Berjeau,[79] in his introduction to Mr.
Ottley’s work asserts that it is a forgery; and on the authority of
M. de Laborde says, “that Bodman, the Archivist of Mentz, bothered by
Oberlin, Fischer, and all the bibliographers of his time, who wanted
him to discover some new information about Gutenberg, thought it worth
his while to forge two documents, which just helped them to fill the
two gaps which occur in his history, one from 1420 to 1430, the other
from 1455 to 1460.” The other document referred to by M. de Laborde is
that already given in the note on pages 71 and 72.

But it has already been shewn from contemporary authorities in Italy
and France, that Gutenberg was known in those countries to be still
printing at Mentz in 1458. The motive imputed to M. Bodman as an
inducement to the criminal act charged against him by MM. Laborde
and Berjeau, cannot therefore be correct. Writers on both sides, in
their eagerness to confute their opponents, are much too apt to cry
out “forgery!” when documents are quoted which are fatal to their
pre-conceived views. There is however one point in this agreement which
needs explanation.

A certain Henne (John) Gensefleisch is referred to as the father of the
brothers John and Friele. But it is well known that their father’s name
was Frielo, and not Henne. How then is this discrepancy to be accounted
for? Even supposing that M. Bodman was tempted to forge a document
like the one in question, he would surely not have so worded it that
it should bear upon its face the proof of its falsity. The property to
which Hebele the nun was entitled, and the reclamation of which the two
brothers and the three cousins renounced, must have been a portion of
the ancestral patrimony, to a share of which each member of the family
had a well defined claim. Now their common ancestor was a certain Henne
Gensefleisch, whose son Frielo was _Rathsherr_ or councillor of Mentz
in the year 1332, and played a very prominent part when the great
rising of the guilds against the patricians took place in that year.
The preservation of the patrimony of a family being an object in which
all its members were interested, no portion could be alienated without
the consent of all concerned. This frequently led to the female members
of a family being placed in convents, for which provision might be made
in the original entailment of the property. It also limited marriages
among the males; since forfeiture of his share of the patrimony was
one of the penalties inflicted upon any who married without the family
consent. There does not therefore appear to be any solid reason
for rejecting the document as spurious. Moreover, in a copy of the
“Tractatus de celebratione Missarum,” originally in the library of the
Chartreux of Mentz, and afterwards in the city library, M. Fischer the
curator discovered the following memorandum in Latin:--“The Chartreux
of Mentz possesses this book through the liberality of Johann called
Gutenberg, the production of his art, and the science of Johann
Nummeister, completed (_confecta_) on the 19th of the kalendar of July
in the year 1463.” So that it is plain that Gutenberg was printing in
that year; and this memorandum further proves, that he made presents
of his works to the ecclesiastical establishments of the city; a fact
which confirms, in that respect at least, the authenticity of the
previously cited agreement.

In 1465, the Elector Adolph appointed Gutenberg a gentleman of his
Court; and by a public decree, dated the 18th January, bestowed upon
him an annual grant of twenty “malters” of corn, two barrels of wine
for his household; and an official court suit; the honor was thus
by no means an empty one. He did not however long enjoy it. After an
active and eventful life, he died in the year 1468.[80] The exact date
of his decease is not recorded, nor are there any particulars known of
the circumstances attending his death. But that he was in possession of
a printing office up to the very last, is proved beyond doubt by the
following acknowledgment of the receipt of the materials by the Syndic

“I, Conrad Homery, doctor, make known by this letter that his Highness
my gracious and well-beloved Prince Adolph, Archbishop of Mayence, has
graciously caused to be delivered to me the ‘forms,’ characters, tools,
and other objects relating to printing, which Johann Gutenberg left at
his death, and which belonged to me, and belong to me still; but for
the honor and for the pleasure of his Highness, I have bound myself,
and am so bound by this letter, never to use them in any other place
than in Mayence; and moreover, only to sell them, in preference, to a
citizen of this place, who shall offer an equal price with any other.
In faith of which declaration, I have appended my seal to this present.
Given in the year 1468, the Friday after the festival of St. Matthew
(26th February.)”

Thus ended the life of JOHN GUTENBERG; the first maker of separable
metal TYPES; the inventor of the LETTER PRESS; the Founder of the

His remains were interred at the church in the convent of the
Franciscans near the house Zum Junghen, where, not long after, one
of his kinsmen erected a tablet, the inscription on which ran as

  D. O. M. S.



About forty years later, another tablet was set up at the house Zum
Gutenberg, in the inner court of the College of Lawyers, by Ives of
Witigen or Venza, doctor of laws, and professor of that University, on
which was the following inscription:--



The learned Wimpheling, his contemporary, also commemorated his memory
in the following eloquent epigram:--

  “Fœlix _Ansicare_, per te Germania fœlix,
     Omnibus in terris prœmia laudis habet.
   Urbe Moguntina, divino fulte Joannes
     Ingenio, primus imprimis aere notas.
   Multum relligio, multum tibi Græca Sophia
     Et multum debet lingua Latina tibi.”[81]

       *       *       *       *       *

The study of the life of such a man, who in his own person embodied,
in a pre-eminent degree, the leading characteristics of the Teutonic
race--Sense of Duty, Courage, Diligence, and Perseverance,--so ably
portrayed by Professor Max Müller in his oration at the German Festival
on the 1st of May 1871; is one of deep and abiding interest. His sense
of duty to his convictions was manifested in his boundless faith in
the ultimate success of his inventions; his courage was dauntless,--no
difficulties could deter him from following the path he was resolved
upon pursuing; his diligence was unwearied; his perseverance
indomitable. In spite of numerous failures, or what seemed such to men
less hopeful than himself, he constantly attracted new friends and
supporters, as old ones fell away. Losses, lawsuits and ingratitude
dogged each step of his career; but he triumphed over every difficulty;
saw the Art he had invented become the means of bringing fortunes to
men who had at different times been his associates and opponents; and
died esteemed and honored by the sovereign of his native city. Well
did he realize the truth of the inspired proverb of the Royal Hebrew
sage,--“Seest thou a man diligent in his business, he shall stand
before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.”

Great and noble by nature, his fame as an original inventor has always
stood deservedly high; but should the hypothesis of Mr. Holt be
established as a fact by the production of further evidence, his fame
henceforth will stand much higher than it has hitherto done. The genius
with which he was gifted will, in such case, prove to be of the same
order as that which first led to the representation in visible symbols
of the sound of spoken thoughts; and the pinnacle of glory on which
the memory of his name is raised for the admiration of posterity must
be elevated to the same level as that of the yet unknown but divinely
inspired originator of the immortal art of writing.

Not less interesting than the study of the life of Gutenberg, is
the contemplation of the effects which the Art he invented almost
immediately produced. These can scarcely be more eloquently or
succinctly stated, than in the words of the distinguished historian
Sir EDWARD S. CREASY, Chief Justice of Ceylon. After speaking of the
excitement occasioned throughout Europe by the maritime discoveries
of the Portuguese, and other causes of intellectual movements in the
Fifteenth century, he adds:--“Still more strongly was the advancement
of intellectual activity aided during the last half of the fifteenth
century, by the discovery and rapid progress of the art of printing.
The power of swiftly and cheaply multiplying copies of a book, in a
more conveniently transmissible, and a more easily legible form, than
that of the best manuscript, gave now to an author an increase of
mental and moral authority over his fellow men, somewhat resembling
the increase in importance, and the extension of operations, which
the steam engine has in our age given to invention in mechanics and
manufactures. The circulation of printed books created hosts of
readers, who otherwise would have remained ignorant of any kind of
literature, ancient or modern. It gave an immeasurable increase to
the weight of public opinion. It stimulated discovery. It promoted
discussion. It made the suppression of opinion difficult, and
generally impossible. It shook to the very base every institution that
was founded on fraud, or upheld by unjust force. It gave also weapons
to those who seek violent changes merely from the love of innovation
and violence. Among the numerous causes which co-operated in giving
European history the altered character which we discover in it during
and after the close of the fifteenth century, none have been more
operative than the invention of moveable types.”[82] [combined, we take
the liberty of adding, with the invention of the printing press.]


[32] Variously named in contemporary documents, Johannes Gutenberg;
Johannes de Moguntia, dictus Gutenberg; Johannes dictus Gensefleisch,
junior, dictus Gutenberg; Johannes Gansefleisch, dictus Sulgeloch vel
Sorgenloch; Henne Gensfleisch, genant Sulgeloch; Hans Genzefleisch von
Mentz, genant Gutenberg. In English _Gansefleisch_ would be written
_Gooseflesh_; in Latin, _Ansicarus_.

[33] MEERMAN, and a few other writers, make mention of two John
Gutenbergs, brothers, both of whom are spoken of as inventors of
Typography; the elder, known as John Gansfleisch, dying, so it is
stated, in 1462. The reason of this seems to be, that some one was
wanted to fill the position of the thief, who, according to the tale of
Junius, stole from Janssoen, the Coster of Haarlem, the moveable types
he had recently invented. As John Gutenberg, junior, could not be fixed
upon, and there was no other method of bringing discredit upon his
claim, and as the alleged thief was a John somebody, John Gansfleisch,
senior, assumed to be _elder brother_ to John junior, was thought
of; and from him, it is asserted, the younger brother obtained his
knowledge of the art of printing. The authority on which Meerman relied
appears to be a document first published by Köhler (_Ehrenrettung
Guttenberg’s_), in which it is stated, that in 1443 John Gansfleisch
the elder hired a house at Mentz, his birthplace. Santander says, the
phrase was used because John Gutenberg’s _uncle_ having died about this
time, he had in reality become the elder. Later writers agree with
Santander that the elder Gansfleisch here referred to was an uncle
to Gutenberg junior, but they do not admit his death at this time.
Being named after him, he was probably his _godfather_, and may have
been living with him in Strasburg in 1443. It was to his house that
Gutenberg junior went, on his return to Mentz.

[34] “To the worthy nun Bertha, in the Convent of St. Clair, at Mentz,
health and fraternal good wishes. My dear sister, with respect to what
you say of the rents and money which were left to you by our brother
Conrad, whom God bless, by his last will; that often and for a long
time past, they have not been paid to you, and that they are still
owing to you, and amount as you say to a considerable sum; I have to
inform you, that, upon giving a receipt, you may receive the sum of
twenty florins (of gold) out of my rents and revenues, coming as you
know, from Mentz, and other places; by applying to Joh. Dringelter,
the wax chandler; Veronica Mystersen, at Seilhoven; or at Mentz,
and various other places, of which Pedirman can inform you; as at
Lorzwiller, Bodenheim, and Murminheym. I purpose, if it please God, to
have the pleasure of seeing you before long, and to arrange the matter
with Pedirman, so that your property may be promptly delivered to you,
according to the terms and intention of the will. I await your answer
upon this subject. Given at Strasburg; feriâ quintâ post dominicam (the
24th March) M.CCCC.XX.IIII.”

  (Signed) “HENNE GENSFLEISCH, called Sulgeloch.”

--_Santander_, from Oberlin’s “Essai d’Annales de la Vie de J.
Gutenberg,” pp. 3, 4.

[35] Linseed oil, rosins, shellac, pitch, mundick, varnishes, nutgalls,
turpentine, and vitriol, were made use of by the early printers in
manufacturing their ink. In applying it, a small quantity was first
taken up on a pair of balls or dabbers made of sheepskins padded with
wool; these were then well beaten together until finely and evenly
covered, after which they were beaten on the types until the pages were
considered sufficiently inked.

[36] _Typographia_: An Historical sketch of the Origin and Progress of
the Art of Printing. By T. C. HANSARD, 1825. 8vo. 1000 pp.

[37] _The Press_: a Poem; by JOHN M‘CREERY. The original edition,
printed by the author, was beautifully illustrated with wood engravings
by Mr. Hole, a pupil of the Bewicks. Mr. M‘Creery’s establishment was
celebrated for the excellence of its printing.

[38] “Life and Typography of William Caxton.” vol. ii. p. xlv.

[39] “Inquiry concerning the Invention of Printing.” p. 254.

[40] These occur in what is known as the fourth edition, of which only
three copies exist, two in Haarlem, and one in Lille. It is in the
copy at Lille that a leaf is printed on both sides. Mr. Humphreys,
in his noble work,--the greatest boon ever conferred in any age or
country on students of early Typography,--says, (p. 63) this leaf has
“an appearance of being printed on both sides, from the existence of
a strong set off.” But if the lines of the supposed ‘set-off’ read
in the usual way, they must have been set-off from a set-off, or
the impression would appear reversed. Most probably the back of the
original impression was printed on by an accidental oversight.

[41] “The Old Printer and the Modern Press.” p. 102. _London_, 1854.

[42] Other witnesses also deposed to purchases, and in the judgment
given on the suit, some of these are referred to as having been of

[43] The documents containing an account of the trial, and the sentence
of the magistrates of Strasburg, are dated December 1439. They were
originally published with a Latin version, by Schöpflin, in his
_Vindiciæ Typographicæ_, 1760, and have since been repeatedly printed
with French, English and Dutch translations.

[44] In his “Dissertation sur l’Origine, l’Invention, et le
Perfectionnement de l’Imprimerie,” printed at Amsterdam in 1819.
This work was the one which obtained the prize offered by the Dutch
Society of Arts and Sciences at Haarlem, about the year 1814, for the
best Dissertation in support of the ancient tradition that the Art of
Printing was invented in that city.

[45] In certain parts of the north of Scotland augers and high-pitched
screws are to this day called ‘wommels’ or ‘wombels,’ by old folk. The
word is no doubt the same as the antiquated German ‘wurbel.’


  “Quid, si nunc justos, aeris ratione reducta,
     Tentarem libros cudere mille modis?
   Robora prospexit dehinc _torcularia_ Bacchi,
     Et dixit, preli forma sit ista novi.”

                       _Encomion Chalcographiæ_, v.v. 65-69.

[47] KŒNIG’S cylinder machine, erected for Mr. BENSLEY the eminent
printer, and first set in operation in April 1811, at the manufactory
in Whitecross-street, London; when it printed 3000 sheets of the
_Annual Register_, to the admiration of all who saw it at work.

[48] “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and
that which is done, is that which shall be done; and there is no
new thing under the sun. Is there anything whereof it may be said,
See, this is new? it hath been already of old time which was before
us.”--_Ecclesiastes_, i. 9, 10. Some days subsequent to that on which
I had printed the description of the process, which, after a careful
examination of Mr. Humphreys’ fac-simile, I felt convinced was the one
which had been adopted for taking impressions of the moveable types
used in the _Speculum Humanæ Salvationis_, I received an illustrated
advertisement sheet of Francis Donnison and Son, Printers’ Engineers
of Newcastle-on-Tyne, in which is an engraving of an “Improved Galley
Proof Press,” which exactly realises the idea I attempted to convey to
my readers on pages 83 and 84.

[49] “The Pilgrims of the Rhine,” by BULWER, (Lord LYTTON), p. 313.

[50] “Wimpheling, one of the most learned men of his time, who narrowly
escaped persecution for the Protestant tendency of his writings, and
who among other things which proved him to have been a thinker in
advance of his time, founded a literary society at Strasburg, which
soon became celebrated, and the tendencies of which were afterwards
praised even by the critical Erasmus.”--HUMPHREYS, p. 82.

[51] “De l’Origine de l’Imprimerie.” _Paris_, 1853.

[52] “Kritische Geschichte der Erfindung der Buchdruckerkunst durch
Johann Gutenberg zu Mainz.” von J. WETTER. _Mainz_, 1836. 8vo. pp. xvi.
808, with 13 Tables of fac-similes.

[53] “Characteres enim a primus illis inventoribus non ita eleganter
et expedite, ut a nostris fieri solet, sed _filo in litterarum foramen
immisso_, connectebantur, sicut Venetiis id genus typos me vidisse

[54] The family of the Fusts was one of great respectability. It
consisted at this time of three brothers; John the banker and
money-lender; James, the city architect, and subsequently a goldsmith
as well; and Nicholas, a judge in one of the Courts of law. John
married his wife Margaret about the year 1420; one son, Conrad, was the
only issue of the marriage. Conrad married in 1445, and his daughter,
Christina, was, in 1465, bestowed in marriage upon Peter Schœffer of
Gernszheim. It appears from some accounts that John Faust was also a
goldsmith; a business with which banking and money-lending were usually

[55] There is another version of the circumstances attending the
connection of Gutenberg with Faust. Gutenberg senior, say the claimants
of the honor of the invention for the first printer at Strasburg,
returned to Mentz in 1440, having stolen the knowledge of the art from
Mentelin, their countryman, who they assert was the original inventor.
Dutch authorities however say, that Gutenberg’s return to Mentz, in
1440, was after he stole the types, &c., from Coster, the original
inventor at Haarlem. Like Sir Boyle Roche’s bird, he was thus in two
places at one and the same time. After his return he printed, in 1442,
the two school-books ‘Alexandri Galli Doctrinale,’ and ‘Petri Hispani
Tractatus,’ and then, in 1443, took the house ‘Zum Jungen,’ when he was
joined in partnership by Faust, J. Meidenbachius, J. Petersheimius, and
others, whose names have not been recorded, and in 1444 by Gutenberg
junior, who then quitted Strasburg for that express purpose. That in
1450 this partnership was dissolved, when Faust and Gutenberg junior
entered into a new partnership, the senior being no longer heard of.
These statements are at best but conjectural, and have been made with
the view of affording support to the systems of writers who deny to
Gutenberg the honor of having invented the Typographic Art.

The quotations in the text are from the record of legal proceedings
taken by Faust against Gutenberg in 1455. This record was printed in
German by SECKENBURG in “Selectis Juris et Historiarum,” tom. i. pp.
269-277; by WOLFIUS, in his “Monumenta Typographica,” tom. i. p. 472
_et seq._, and by WETTER, pp. 284-290.

[56] Trithemius derived his information direct from Schœffer the
[grand] son-in-law of Faust; but did not write his chronicle until
thirty years after. The work usually referred to as the Catholicon, is
one of some magnitude. It was written by the monk John Balbi, or John
of Genoa, and consists of a Latin Grammar followed by a Vocabulary.
Gutenberg probably printed only the latter portion, and perhaps but an
abridgment of that. As the earliest production of his press, after his
connection with Faust, a copy would now be of immense value; but as is
the case with the _Tracts_ of Peter of Spain, no bibliographer has yet
had the good fortune to identify it, and possibly it may have passed
out of existence. There is no reason however to doubt the correctness
of the Abbot’s statement on that account. There can be no question
but that multitudes of works, issued from the presses of the early
printers, have been utterly destroyed. It is marvellous that so many
single, unique copies, have been preserved to the present time.

[57] These have been fully described by Fischer, Van Praet, Wetter,
Leon de Laborde, and other writers.

[58] See _post_ for Zell’s account in full.

[59] The entry at the end of the first volume is--“Et sic est finis
prime partis biblia Scz. veteris testamenti, Illuminata seu rubricata
& ligata per Henricum Albch alias cremer. Anno dni M^oCCCC^oLVI festo
Bartholomei apli--Deo gratias--Alleluja.” That on the end of the second
volume:--“Iste liber illuminatus, ligatus & completus est per Henricum
cremer vicariū ecclesie collegiate sancti Stephani maguntini sub anno
dni Millesimo quatringentisimo quinquagesimo sexto, festo Assumptionis
gloriose virginis Marie, Deo gracias. Alleluja, &c.”

[60] With the exception of the first ten or eleven pages, which contain
but forty or forty-one lines in each column.

[61] The doubt was not only natural, but there is an almost absolute
certainty that the letters could not have been cast at the time.
Schœffer’s invention of cast fusile types did not take place,--or
at any rate was not made use of,--until after the lawsuit between
Gutenberg and Faust.

[62] HUMPHREYS, p. 84.

[63] “Post hæc inventis successerunt subtiliora, inveneruntque modum
fundendi formas omnium latini alphabeti litterarum, quas ipsi matrices
nominabant ex quibus rursum aeneos sive stanneos caracteres fundebant,
ad omnem pressuram sufficientes, quas prius manibus sculpebant.
Et revera sicuti ante XXX. ferme annos ex ore Petri Opilionis de
Gernsheim, civis moguntini qui gener erat primi artis inventoris,
audivi, magnam a primo inventionis suæ hæc ars impressoria habuit
difficultatem. Impressuri namque Bibliam, priusquam tertium complessent
in opere quaternionem, plusquam 4000 florenorum exposuerunt.”

[64] This statement no doubt included Gutenberg’s personal outlay, in
addition to the moneys advanced by Faust.

[65] “Most of the punch-cutters at present belonging to the
type-founding trade are English, and their earnings depend in a great
measure upon the abilities they display in the work. A first-rate
cutter will earn from £5. to £6. weekly, and even more. ‘When I first
came to the trade,’ said a man to Mr. Mayhew, ‘the punch-maker who
worked for my old master, had £5. a week for producing two punches a
day. This was all he was expected to do for his wages; but for every
punch he turned out over and above that number he had his regular
premiums.’”--MAYHEW’S _Trades and Manufactories of Great Britain_, p.

[66] “I shall use my best endeavours to detect and expose false or
exaggerated statements and deceitful arguments, come from whom they
may; leaving such good proofs and reasonable grounds of belief, on the
one side or the other as may then remain, to be incorporated afterwards
with such further proofs as have resulted from my own researches.
Lastly ... I shall strive to merit the praise of not overstating the
evidence one way or the other, and of not pressing an argument further
than it will fairly go; it being my sole object to come if possible, at
the truth, in this long disputed question.”--_Inquiry concerning the
Invention of Printing_, p. 5.

[67] _Inquiry_, pp. 49-51.

[68] In a book of notes, left with one Gerlach, and afterwards
purchased by Johan Rot, the brother in all probability of Berthold Rot,
the first printer at Basle, there occurs the following memorandum,
in Schœffer’s own handwriting:--“Hic est finis omnium librorum tam
veteris quam nove logice, completi per me Petrum de Gernszheim,
alias Moguncia, anno M.CCCC.XLIX, in gloriosissima Universitate
Parisiensi.”--(HUMPHREYS, p. 84.) His name, variously spelt as
Schöffer, Schœffer, Schoiffer, and Schoiffher, and signifying in
English, _Shepherd_, is sometimes printed in its Latin form, _Opilio_.

[69] “Petrus autem memoratus Opilio ... homo ingeniosus et prudens,
faciliorem modum fundendi caracteres excogitavit, et artem ut nunc est

[70] “John Schœffer says, at the conclusion of the _Historia
Francorum_, printed in 1515, that the inventor did indeed commence the
art of printing in 1450; but did not perfect and bring it to the stage
when the use of the press was required until 1452.”--_vide_ WETTER, p.
350. Referring the date 1450 to the original contract with Faust, this
statement shews that at least two years, possibly nearly three, were
spent in the preparatory arrangements, casting and cutting the letters,
&c. before a single page of the Latin Bible was printed.

[71] Letters made of copper or tin alone would scarcely be hard enough
to use as punches, except for plaster moulds; but a mixture of metals
forming brass, of which several writers say the first cut metal types
were made, would answer the purpose, and could be struck into blocks
of soft copper or tin without the slightest difficulty. At a pinch,
however, Benjamin Franklin has shewn that even with ordinary types,
matrices of lead can be made and used with success: “Our printing
house,” he writes, “often wanted sorts, and there was no letter-foundry
in America; I had seen types cast at James’s in London, but without
much of attention to the manner; however, I contrived a mould, and made
use of the letters we had as puncheons, struck the matrices in lead,
and thus supplied in a pretty tolerable way the deficiencies.”

[72] The word _fount_, here used to indicate a complete set of types,
was originally _fund_, and signified a casting or founding of type.
Hence also the terms founder and foundry, derived, like the former,
from the Latin _fundo_.

[73] This Faust, whose ancestors came from Mentz, was a son of the
councillor and judge of the imperial tribunal at Frankfort, who died
in 1619. Writing from family papers and traditions, J. F. Faust
(inheriting the jealousy against Gutenberg which was engendered by
the lawsuit, his opposite politics, and the honours bestowed upon
him by the Elector-Archbishop) attributes the origin of Typography
to Faust of Mentz, but admits that Gutenberg was his assistant. With
the exception of this change of persons, the account he gives of the
origin of the art accords in its main facts with the statements made by
Trithemius, Zell, Wimpheling, Arnold de Bergel, and other early writers
on the subject. He mentions the block Alphabet and Donatus, and the
separate wooden types made by cutting the engraved tablets into single
letters,--which were all for a long time preserved in Faust’s house at
Mentz; where his grandfather Dr. Johan Faust, had seen them. This Dr.
Faust also left with the family a written description of these first
beginnings of the art. J. F. Faust’s account, taken from WETTER, with
some remarks by that author, will be found in the Appendix.

[74] Various metals were used in the manufacture of types. Mr. BLADES,
at pages xx. and xxiv. of his second volume of the _Life and Typography
of Caxton_, gives extracts from the “Cost Book” of the Directors of
the Ripoli Press at Florence, 1474-1483, a document still extant in
the Magliabechi library at Florence, and printed in the “Notizie
Storiche sopra la Stamperia di Ripoli, la quali possono servire
all’ illustrazione della Storia Tipografica Fiorentina. Raccolta e
pubblicate dal P. Vincezio Fineschi. 8vo. In Firenze MDCCLXXXI.” From
this it seems that for the steel required (probably for punches) the
price paid per lb. was equivalent to 9_s._ of present current money;
for metal (not otherwise described) 2_s._ 0¾_d._; brass, 2_s._
3_d._; copper, 1_s._ 3_d._; tin, 1_s._ 6_d._; lead, 5¼_d._; and iron
wire, 1_s._ 6_d._

[75] Eight great inventions may be enumerated in the history of
Typography. These are, first, the block books; second, the separable
types; third, the printing-press; fourth, type-founding; fifth,
stereotyping, (taking plaster moulds of whole pages of type, and
from them castings in solid metal plates); sixth, composition inking
rollers; seventh, cylindrical printing machines, to be worked by
steam-power; and eighth, steam type-setting machines. As the four last
are of modern date, they do not come within the scope of the present

[76] That Gutenberg considered himself an injured man is clear from
statements which occur in both J. F. FAUST’S and ARNOLD DE BERGEL’S
accounts. The former states that Gutenberg was greatly angered by
the lawsuit, and not only refused to be present at the close of
the proceedings, but afterwards left Mentz for Strasburg, where he
established a printing office of his own. This is not exactly correct;
but as it shews the belief that existed in the Faust family, it is
probable that he may have supplied Mentelin, the first printer there,
with types and material to commence with. Bergel states, that when the
originator of the contract (Faust) began to see some hopes of gain, he
raised a discord which led to a rupture: that Gutenberg protested the
strife was unjust, but the upshot was a separation, each one trusting
to himself and his own press. The following lines shew this, and hint
also at the belief that the tribunal before which the lawsuit was
tried, was under influences adverse to Gutenberg; the old grudge of
Burgher _versus_ Noble, still making itself manifest.

  “Hic dum cernebant raras procedere merces,
     Sanxerunt dextris foedera pacta suis:
   Quæ Deus, aut fortuna dabit, communia sunto,
     Æqualis nostrum sitque laboris onus.
   Foedera sed lucri raro concordia nutrit,
     Indiga sunt pacis dissidioque patent.
   Sit postquam autores quæstus spes cepit habendi,
     Ad lites vertunt pectora capta leves.
   In partes abeunt, sinceraque pacta resolvunt,
     Et promissa cadunt, irrita fitque fides;
   Cuilibet ut propriis serviret pergula prelis,
     Et sibi multijugas quisque pararet opes.
   Non tulit injustas mens Gutenbergica rixas,
     Testatur Superos foedera rupta Deos.
   Caussa fori tandem pavidi defertur ad ora;
     Scribitur ac illis dica nefanda fori.
   Tempore sed longo res est tractata dicaci
     Lite, hodie pendet judicis inque sinu.”

                     _Encomion Chalcographiæ_, v.v. 245-263.

[77] The division of the plant seems to have been made with judicial
fairness. A portion of the original implements or utensils were
assigned to Faust, and according to the testimony of J. F. Faust of
Aschaffenberg, they remained for a length of time in the possession of
the family (see note, p. 167). Bergel, or Bergellanus, who published
his _Encomion Chalcographiæ_ in 1541, and was for fifteen years a
corrector of the press in a printing establishment at Mentz, states,
in the Dedication of his work to the Archbishop Albert of Brandenberg,
that “several very old instruments were seen by him at Mentz, which
the citizens informed him had been used by Gutenberg in the art;” from
which it may be inferred, that they were either preserved among the
muniments of the city, or by some of Gutenberg’s family connections.

[78] Also spelt Hombracht, and Hoemborch.

[79] Author of “Speculum Humanæ Salvationis. Le plus ancien Monument de
la Xylographie et de la Typographie réunis reproduits en fac-simile,
avec Introduction Historique et Bibliographique.” Londres, 1861. fol.

[80] Authorities differ in respect to Gutenberg’s age, the year of
his birth not having been precisely ascertained. It is broadly stated
by WETTER, that he was born between the years 1393 and 1400. He must
therefore have been at least 68 years of age, and he may have been 75,
at the time of his death.

[81] Published at Heidelberg in 1499.

[82] _History of England_, vol. ii. pp. 526-7.

Early Typography.



Clear and convincing as the evidence appears to be, that the Art of
Typography originated in Germany, and that the honor claimed for
Gutenberg as its inventor is rightly his; both positions are stoutly
contested by the Dutch, who assert that the Art originated at Haarlem,
and was the invention of one Laurence Janssoen, the Coster or Sacristan
of the great church of that city, who according to some of their
writers, was not only the first engraver of block-books, and cutter
of separable letters, but also the first who cast fusile metal types.
It is necessary therefore, before proceeding further, to examine the
grounds upon which these assertions are based, and to ascertain what
amount of truth they contain.

The claim on behalf of Haarlem was first made by Jan Van Zuyren,
(_b._ 1517; _d._ 1591), between the years 1549 and 1561,--(upwards of
a century, at least, after the appearance of the first printed book
in Germany),--in “A Dialogue on the first Invention of the Art of
Typography,” of which only a part of the Dedicatory Preface remains. In
this fragment, reprinted by Scriverius, the writer says:--

“It is from the love of my country alone, that I undertake this work,
and that I institute further inquiries upon the subject of it; as I
cannot consent that our claims to a portion of this glory;--claims
which are even at this day fresh in the remembrance of our fathers, to
whom, so to express myself, they have been transmitted from hand to
hand from their ancestors, should be effaced from the memory of men,
and be buried in eternal oblivion; claims of which it is our duty to
preserve the memorial, for the benefit of our latest posterity.

“The city of Mentz, without doubt, merits great praise, _for having
been the first to produce and publish to the world in a becoming garb_,
an invention which she had received from us; _for having perfected and
embellished an art as yet rude and unformed_. Who indeed, (although
it be less difficult to add to an invention already made, than to
originate a new one) would withhold the praises and honor due to a
city, to which all the world considers itself in a particular manner
indebted for so great a benefit?

“For the rest, excellent Sir, you may consider it as certain that the
foundations of this splendid art were laid in our city of Haarlem,
rudely, indeed, but still the first. Here (be it understood without
offence to the people of Mentz) the art of Typography was born and saw
the light, with all her members formed, so that she might hereafter
increase in strength and stature. Here, she for a long time received
the treatment and the cares, which it is customary to use towards
tender infancy, and for a long series of years was confined within the
walls of a private dwelling house, which, though somewhat dilapidated,
is still standing; _but which has long since been despoiled of its
precious contents_. The art of printing, indeed, was here brought
up, nourished, and maintained at small expense, and with too great
parsimony; until at length, despising the poor and confined appearance
of her humble abode, she became the companion of a certain stranger,
and leaving behind her native meanness, shewed herself publicly at
Mentz, where after having become enriched, she in a short time rose to

Theodore Volckart Coornhert, an engraver, having in company with Van
Zuyren established a printing office in Haarlem, published on the year
1561, a Dutch translation of Cicero’s Offices. In the Dedication of
this work to the Burgomasters, Judges, and Senators of the city, he

“Most honorable and revered Sirs; it has often been related to me, bonâ
fide, that the most useful art of Typography was originally invented
in our city of Haarlem, although in a somewhat rude manner; for it is
easier to perfect by degrees an art already discovered, than to invent
a new one. This art, having been afterwards carried to Mentz by an
unfaithful servant, _was there perfected_, and as it was also _first
promulgated there_, that city has so generally acquired the reputation
of having first invented it, that our citizens can obtain but little
credence, when they assert themselves to have been the real inventors;
a fact generally believed by the greater number of them, and especially
considered as undoubted by our most ancient citizens. I am aware,
that in consequence of the blameable neglect of our ancestors, the
common opinion that this art was invented at Mentz, is now so firmly
established, that it is in vain to hope to change it, even by the best
evidence, and the most irrefragable proof. But truth does not cease to
be truth, because it is known only to a few; and I for my part, believe
this to be most certain; convinced as I am, by the faithful testimonies
of men, alike respectable from their age and authority; who not only
have often told me of the family of the inventor, and of his name and
surname; but have even described to me the rude manner of printing
first used, and pointed out to me with their fingers the abode of the
first printer. And therefore, not because I am jealous of the glory of
others, but because I love truth, and desire to pay that tribute to the
honor of our city which is justly her due, I have thought it incumbent
upon me to mention these things.”

In 1567, Ludovico Guicciardini printed at Antwerp, a description of
the Low Countries. The work was in Italian, and writing of Haarlem, he

“According to the common tradition of the inhabitants, and the
assertion of the other natives of Holland, as well as the testimony of
certain authors and other records, it appears that the art of printing
and stamping letters and characters on paper, in the manner now used,
was first invented in this place. But the author of the invention
happening to die, before the art was brought to perfection and had
acquired repute, his servant, they say, went to reside at Mentz;
where, giving proof of his knowledge in that science, he was joyfully
received; and where, he having applied himself to the business with
unremitting diligence, it was brought to entire perfection, and became
at length generally known, in consequence of which, the fame afterwards
spread abroad and became general, that the art and science of printing
originated in that city. What the truth really is, I am not able, nor
will I take upon me, to decide; it sufficing me to have said these
few words, that I might not be guilty of injustice to this town and

Eytzinger, in his work on the topography of the Low Countries, printed
in 1583, and Braunius of Cologne, in his _Civitates Orbis Terrarum_,
printed in 1570-1588, assign to Haarlem the origin of the art. These
authors had before them the statement already quoted from Coornhert,
as well as that of Ulric Zell, which says that Block-book Donatuses
were originally printed in Holland; and they assume that to be a fact
which Guicciardini will go no further than to repeat as a tradition,
for the truthfulness of which he will not vouch.

We now come to the account given by Hadrian Junius,[84] in his work
entitled _Batavia_, printed in 1588, thirteen years after his death.

This account[85] is supposed, from the context, to have been written in
the year 1568, and in it the name of Coster appears for the first time.

“About a hundred and twenty eight years ago,” he says, “Laurentius
Janssoen Coster inhabited a decent and fashionable house in the city of
Haarlem, situated in the market place opposite the royal palace. The
name of Coster was assumed, and inherited from his ancestors, who had
long enjoyed the honorable and lucrative office of Coster or Sexton
to the church. This man deserves to be restored to the honor of being
the first inventor of printing, of which he has been unjustly deprived
by others, who have enjoyed the praises due to him alone. As he was
walking in the wood contiguous to the city, which was the general
custom of the richer citizens and men of leisure, in the afternoon
and on holidays he began at first to cut some letters upon the rind
of a beech tree; which for fancy’s sake, being impressed on paper, he
printed one or two lines as a specimen for his grand-children (the
sons of his daughter) to follow. This having happily succeeded, he
meditated greater things (as he was a man of ingenuity and judgment);
and first of all with his son-in-law Thomas Peter (who by the way left
three sons, who all attained the consular dignity), invented a more
glutinous writing ink, because he found the common ink sunk and spread;
and then formed whole pages of wood, with letters cut upon them;--of
which sort I have seen some essays in an anonymous work, printed
only on one side, entitled _Speculum nostræ salutis_: in which it is
remarkable, that in the infancy of printing (as nothing is complete at
its first invention), the back sides of the pages were pasted together,
that they might not by their nakedness betray their deformity.--These
beechen letters he afterwards changed for leaden ones, and these again
for a mixture of tin and lead, as a less flexible and more solid and
durable substance. Of the remains of which types, when they were
turned to waste metal, those old wine-pots were cast, that are still
preserved in the family house which looks into the market-place,
inhabited afterwards by his great-grandson Gerard Thomas, a gentleman
of reputation, whom I mention for the honor of the family, and who died
a few years since. A new invention never fails to engage curiosity. And
when a commodity never before seen excited purchasers, to the advantage
of the inventor, the admiration of the art increased, dependents were
enlarged, and workmen multiplied; the first calamitous incident! Among
these was one John. Whether, as we suspect, he had ominously the name
of Faustus--unfaithful and unlucky to his master,--or whether he
was really a person of that name, I shall not much inquire; being
unwilling to molest the silent shades, who suffer from a consciousness
of their past actions in this life. This man, bound by oath to keep the
secret of printing, when he thought he had learned the art of joining
the letters, the method of casting the types, and other things of that
nature, taking the most convenient time that was possible, on Christmas
eve, when every one was customarily employed in lustral sacrifices,
_seizes the collection of types, and all the implements his master had
got together_, and, with one accomplice, marches off to Amsterdam,
thence to Cologne, and at last settled at Mentz, as at an asylum of
security, where he might go to work with the tools he had stolen. It
is certain that in a year’s time, viz. in 1442, the _Doctrinale_ of
Alexander Gallus, which was a grammar much used at that time, together
with the _Tracts_ of Peter of Spain, came forth there, from the same
types as Laurentius had made use of at Haarlem. These were the first
products of his press. These are the principal circumstances that I
have collected from credible persons, far advanced in years, which they
have transmitted like a flaming torch from hand to hand. I have also
met with others who have confirmed the same.”[86]

Junius’s principal informant was, he says, his tutor, Nicholas Galius,
an old gentlemen of very tenacious memory, who related that when a boy,
he “had often heard one Cornelius, a bookbinder (then upwards of eighty
years of age, who had when a youth, assisted at the printing office
of Coster), describe with great earnestness the numerous trials and
experiments made by his master in the infancy of the invention. When
he came to that part of his narrative touching the robbery, he would
burst into tears, and curse with the greatest vehemence those nights
in which he had slept with so vile a miscreant, declaring that were
he still alive, he could with pleasure execute the thief with his own
hands.” Junius states, that he received a similar account from Quirinus
Talesius, the Burgomaster, who asserted that it was recited to him by
the said Cornelius: the latter died in 1515.[87]

Of Laurent Janssoen Coster, it seems to be satisfactorily proved,
that he belonged to the most distinguished and wealthy class of
the inhabitants of the city. He was born, it is supposed, about
1370, or 1371; and notices of him appear in official records as an
officer of the city guard, a member of the great council, sheriff,
sheriff-president, and treasurer, from 1417 to 1434. From the
treasurer’s accounts he seems to have enjoyed a rent-charge upon the
city from 1422 to 1435. In 1440 an entry is made of the payment of a
similar charge to one “Ymme, widow of Laurent Janssoen”; and as Haarlem
was visited by a contagious malady in 1439, the probability is that
Laurent was one of its victims. Of his family the following particulars
have been handed down. His daughter Lucetta married Thomas the son of
Pieter; and bore him two daughters and three sons, Pieter, André and
Thomas, all of whom filled important public office. Pieter the son of
Thomas, had a son called Thomas the son of Pieter, whose son Gerard,
died before Junius wrote his work. The last descendant of the family
was William the son of Cornelius Kroon, who died the 24th March,

As the account inserted in Junius’s _Batavia_ is the groundwork upon
which all subsequent writers base their arguments in behalf of the
claims they advance for Coster, it behoves us to note how far it agrees
with the statements previously made by others.

It is alleged that Coster (1,) first cut letters on the bark of a beech
tree for his amusement; (2,) then, with letters so cut, he made words
and sentences for the instruction of his grand-children; after which he
(3,) invented, with the assistance of his son-in-law, a more glutinous
ink, whereupon he (4,) cut whole pages of letters on wood, and printed
them. He next (5,) made letters of lead, and pewter, to supersede those
of wood; (6,) becoming known as a printer, and a public demand arising
for his productions, he (7,) engaged numerous workmen, one of whom (8,)
stole all his materials, and carried them off to Mentz.

Neither Van Zuyren, nor Coornhert, give particulars on the first five
points, and in regard to the 6th and 7th, their statements are opposed
to those of Junius. They say the art, as invented at Haarlem, _was rude
and imperfect, and was not made public there_; and although Coornhert
says he had often been told of the family of the inventor, his name and
surname, of the rude manner of printing first used, and had even had
shewn to him the abode of the first printer; he neither gives his name
nor describes the method adopted. Guicciardini gives his statement, as
a matter of hearsay, for the truth of which he will not vouch; but in
it there is this difference from those of Van Zuyren and Coornhert,
that the author of the invention _happening to die before the art was
brought to perfection and had acquired repute_, his servant, they say,
went to reside at Mentz.

Here then are three writers, living at the same time with Junius, all
making inquiries upon the same subject, and deriving their information
from a common source, who differ from him on almost every point, and in
some of the most material plainly contradict him.

With reference to the 5th point, the invention of metal types,--whether
cut or cast Junius does not say,--Henry Spiegel, senator of Amsterdam
(_b._ 1549, _d._ 1612), states in his Dutch poem _Hertspiegel_.

“Thou first, Laurentius, to supply the defect of wooden tablets,
adoptedst wooden types, and afterwards didst connect them with a
thread, to imitate writing. A treacherous servant surreptitiously
obtained the honor of the discovery: but truth itself, though destitute
of common and wide spread fame, truth I say, still remains.”

This Spiegel was a personal friend of Coornhert, and it may be presumed
consulted him respecting Junius’s account of the origin of printing at
Haarlem. Of metal types he makes no mention; but if the traditions of
Haarlem at that time gave Laurentius the credit of their invention,
it is altogether unaccountable why Spiegel omitted so noteworthy a
circumstance. He probably rejected, on Coornhert’s authority, what
Junius had written on that part of the subject.

Junius’s story of the theft of Coster’s types and implements is
confused and contradictory. For supposing for a moment that Coster
was the printer of the _Mirror of Salvation_, and that the types were
made of pewter; if all that had been cast for printing, (at the most
not more than two pages at a time), had been carried away, together
with the punches, matrices, &c., how came the wine-pots, alleged to be
still in existence when Junius wrote, to be made of them when they
became waste metal? These wine-pots afford grounds for the assertion,
by later writers, that the art continued to be practised by the Coster
family _after_ the alleged theft; but that assertion is contradicted by
the statements elsewhere made. Of the theft itself there is no proof.
The records of the city have been searched in vain for evidence of any
such robbery. And the search has been equally fruitless for evidence
of any such invention. As to the latter, the wine-pots are the chief
witnesses. They were said to be kept in the house inhabited by Laurent
Coster’s great-grandson Gerard Thomas; they could be appealed to; but
what then? their evidence is not even as valuable as that adduced by
the school boy who claimed to be the carver of a certain piece of
wood-work, “and here,” said he, “is the very knife with which I did
it.” In the boy’s case it could at least be shewn, that the knife was
one with which the carving might have been executed; but it would be
utterly impossible to prove, without other and more reliable evidence
than the appearance of the pots themselves, that they had been the
original prototypes of the art of Typography. Meerman, however, insists
upon it that the Costers carried on the printing business at Haarlem
until about the year 1472, when a better method having been introduced
by disciples of the Mentz school, they sold off their stock and
retired. But all these allegations are based upon suppositions; there
is no proof whatever that such was the case: only, it is evident that
some such story must be contrived, in order to account for the pewter
wine-pots being manufactured out of the waste and worn-out types.
But then the part of the narrative of Junius where the wine-pots are
alluded to, does not tally with that other part, wherein it is stated
that the thief and his accomplice decamped with “the collection of
types, and _all_ the implements his master had got together.” For
Junius does not say, that Laurentius Janssoen Coster got together fresh
implements, and made new types; nor does he intimate that his family
did so after his decease. On the contrary, he speaks of the theft as
an irreparable loss, the thought of which made the old book-binder
Cornelius, curse with the greatest vehemence. This irascible garrulous
old man is the same who, when a boy, is said to have been employed
in Coster’s printing office, and who, when upwards of eighty years
old, told the story to Nicholas Galius the old gentlemen of tenacious
memory, who in his turn told it to his pupil Junius. It is plain that
the sole object of the original tellers of the story of the stranger,
servant, or thief, was to account for the otherwise inexplicable fact,
that the world was persuaded that printing originated at Mentz, instead
of, as the tradition-mongers would have it, at Haarlem.

It is singular that Van Zuyren and Coornhert make no mention of
Coster and the wine-pots. They had had the house pointed out to them,
where printing was said to have been invented and first practised
in private and in a very rude and imperfect form; and if that house
really belonged to the family of Laurent Janssoen, copies of the books
printed,--the old types themselves,--the original prototypes of the
art of Typography--ought surely to have been the pride and glory of
the house, rather than pewter wine-pots, a common enough article of
household furniture.

“But,” says Van Zuyren, “the house has _long since_ been despoiled
of its precious contents.” In his days then, and he is the earliest
writer on the subject, the wine-pots did not exist; or if they did, and
if they were known to be the re-shaped relics of the original metal
types, how is his ignorance of their existence to be accounted for? He
and Coornhert were both living and writing in the city at the same
time with Junius, with whom, as one of the learned literati of the
day, they could not but have been well acquainted, if not on intimate
and friendly terms. After a long absence, Junius returned to the city
where the others were born and bred, and where one of them, Van Zuyren,
filled the office of Scabinus from 1549 to 1561, when he was advanced
to the dignity of Burgomaster, (in which year his partner dedicated his
work to him and the other officials of the city). How then came Junius
alone to learn the history of Laurent Janssoen’s invention? and how is
Van Zuyren and Coornhert’s silence to be accounted for, in regard to
such important matters affecting Laurent the son of Jans, who filled
the lucrative office of Coster of the great church; who was member of
the great council, sheriff, sheriff-president, and finally treasurer of
the city;--whose portrait was engraved, (or supposed to have been),
along with those of Ouwater, Hemsen, Mandin, and Volkert, all eminent
Haarlemese painters of the fifteenth century;--and whose history must
have been well known to both, when they wrote, the one declaring “for
the love of his country alone,”--and the other, “not because I am
jealous of the glory of others, but because I love truth”? Where then
was the love of country and the love of truth, if they omitted, or
suppressed, the name of the man who invented the art, the glory of
which they “could not consent should be effaced from the memory of men,
and be buried in eternal oblivion; claims of which it is our duty to
preserve the memorial, for the benefit of our latest posterity”?

There can be no doubt but that considerations of this nature have led
older writers to express suspicions in regard to the authenticity of
Junius’s narrative, and to believe that his manuscript was tampered
with between the time of his death, and the publication of the work in
which it appears; as well as to induce “_misgivings_” in the minds of
learned Dutchmen of the present day “as to the ultimate result of full
inquiry into the subject.”[89]

Admitting with the writers on the Haarlem side, that the Coster family
was one of wealth and influence, how comes it, on the one hand, that
the thief who stole the types and implements was not pursued, exposed
and punished? or at any rate stripped of his stolen plumes, when so
early as 1457 works were published in Mentz by printers who ascribed
the whole merit of the invention to themselves?--and on the other,
that having replaced the stolen types and other implements by new
ones, and continuing to print until 1472, the descendants of Laurent
never claimed the honor of the invention for themselves or their
sire, although they must have known all along of what was taking place
at Mentz,--where Faust and Schœffer were yearly publishing books
with their names attached? How comes it that the family possessed no
documents that in any way referred to the invention?--that they never
kept by them copies of the works they are said to have printed?--that
none of such works were known or found in Haarlem until 1654 or 1660,
when a chestfull of old books without date or printer’s name was bought
by the city authorities at a sale at the Hague--two centuries later,
and at once attributed to them? _How is it that no Dutch writer or
printer, from 1441 to 1588_, claimed the honor of the invention for
his countryman Coster?--that neither Nicholas the son of Peter of
Haarlem, who printed at Padua in 1476, and at Vicenza in 1477; Henri of
Haarlem, who printed from 1482 to 1499 in different cities; and Gerard
of Haarlem, who exercised the art at Florence in 1499, never claimed
it for their brother citizen and birthplace? How comes it that the
earliest known printers in Haarlem itself, John Andriesson and Jacob
Bellaert, whose books are dated 1483 and 1485, are silent upon the
subject?--that the first printers in Utrecht in 1473--and between that
date and 1498, those of Alost, Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, Culembourg,
Delft, Deventer, Ghent, Gouda, Hertogenbosch, Leyden, Louvain, St.
Maartensdyk, Niemegen, Oudenarde, Schiedam, Schoonhoven, Zwolle, and
elsewhere in Holland and the Low countries, make no mention of it?--and
that nothing whatever is known of any of the “multiplied workmen,” and
“dependents,” whom Laurent Janssoen Coster, it is alleged, was obliged
to employ to meet the demands made upon him by purchasers for copies
of the products of the newly invented art? How, finally, is it to be
accounted for, that while Coster’s descendants were living in Haarlem,
when Van Zuyren, Coornhert, and Junius, were writing their works,
those writers omitted to make inquiry of any member of the family on a
subject respecting which the family were the parties most interested,
and could have given the most authentic information? Perhaps they did;
and when they asked for the story of the invention, discovered that the
family had, like Canning’s knife-grinder, “no story to tell.”

To the objections, that no printed book bears the name of Coster or
his descendants, and that neither he nor they ever entered their
protest against the pretensions of Mentz, Koning replies:[90]--“We
agree that no such book has been found; but neither is any book to be
found bearing the name of Gutenberg. Must we, on this account, strike
his name out of the list of the first printers? The aim of the first
printers was to imitate manuscripts, and to make their printed books
pass for such; and therefore, lest their art should be found out,
it behoved them to keep their names a profound secret.... The first
inventor could have no idea of the astonishing influence which his art
would have in the world in future ages; and no person can feel surprise
that he did not affix his name to his first essays.

“Besides, the printers of the fifteenth century very commonly omitted
to put their names to the editions printed by them. The number of books
existing of this century, without either the name of the printer or
the place of their publication is prodigious. Ulric Zell, for example,
according to Santander, printed eighty books, and, out of this number,
has only put his name to two or three. With what appearance of reason
is it insisted, that the works, which are attributed to Laurent
Janssoen Coster, are not his, because they are not signed with his

“But it is said, that neither Coster nor his descendants ever
vindicated their claims, against the pretensions put forth by the
Mentz printers.... Neither did Gutenberg vindicate his, against Faust
and Schœffer; who, in the colophon of the Psalter of 1457, and in
the subscriptions of numerous other books, took all the honor to
themselves, making no mention of him whatever; although it is not
doubted that Gutenberg set up a printing office of his own in 1455, and
he is regarded by the writers on the side of Mentz as the inventor and
perfector of the art of printing.”

As to the inventor having no idea of the astonishing influence which
his art would have in the world in future ages, it is plain from the
evidence given in the Strasburg law-suit, that Gutenberg and his
partners were fully persuaded, that the work they had undertaken was
one by which they would make their fortunes. And, although it is
asserted that Gutenberg never vindicated his claim against Faust and
Schœffer, yet it is certain that his merit as the inventor of printing
was known to the Elector of Mentz, and the King of France, _and it is
also expressly admitted_, not only _by his contemporaries_, in Germany,
Italy, and elsewhere, but by Peter Schœffer himself, who besides the
detailed account of the origin of the invention which he gave to
the Abbot Trithemius in the year 1484, allowed the insertion of the
following among other Latin verses at the end of the “_Institutes of
Justinian_,” printed by him in 1468:--

  Hos dedit eximios sculpendi in arte magistros,
  Cui placet en mactos arte sagire viros,
  Quos genuit ambos urbs moguntina Johannes
  Librorum insignes protocaragmaticos;
  Cum quibus optatum Petrus venit ad polyandrum,
  Cursu posterior, introeundo prior;
  Quippe quibus præstat sculpendi lege sagitus
  A solo dante lumen et ingenium.

These lines are thus translated by Humphreys,--“He who is pleased
to create high talents has given us two great masters of the art
of engraving, both bearing the name of John, both being natives of
the city of Mayence, and both having become illustrious as the first
printers of books. Peter advanced with them towards the desired goal,
and, starting the last, arrived first, having been rendered the most
skilful in the art of engraving by him who alone bestows light and
genius.” There can be no doubt but the two Johns and the Peter here
referred to were John Gutenberg, John Faust, and Peter Schœffer.[91]

Up to the date of Junius’s publication, 1588, no writer had claimed the
honor of the invention for Coster; and but three, who wrote between
1549 and 1567, had asserted Haarlem to have been its birthplace;--and
one of these, as we have seen, expressly declines to vouch for the
accuracy of the tradition. On the other hand, we learn from the
researches of Dean Mallinckrot,[92] that up to the date of Junius’s
publication no less than sixty-two writers had awarded the honor of
the invention to Gutenberg, and fixed its birthplace, and the place of
its promulgation to the world at the cities of Strasburg and Mentz.
Although abundant proof has already been given upon these points, the
following selection from contemporary and historic evidence is added,
in order to shew the strength and solidity of the basis upon which
those claims rest, and how thoroughly it outweighs all that has been
brought forward by writers on the opposite side.

In 1457, on the publication of their Psalter, Faust and Schœffer
ascribed to themselves the merit of the new invention.

After Faust’s death, Schœffer inserted in the imprint or colophon on
the last page of his works, the words “in nobili urbe Magentiæ ejusdem
(_i. e._ artis imprimendi) inventriæ elimatriceque prima.”

In 1480, William Caxton, in his continuation of _Higden’s
Polychronicon_, printed at Westminster, says “About this time [1455]
the craft of imprynting was first found in Mogunce in Almayne.”[93]

In the _Fasciculi Temporum_ printed by Quentel at Cologne in 1478 and
1481, it is stated that the art of printing originated at Mentz.

In the Black book or Register of the Garter, it is said with reference
to the 35th year of the reign of Henry VI, anno 1457, “In this year of
our most pious king, the art of printing books first began at Mentz,
a famous city of Germany.” And in _Fabian’s Chronicle_, the writer, a
contemporary of Caxton, says, “This yere (35th of Henry VI,) after the
opynyon of dyverse wryters, began in a citie of Almaine, namyd Mogunce,
the crafte of empryntynge bokys, which sen that tyme hath had wonderful
encrease.” It was in this year 1457, that the first book appeared which
has the printer’s name, date, and place of printing, affixed. This is
the celebrated Psalter printed by Faust and Schœffer.

In 1486, Berthold, Archbishop of Mentz, in a mandate which will be
quoted at length in a subsequent chapter, states, “this art, [printing]
was first discovered in this city of Mentz.”

A single testimony similar to either of the above in favor of Haarlem,
would have been hailed with delight by any of the writers in the
latter half of the sixteenth century, and their tribe of followers
who advocate the claims of that city; but what follows is much more
forcible and decisive.

“Of all the authors to whom the world is indebted for a particular
account of the discovery of printing,” says, Mr. Palmer,[94] “Abbot
Trithemius justly claims pre-eminence; both upon account of his living
nearest to the time when the art originated, which he tells us was in
his younger years; as well as his care to derive his intelligence on
the subject from the purest sources. We have two noble testimonies
out of his chronicle; one from the first part entitled _Chronicon
Spanheimense_, wherein, speaking of the year 1450, he says: ‘That about
this time, the art of printing and casting single types was found out
anew in the city of Mentz, by one John Gutenberg, who having spent his
whole estate in this difficult discovery, by the assistance and advice
of some honest men, John Faust and others, brought his undertaking at
length to perfection; that the first improver of this art, after the
inventor, was Peter Schœffer de Gernsheim, who afterwards printed a
great many volumes; that the said Gutenberg lived at Mentz, in a house
called _Zum-junghen_, but afterwards known by the name of the printing

“The next passage, which is fuller, and for its singularity and
decisiveness deserves to be set down at length, is taken out of
the second part of Trithemius’s chronicle, entitled _Chronicon
Hirsaugiense_:--‘About this time (anno 1450) in the city of Mentz in
Germany upon the Rhine, and not in Italy, as some writers falsely
affirmed, the wonderful and _till then unknown_ art of printing books
by metal types (_characterizandi_) was invented and devised by John
Gutenberg, citizen of Mentz, who, having almost exhausted his whole
estate in contriving of this new method, and labouring under such
insuperable difficulties, in one respect or other, that he began to
despair of and to throw up the whole design; was at length assisted
with the advice and purse of John Faust, another citizen of Mentz,
and happily brought it to perfection. Having therefore, begun with
cutting characters of the letters upon wooden planks, in their right
order, and completed their forms, they printed the vocabulary called
the _Catholicon_; but could make no further use of those forms,
because there was no possibility of separating the letters, which were
engraven on the planks, as we hinted before. To this succeeded a more
ingenious invention, for they found out a way of stamping the shapes
of every letter of the Latin alphabet, in what they called matrices,
from which they afterwards cast their letters, either in copper or
tin, hard enough to be printed upon, which they first cut with their
own hands. It is certain that this art met with no small difficulties
from the beginning of its invention, as I heard thirty years ago
from the mouth of Peter Schœffer de Gernsheim, citizen of Mentz, and
son-in-law to the first inventor of the Art. For when they went about
printing the Bible, before they had worked off the third quire it had
cost them already above 4000 florins. But the afore-mentioned Peter
Schœffer, then servant, (_famulus_,) and afterwards son-in-law, to
the first inventor John Faust, as we hinted before, being a person
of great ingenuity, discovered an easier method of casting letters,
and perfected the art as we now have it. These three kept their
manner of printing very secret for some time, until it was divulged
by their servants, without whose help it was impossible to manage
the business, who carried it first to Strasburg, and by degrees all
over Europe. Thus much will suffice concerning the discovery of this
wonderful art, the first inventors of which were citizens of Mentz.
These three first discoverers of printing, viz. John Gutenberg, John
Faust, and Peter Schœffer his son-in-law, lived at Mentz, in a house
called _Zum-junghen_, but ever since known by the name of the printing

Equally clear and to the point, if not more so, as well as the
first published in point of time, is the statement given by Johan.
Koelhoff, who in 1499 printed the following particulars in the _Cologne
Chronicle_, on the authority of Ulric Zell of Hainault, by whom the
art of printing was first introduced to Cologne. Zell learned the art
directly from the first Mentz printers; and in the colophons of two
small works printed in the years 1466 and 1467, he styles himself a
clerk of the diocese of Mentz. The statement is as follows:--

“Of the printing of Books, and when and by whom, this Art was
discovered, of which the utility cannot be too highly appreciated, &c.

“Item: This most important art was first found out in Germany, at
Mentz on the Rhyne. And it is a great honour to the German nation that
such ingenious men were found in it. This took place about the year of
our Lord M.CCCC.XL., and from that time to the year L., this art and
whatever appertains to it were rendered more perfect. And in the year
M.CCCC.L. which was a jubilee year, they began to print; _and the first
book that was printed was the Bible in Latin_, and it was printed with
larger characters than those which are now used for printing Missals.
Item: Although this art, as we have said, was found out in Mentz in
the way in which it is commonly used; nevertheless the prototype of it
(‘_vurbildung_,’ præfiguratio) was found in Holland, in the Donatuses
(_den Donaten_) which had been before printed there; and it is from
and out of these, that the beginning of this art was taken. And this
manner has been found much more masterly and subtle than that which
before existed, and it has become more and more ingenious. Item: A
person named Omnibonus writes in the preface to Quinctilian, and in
other books, that a certain Frenchman, called Nicholas Genson, first
discovered this important art; which is clearly not true. For there are
persons now living, who can attest, that books were printed at Venice
before Nicholas Genson went there, and began to sculpture and set up
type. But the first inventor of printing was a citizen of Mentz, born
at Strasburg, called Johan. Gudenburch, Gentleman. Item: From Mentz
the said art was first carried to Cologne, then to Strasburg, and
then to Venice. The commencement and progress of this art has been
told me expressly by word of mouth, by the revered master Ulrich Tzell
of Hainault,[96] the printer, still living at Cologne in the present
year M.CCCC.XCIX., by whom the art was first brought to Cologne. Item:
There are ill-informed persons who say that books were printed in more
ancient times; but that is contrary to the truth, as in no country are
books to be found printed in those times.”

Zell’s account is confirmed by the writer of the _Nurimberg Chronicle_,
printed by Koburger in 1493, who states that in the year 1450, the
noble art of typography was first invented by John Gutenberg at Mentz.

To the like effect is the testimony of Marc Ant. Coccius Sabellicus
(_b._ 1436; _d._ 1506,) in the sixth chapter of his Universal History,
printed at Venice in 1504.

In 1502, Wimpheling, the earliest writer in favour of the pretensions
of Strasburg, states, in his _Epitome Rerum Germanicarum_,
that Gutenberg was “the inventor of a new art of writing (_ars
impressoria_), which might also be called a divine benefit, and which
he happily _completed at Mentz_.”

In 1505, John Schœffer, _eldest son and successor to Peter_, Faust’s
son-in-law, declares in a Dedication to the Emperor Maximilian of
an edition of Livy, printed that year, that the admirable art of
Typography was invented at Mentz in the year 1450, by John Gutenberg,
and afterwards improved and perfected by the study, perseverance and
labour of John Faust and Peter Schœffer.[97] This work was edited by
the learned Dr. Ivo Wittig, the same who in 1508 erected the memorial
tablet in front of the house Zum Gutenberg, the inscription on which is
given at page 198.

About 1510, Mariangelus Accursius, a Neapolitan scholar of distinction,
wrote on the first page of a Donatus, printed on vellum, “Johan Faust,
a citizen of Mentz, the maternal grandfather of Johan Schœffer, first
found out the art of printing with types of brass, for which he
afterwards substituted those of lead; his son-in-law, Peter Schœffer,
greatly assisting him in perfecting the art. But this _Donatus_ and
_Confessionalia_ was first of all printed in the year 1450. It is
certain that he took the idea from a Donatus which had been before
printed from engraved wooden blocks in Holland.” The Donatus in which
this was written was in the possession of the younger Aldus, who shewed
it to Angelo Rocca, by whom the memorandum was copied, and printed in
the year 1591.

Erasmus of Rotterdam, who was intimate with the most learned men and
principal printers of Germany, Holland, Italy, and France, and whose
inquisitive mind led him to obtain information on every possible
topic; who had beside him for many years in the capacity of Secretary,
the same Quirinus Talesius from whom Junius obtained the confirmation
of the story of Nicholas Galius; who greatly eulogised the productions
of the Fleming, Jodocus Badius, a printer in France, and moreover
wrote the epitaph over his friend Theodore Martens, the first printer
in Belgium, and who was as jealous of the honor of his fatherland as
any Hollander could be; nevertheless repeatedly declared Faust to be
the earliest printer, and Mentz the city where printing was first
practised. This he did in 1518, in his dedicatory Epistle to an edition
of Livy, published by John Schœffer, and again in his own edition of
the Epistles of St. Hieronymous, published at Leyden in 1530.

Arnold de Bergel, in his _Encomion Chalcographiæ_, previously referred
to, describes the first printing of books by John Gutenberg at Mentz
in the year 1450. The idea originated, he says, by Gutenberg observing
while at Strasburg the impression made by his signet ring in soft

Sebastian Munster, in his _Universal Cosmography_, printed in 1571,
states that in the years 1440 to 1450 the art of printing was invented
and first practised in Mentz by John Gutenberg, afterwards assisted by
John Faust and John Medinbach.

Peter Van Opmer,[99] a fellow-countryman and contemporary of Junius,
and a writer of repute, says with reference to the sudden outburst
of learning at the commencement of the fifteenth century:--“This was
effected by the assistance of that art, which from metal characters
of letters ingeniously cast, disposed in the order in which we write,
spread over with a convenient quantity of ink, and put under the press,
has ushered into the world books in all languages, and multiplied
their copies like a numerous offspring, and has obtained the name
of TYPOGRAPHY. This Art of Printing was most certainly invented and
brought to light by John Faust in the year 1440. It is amazing that
the author of so important a discovery, and so generous a promoter of
divine and human learning, should be unworthily forgotten, or only
casually remembered as a mere artist. Surely such a person deserves a
place amongst the greatest benefactors of mankind.”[100]

A goodly number of similar testimonies might easily be collected, in
not one of which is any reference made to either Coster or Haarlem. Not
a single Dutch or Flemish annalist or chronicler or historian, previous
to 1560, ever makes the slightest allusion to the man or the place in
connection with the art of printing. Even Jan Gerbrant, Prior of the
Carmelite Order at Haarlem, who died there in 1504, knew nothing of
the matter. Yet he is the compiler of the Chronicle of the Counts of
Holland and Bishops of Utrecht; and if printing had been the invention
of his contemporary Coster, and practised in the city of Haarlem, he
could not have been ignorant of the facts, nor would he have failed to
record them in his Chronicle.

Meerman and his followers vainly try to evade the force of this fatal
silence; all their learning and ingenuity are brought to bear, but
without effect; for if, as they maintain, the historians of that time
considered the attempts made at Haarlem so crude and imperfect, as
not to be worthy their notice, what is to be made of the statement of
Junius, that the invention attracted notice; that the works printed
were publicly sold, and the business increased so much, that numerous
workmen and assistants had to be engaged? The number of works said
by Koning and others to have issued from the Coster press, indicates
anything but a crude and imperfect state of the art; and if those works
had been printed by the sacristan of the great Church of Haarlem, the
Prior of the Carmelites, living in the city at the same time, must have
known of their existence. How then is his silence to be accounted for?

The only rational conclusion to which one can arrive, is, that the
tradition, which, after the growth of a hundred years was moulded into
historic narrative by Junius, had neither existence nor foundation in
the days of Prior Gerbrant. As an aid to history, in the elucidation
of facts otherwise obscure, tradition is a valuable auxiliary; but as
opposed to history and well known facts, there is no more unreliable
source of information. Every one is aware how witnesses of the same
occurrence will differ in their statements of the particulars of what
they saw; and all who have taken the pains to unravel old traditions
well know how wholly unlike their origin they ultimately and all
but invariably prove to be. There is no reason for supposing that
the traditional account of the origin of printing in Haarlem is an
exception to the rule. The age was one prone to the invention of
legends; and in the early days of printing in that city, and after
Ulric Zell had published his account at Cologne, and attributed to
Gutenberg the taking of the idea from the _Donatuses_ first printed
_in Holland_, it is by no means unlikely that an old printer, or an
old book-binder, in Haarlem, who had when a boy seen a specimen of a
_Biblia Pauperum_ or a _Donatus_, in the hands of the Sacristan of the
Church, would say, first, that he had seen the proof that printing
originated in Holland, there, in that city; then, stretching a point,
that printing originated there; others, repeating this, would assert
that the proof that such was the fact existed; that it had been seen
in the hands of the Coster; that the Coster printed it; that there was
the house he lived in; that it was a shame the Germans, who stole the
idea of the separable types from the Dutch, should get all the credit;
that they had robbed Coster of his fame; nay robbed him of his types;
that it must have been one of the Johns of Mentz who was the thief; and
so on, varying and amplifying the tale, until the time of Junius, who
finding the poem of Arnold de Bergel imparting a fresh halo of glory
to Mentz and her three first printers, adopted and embellished the
tradition, and borrowing certain ideas from Virgil as well as from
Bergel, gave in his _Batavia_ an account of the first conception and
ultimate realization of the idea, which should stand as a rival to the
account given in the _Encomion Chalcographiæ_.

The documents upon which the Haarlemese mainly rely, prove of
themselves that the tradition grew within the space of a few years
almost as rapidly as the pillar-like flower-stalk of the gigantic
American aloe, and effloresced as abundantly in the narrative of
Junius--the prolific progenitor of a host of subsequent writers:--for
first, (in say 1555,) the art only “became the companion of a certain
stranger;”[101]--then (1561) it “was carried to Mentz by an unfaithful
servant;”[102]--next, (1567) “the author of the invention _happening
to die before the art was brought to perfection_ and had acquired
repute, his servant they say went to reside at Mentz:”[103]--finally,
(1568) the foresworn workman, the thief John, _while his master was
still alive_ ... seizes the collection of types, and all the implements
his master had got together ... marches off to Amsterdam, thence to
Cologne, and at last settled at Mentz;--and Coster, lamenting his
losses, tells his woes to the little boy Cornelis, who used to help the
book-binder; and Cornelis is so powerfully affected by the tale, that
seventy-two years after, whenever he was asked to repeat it, he would
fall into passionate weepings, and curse and execrate the miscreant
John, and vow nothing would please him more, were he but alive, than
with his own hands to hang him outright.[104] These are the bases
upon which are built “the accumulated and still accumulating evidence
in favour of Coster,”--the “vast mass of unanswerable evidence in his
favour,”--in presence of which “the advocates of Gutenberg’s claim to
priority are slow to give way;” and for which slowness they are accused
of “closing both eyes and ears to testimony of every kind, refusing
to acknowledge that there is the slightest ground for the claims of
_Holland_ as against the, asserted, overwhelming evidence in favour of
Germany.”[105] With such writers, the array of facts on the Gutenberg
side of the question goes for naught. Pinning their faith to Junius they

  ... “with power (their power was great)
  Hovering upon the waters what they met
  Solid or slimy, as in raging sea
  Toss’d up and down, together crowded drove
  From each side shoaling.”

Labouring thus, they from Meerman to Van Meurs[106]

  ... “following his track
  Paved after him a broad and beaten way
  Over the dark abyss, whose boiling gulf
  Tamely endured a bridge of wondrous length.”

And patriotic Dutchmen in the nineteenth century, with a full reliance
on the stability of the structure thus raised, have struck medals,
put up tablets, and erected monuments, commemorative of the memory of
the “immortal and incomparable Laurent Janssoen,” and the art he is
alleged to have invented, with an enthusiasm strangely at variance with
their utter ignorance of the man and his invention for upwards of a
century after his death.[107]

Of a very different opinion however was Erasmus, who, it may fairly
be presumed, was not left unacquainted by his secretary, Talesius,
with the tradition which assigned to Haarlem and Coster the origin of
printing; but who shewed, by his public declarations assigning that
honor to Mentz, that he deemed the tradition unworthy of belief, and
destitute of even a basis of truth. Of a different opinion too, was
Van Opmer, who must have been aware of the statements put forth in
Coornhert’s edition of Cicero’s Offices, and had opportunity of judging
of their truth; although Spiegel, living at the same time and in the
same city with Opmer, adopted them, and asserted Laurentius to be the
inventor of separable wooden types. Carl Van Mander, however, a later
writer, pursuing his investigations in the city of Haarlem, while
preparing the materials for his History of the Lives of Painters and
Engravers, which was printed there about 1605, is as silent on the
subject of Coster, as Prior Gerbrant.

Notwithstanding all this, Meerman and the multitude who follow in his
wake, cling to their faith in Junius. His assertions, contradictory as
they have been shewn to be, to those of writers immediately preceding
him, outweigh with them all other evidence. Enough for them the
support he receives in the testimony of Ulric Zell and Mariangelus
Accursius. The reader has that testimony before him, and can form
his own estimate of its weight on the Costerian side of the balance.
Zell is the only authority for the statement that Block-book Donatuses
were first printed _in Holland_. Accursius but recapitulates Zell’s
words, upon a Donatus which he states was printed by Faust at Mentz
in 1450. Zell was a Fleming, and although he learned the art of
printing at Mentz and carried it thence to Cologne, he had without
doubt his national partialities; his account is not however borne
out by that of Schœffer, given to Abbot Trithemius in 1484, although
the two statements are not contradictory. Neither do they contradict
the account of the origin of the art as stated by Bergel. Each may
supplement the other. The first idea of printing may have occurred
to Gutenberg from the impressions made in wax by his signet ring,
and his cogitations upon the subject have been further confirmed by
Block-books bought at Aix-la-Chapelle. It may therefore be admitted,
that Block-book Donatuses were printed and sold in Holland, prior to
1436. But what then? Haarlem is not Holland, any more than Liverpool is
England. And to argue that if such books were printed in Holland, they
must therefore have been produced at Haarlem;[108] and if the work of a
Hollander, why not of Coster?[109] is simply to attempt to cut through
a difficulty which has defied every other effort to penetrate or solve;
and moreover it leaves untouched the question, whether separable types
were first made in Germany or Holland, which is the hinge whereon the
whole controversy in regard to the origin of Typography turns.

But Junius specifies the “Mirror of Human Salvation,” as a work, the
like of which, or of which sort, was the work which had been printed by
Coster:--a work with wood-cut figures and descriptive text below, and
printed on one side only. There were several works of this kind known;
and although some have been alluded to in the previous chapters, a more
extended notice of them may here be given.

Temptationes Demonis; a large block covering one side of an entire
sheet of paper, and containing texts of Scripture, with figures of
angels and devils.

_Donatus_, de Octo Partibus Orationis.

_Biblia Pauperum_, consisting of forty leaves of small folio; each
leaf contains a central design of three scriptural subjects, with two
half-length figures of prophets or holy men both above and below; on
either side of these are explanatory descriptions, while beneath are
their names, with additional inscriptions on scrolls.

_Historia Sancti Johannis Evangelistæ, Ejusque Visiones Apocalypticæ_;
folio designs of scenes from the Apocalypse, two subjects on each page,
with labels and scrolls containing descriptive matter.

_Historia seu Providentia Virginis Mariæ, ex Cantico Canticorum_, or
the Book of Canticles; consisting of eight blocks, each containing four
designs, with Latin inscriptions on scrolls interspersed among the

Historia Beatæ Mariæ Virginis ex Evangelistis et Patribus excerpta et
per Figuras Demonstrata.

Defensorium inviolatæ Virginitatis Mariæ Virginis.

Der Entkrist, or the Book of Antichrist; consisting of thirty-nine cuts
with text.

Ars Memorandi; a quarto work of fourteen pages, consisting of whole
page engravings of symbols of the four Evangelists, with accompanying
pages of explanations.

_Ars Moriendi_; a series of quarto cuts, exhibiting the deaths of good
and bad men, with descriptive pages of text opposite the cuts.

A quarto work of thirty-two cuts, containing subjects of Sacred writ;
under each cut are fifteen verses in the German language.

_Speculum Humanæ Salvationis_; fifty-eight leaves, each containing
two designs, mostly from the Old or New Testament; each design has
a Latin inscription of one line engraved on it. Beneath is placed
the descriptive text. In the Latin edition there are five leaves of
preface, and in the Dutch four.

Die Kunst Cheiromantia; a work treating of palmistry.

Planetenbuch; treating of the influence of planets on human life.

Mirabilia Romæ; a guide to the principal shrines in Rome.

Opera nova contemplativa.

       *       *       *       *       *

Of the above, Koning ascribes all those printed in italics to
Coster,[110] together with the _Catonis Disticha_, and _Horarium_,
the latter a book of eight small pages discovered by M. Enschedé of
Haarlem, containing the letters of the Alphabet, the Lord’s Prayer,
the Ave Maria, the Apostles’ Creed, &c., printed with moveable
characters.[111] Including separate editions, Koning gives Coster
the credit of printing seventeen works. Now the time, as well as
labour, involved in designing and engraving these works must have been
very great. In the _Biblia Pauperum_ there are 200 designs, besides
the text; in the _Book of Canticles_, 32; in the _Speculum Humanæ
Salvationis_, 116; besides those in the _Ars Moriendi_, and the
_Apocalypse_. These are among the very earliest specimens of design
and engraving on wood that are known to exist. If then these were
executed, as alleged, by Coster in Haarlem,[112] how came it, that
his contemporaries knew nothing of them; that Van Mander,--himself
an artist and an engraver, who describes in his History, written and
printed at Haarlem, the works of Flemish and Dutch artists living both
before and after Coster’s time,--is silent in regard to both the man
and his works?--although he says that the city of Haarlem “dares to
pretend to the glory of having invented printing.”

By this expression it is contended by Coster’s advocates, Van Mander
“intended to say, that the claims of Haarlem were well founded.” And
furthermore, that his silence is to be accounted for from the fact,
that “none of these wood engravings bear the initials of the artists
who designed or engraved them, and that he may have been uncertain as
to their names.” But what a lame and impotent conclusion is this to
arrive at. Van Mander, it is plain, knew of the tradition about the
origin of printing in Haarlem. His own work was carried down to the
year 1604, and Junius’s Batavia was printed in 1588--sixteen years
previously. He could not therefore have been ignorant of what was said
in that work about Coster, and his printing works with woodcuts similar
to those of the Mirror of Salvation. Knowing that, he must have made
inquiry concerning both, and have arrived at the same conclusion as
Erasmus and Van Opmer. Otherwise, how is his silence to be accounted
for? The very fact of the woodcuts being without initials should have
stimulated inquiry. They are the work of an artist of no mean skill;
and to suppose that he passed them by without notice, or without an
attempt to discover their designer, engraver, or printer, who was
alleged to have been a wealthy and influential burgher of the city in
which he was writing, is to cast a slur on Van Mander’s reputation as
an historian which he does not appear to deserve. Even as the works of
an unknown artist they demanded, and would have received, notice, had
they been printed and sold in the manner described by Junius, and those
who have subsequently amplified his narrative.

With regard to the engravings in the “Poor Man’s Bible,” Ottley says
(p. 87,) “the style of these cuts has considerable resemblance to
that of the two Van Eycks,” and he considers that the designs in this
work, together with those in the Book of Canticles, and the Mirror of
Salvation, were, with the exception of the last ten cuts of the latter,
the production of the same artist, or at any rate of artists of the
same school; all the others being of a different style, and of inferior
merit. He regrets his inability to speak with certainty upon their
age, but relies upon the following note in Dr. Dibdin’s _Bibliotheca
Spenceriana_, (vol. i. p. 4.)

  “Mr. Horn, a gentleman long and well known for his familiar
  acquaintance with ancient books printed abroad was in possession
  of a copy of the _Biblia Pauperum_, of the _Ars Moriendi_, and
  of the _Apocalypse_, all bound in one volume, which volume had
  upon the exterior of the cover, the following words stamped
  at the extremity of the binding, towards the edge of the
  DOMINI 142[8].’ Mr. Horn having broken up the volume and parted
  with its contents, was enabled to supply me with the foregoing
  information _upon the strength of his memory alone_; but he is
  quite confident of the three following particulars:--1, That
  the works, contained in this volume, were as have been just
  mentioned:--2, That the binding was the ancient legitimate one,
  and that the treatise had _not_ been _subsequently_ introduced
  into it:--and 3, That the date was 142...odd--but positively
  anterior to the year 1430.”

This testimony Mr. Ottley considers it ungracious to question; but
“with all this,” he says, “I wish that the volume still existed entire,
or that, at least, the cover had been preserved.... But, whatever the
antiquity of the first block-books, which almost all writers are of
opinion preceded the first attempts to print with moveable characters,
it is certain, _that for many years after the invention of typography_,
the engravers in wood continued to publish works of this kind.”[113]

The most interesting of these works is the _Speculum Humanæ
Salvationis_, which in one of its four folio editions has the text
partly in block, and thus forms a connecting link between Xylographic
and Typographic printing. The whole of these four editions are thought
by many to have been printed previous to Gutenberg’s first production
at Mentz. They are attributed to Coster and his descendants solely
on account of the obscure passage in reference to them which occurs
in the narrative of Junius; and because of that reference, and their
manifest superiority over others of the same class, all those which
resemble them in general appearance and style of types, and that have
neither initial, date, name or place, to indicate by whom and when and
where they were printed, are in like manner claimed as the product of
Coster’s Press, by every writer who from the days of Meerman to the
present, has advocated the pretensions of Haarlem in opposition to
those of Mentz to be the seat of the origin of the Typographic Art.[114]

Of these four editions, the first and third, says Ottley, are those
in the Latin language; the second and fourth those in Dutch. The
engravings are the same in each; but differences exist in the texts;
and it is on the assumption that the text was printed previous to
taking the impressions of the cuts, that he deduces the order of the
editions from the condition and appearance of the cuts. According to
this arrangement, the text of the second edition is printed with the
same type that was used in the first, with the exception of two pages
containing cuts 45 and 56, the type of which is inferior to that of the
rest of the book. In the third edition (the second Latin) twenty pages
of the text are engraved on solid blocks. The types of the text of the
fourth edition, although similar in appearance to those of the three
preceding, are somewhat smaller and coarser.[115]

To account for these differences, Mr. Ottley has framed a theory which
exactly fits the narrative given by Junius, viz:--that while the second
edition (the first Dutch) was in progress and nearly finished, the
original printer died and his types were stolen, which compelled his
successor, who was unable to replace the original types, either to
use some older discarded ones, or to avail himself of a supply of an
inferior description in order to finish it; that while the first Dutch
edition was in progress a second Latin one was demanded, to meet which,
and to bring both the Dutch and the Latin out as quick as possible,
the wood engraver was employed to make fac-similes of the texts of
20 pages; and that for the fourth edition, an old inferior fount was
used. And upon this theory he says, (p. 298,) “I am of opinion that
the concluding passage of his (Junius’s) narrative, wherein, upon the
authority of Nicholas Galius and Quirinus Talesius, he relates the
story of the robbery which they had formerly more than once heard from
the mouth of Old Cornelius the book-binder, who in his youth had lived
in the service of the printer who was robbed, merits to be considered
as one of the best attested accounts that we possess respecting the
early history of typography.”!

But Messrs. Berjeau, Bernard,[116] Paiele,[117] and Humphreys, who have
also made the _Speculum_ a special subject of study, do not admit the
assumption that the text was printed before the cuts; they adduce good
arguments to shew that the impressions of the cuts might have been,
and probably were, rubbed off before the text was printed; and the
character of the Gothic framework of the cuts that surmount the pages
with solid text, being much plainer than that in those where moveable
type is used, affords strong ground for the belief that the edition in
which they occur was the first instead of the third; the first, that
is, that was issued in a completed form; for there can be no doubt but
that the splendid copy owned by the late J. B. Inglis, Esq., was the
first as regards the impression of the cuts,--the body of some of the
scrolls in that copy having been left untouched by the wood engraver,
while in all others it is cut away. This peculiarity it was that led
Mr. Ottley to the belief that it was the first completed edition,
both as regards cuts and texts; while Mr. Humphreys, with more
reason on his side, considers that the edition with the twenty pages
of xylographic text was the first. “The execution of the subjects,”
he says, (p. 60,) “is not equal to those of some of the pages with
the typographic text, and there is no foliage in the architectural
spandrils. This may serve to prove that the entirely xylographic pages
were older than the typographic ones; and that only a few of the best
of them were used in the edition which has typographic texts to most of
the illustrations.”[118] The conclusion to which these writers have
come, upsets Mr. Ottley’s theory, and renders nugatory his opinion,
that Junius’s story of the thief “is one of the best attested accounts
that we possess respecting the early history of typography.”

The weight which is attached to Mr. Ottley’s deliverances on the
subjects upon which he has written, (and particularly in regard to the
_Speculum_, to which four chapters of his work are devoted,) makes
it necessary to consider with care whatever he advances upon matters
wherein he is largely quoted as an authority by those who have not
had similar opportunities for examining the documents upon which he
bases his conclusions; and as he does not scruple to denounce those as
sophists whose arguments run counter to his own, and to triumphantly
expose any slips or inconsistencies which he can detect in the writings
of those to whom he opposes himself, it will be well to see whether he
is himself free from the failings he so ruthlessly exposes in others.
On the question of the separable types which were used in the various
editions of the _Speculum_, I shall therefore give his argument entire.
He first says--“this type appears to have been formed upon the exact
model of the genuine black letter, commonly used from an early period
in Holland, and which is of almost constant occurrence in old Dutch
manuscript Missals, and other books of prayer. It is similar, in the
forms and joinings of the letters, and in the contractions used in it,
to what we often find in the most highly embellished books of devotion
of the fourteenth century ... this broad-faced type, this genuine
black-letter, is a characteristic of early Dutch typography. This,
indeed, is now so generally acknowledged by Bibliographers, that it is
unnecessary to insist upon it further; as every judge of old printing
will at once declare, upon looking at the _Speculum_, that the type it
is printed with, is Dutch type.” To all which a ready assent may be
given. He proceeds as follows:--

  “Any person at all conversant with printing, upon first viewing
  the Speculum, naturally determines that, except the twenty
  pages of block-printing, so often noticed, in one of the Latin
  editions, it was printed with _cast metal types_. Upon an
  attentive examination of a page, however, he discovers small,
  but yet, sometimes, very evident variations of form in different
  specimens of the same letter, which it appears difficult to
  account for: he finds, perhaps, by measurement, that the same
  word, although spelt exactly in the same manner, does not always
  occupy the same space; he is induced perhaps, to hesitate as to
  the correctness of his first judgment, and to suspect that the
  type was prepared by the painful and tedious operation of cutting
  each individual character on a separate piece of metal by the

  “If he embrace the latter opinion, he finds, in the work before
  him, ample cause to admire the invincible patience, the skill,
  and the exactness of the artist, who could succeed, not only
  in giving to the sculptured characters that general uniformity
  of appearance, which at first occasioned him to consider them
  as cast type; but even so strict a resemblance between perhaps
  a dozen specimens of the same letter in the first six lines of
  a page, as to baffle the exertions of the most correct eye to
  detect any sensible difference between them, except such as must
  necessarily occur even in the ordinary method of printing with
  cast type; either in consequence of one letter happening to
  have been more used and worse than another, more charged with
  printing ink, or from an irregularity not unfrequent in ordinary
  presswork, forced deeper into the paper than the rest.”

Having been “conversant with printing” for more than forty years,
during thirty-two of which I have been constantly engaged in
superintending the passing of works through the press, and in
the general management of extensive private and public printing
establishments, and having besides a practical knowledge of the arts
of wood-engraving, stereotyping, and type-founding, I must own, that
the impression made on my mind upon examining the fac-similes of the
_Speculum_ given in Wetter’s, Ottley’s, and Humphreys’ books, was,
that the separable types used in printing that work were cut in wood,
and were not made of cast metal; and the longer I have studied the
subject, the more satisfied I am, that Meerman was right in rejecting
the opinion of Enschedé,[119] who was strenuously opposed to the
idea of wooden types having been used. The eye that has been trained
to trace out and instantly detect the most minute differences in the
shapes of letters of different founts of the same sized types, from the
largest of those ordinarily used in book-work to the smallest employed
in newspapers,--to mark out for correction n’s and p’s and q’s that
have been turned upside down in order to serve for u’s and d’s and
b’s, and _vice versâ_, as well as to reverse turned s’s and o’s--all
common enough occurrences with careless compositors, and which only
practised eyes can detect;--the eye of a “reader” who has had only a
few years’ experience of such work cannot but note the multitudinous
differences, the variations in shape externally and internally, of
specimens of the same letters which occur in every line of the
fac-simile pages of the _Speculum_ given in the books quoted; and which
cannot be accounted for by one being more worn than another, or more
or less charged with ink, or more deeply pressed into the paper than
the rest. Such imperfections are of a totally different character, and
produce appearances altogether dissimilar to those which distinguish
the different specimens of the same letters in the same lines of the
_Speculum_ one from the other. Looked at through a magnifying glass,
these differences are of course much more easily discernible, and as
they are of precisely the same kind that are found in the letters in
the solid xylographic blocks, the conviction finally forces itself upon
the mind, that such types could not have been cast, but must have been
cut, and cut in wood. In an examination of this nature, the letters
of a single page, or at the most those of the two pages of a single
sheet, are all that can be attended to; for in their early efforts,
the oldest printers usually printed but one small folio page, and
seldom if ever more than two such pages at a time; and when as many
copies as were wanted were struck off, the types were broken up for the
next page, or two, and so on until the work in hand was completed. The
types therefore that were used in the two pages first printed would
constantly recur in all the following pages; and it is principally
owing to this recurrence of particular letters bearing on their faces
some special peculiarity, that the fact is detected that such ancient
books as the _Speculum_ are printed with moveable letters. Mr. Ottley
goes on:--

  “_But let him_ (the person at all conversant with printing)
  _turn from the page which he has been examining, to one of those
  printed from a wooden block_; AND HE WILL SOON BE CONVINCED,
  _by the comparison, that the uniformity of appearance which he
  witnessed in the characters of the former, could not have been
  produced by means similar to those used in the execution of
  the latter_; for in the page printed from the engraved block
  he will discover, throughout, a sensible difference of form,
  as well as dimensions, between the various repetitions of the
  same letter: and in the capital letters especially, he will find
  this difference so material, as to render it easy for him to
  trace with a point the precise variations of form by which, for
  example, each of a dozen letters, S, is to be distinguished from
  all the others. It will then occur to him, _that it must have
  been a task of less difficulty to preserve uniformity in the
  shapes and dimensions of the letters, in a page of text engraved
  upon a plain block of wood_, which would have afforded the
  artist not only _the means of a constant comparison_, but also
  _a convenient and steady rest for his hand_ during the operation
  of engraving, _than it could have been to cut the numerous
  characters required_, with so strict a resemblance to each other,
  _on small separate pieces of wood or metal_; and he will perceive
  his second opinion to be untenable.”--(pp. 257-259.)

The means of such a comparison are afforded in the absolute fac-similes
in Mr. Humphreys’ book, and the differences of form and dimensions
in the various repetitions of the same letter are not by any means
so material as Mr. Ottley intimates. He moreover assumes, that if
the separate letters were cut by hand, they must have been cut on
“separate pieces of wood or metal,” and therefore, he argues, there
could not have been preserved the same uniformity “in the shapes and
dimensions of the letters,” as in a page of text engraved upon a plain
block of wood, because there would be lacking “the means of a constant
comparison,” as well as “the convenient and steady rest for the hand
during the operation of engraving.” But this assumption is utterly
uncalled for. What was to hinder the engraver, after calculating the
probable number of each kind of letter he required, to trace the whole
in alphabetical order on his blocks of wood, and to engrave them all,
before he cut them into separate pieces? He would thus have the best
possible means for constantly comparing every specimen of the same
letter, as he proceeded with his task, and be able to preserve a steady
and convenient rest for his hand until all were sculptured out, leaving
the minor operation of separating the letters for use in combination to
the very last moment. But Mr. Ottley forgets himself; for in the next
chapter, after pointing out sundry differences in the orthography of
the pages printed with moveable types in the two Latin editions, he
writes (p. 294):--

  “If the pages printed from engraved blocks, in the Second Latin
  Edition, be compared with same pages in the First Edition, we
  shall not find these changes.

  “Although, when I wrote upon this subject twenty years ago, I was
  fully satisfied, as I then said, that the twenty pages of block
  printing in the Second Latin Edition, were of later date than the
  rest of the work, and that they had been engraved for the express
  purpose of completing the copies of this edition; still I was not
  then aware that such undeniable evidence existed of the fact,
  as I afterwards discovered. Suffice it to say, that, upon an
  opportunity being afforded me of comparing this edition with the
  First Latin, I immediately perceived (and I was rather gratified
  than surprised at the discovery) that those twenty pages in the
  Second Latin are no other than _fac-simile imitations of the same
  pages, as printed with type in the first edition_.

  “The printer, or his successor, as has been said, having been
  deprived of the type hitherto used in the work, printed the two
  pages wanting to complete his Dutch edition with the remains
  of some old type, a little different, which had previously
  been thrown aside, as no longer fit for use. But in doing it,
  he experienced, perhaps, more trouble than he anticipated; and
  as twenty pages, instead of two, were wanting to complete the
  second Latin edition, he now bethought himself of another mode of
  procedure. Having taken from a copy of the first Latin edition
  the ten sheets containing the twenty pages wanting to complete
  the second edition, and having corrected with a pen a letter
  here and there misprinted, he delivered those sheets to a wood
  engraver, with directions to copy them exactly; and the engraver
  executed the commission, by first glueing these ten sheets with
  their face downwards upon ten prepared blocks of wood (according
  to the method then used), then, rendering the paper transparent
  by oil or otherwise, and lastly, by cutting away the wood around
  the letters.”

The whole of the last of these paragraphs, it is to be remembered,
is purely conjectural; there is not the slightest foundation for it,
beyond the necessity for thus accounting for a certain fact, and making
that fact dove-tail in with the writer’s theory that the edition with
twenty-pages of xylographic text was the second, and not the first; a
theory which equally able writers, writers too on the Costerian side
of the controversy, deny; maintaining, with a better show of reason
on their side, that the xylographic edition was the first. But apart
from this consideration, _if the twenty pages engraved on blocks,
are fac-simile imitations_ of the twenty corresponding pages in the
other Latin edition, what are we to think of Mr. Ottley’s previous
assertion, that in these identical pages, there is “_throughout, a
sensible difference of form as well as dimensions_ between the various
repetitions of the same letter; _and in the capital letters especially,
this difference is material_.”? Both statements cannot be correct; and
how they are to be reconciled I know not.

After confessing that the changes of opinion he had previously
described were those which had taken place in his own mind, Mr. Ottley

  “At length the following mode occurred to me of accounting
  satisfactorily, as I still think it does, for the dissimilarities
  above noticed in the type of that work. The type of the
  _Speculum_ was, I conceive, made by pouring melted lead, pewter,
  or other metal, into moulds of earth or plaster, formed, whilst
  the earth or plaster was in a moist state, upon letters cut by
  the hand in wood or metal; in the ordinary manner used, from time
  immemorial, in casting statues of bronze and other articles of
  metal, whether for use or ornament. The mould thus formed could
  not be of long duration like a matrix, cut or stamped in metal,
  since it was obviously subject to fracture; nor could it be
  equally true and perfect in other respects, as it was liable to
  warp in drying. From moulds thus constructed, but a small number
  of specimens of each letter could be taken, before they would
  require to be renewed. This it is reasonable to suppose, was
  effected _by forming new moulds upon the various pieces which
  had been cast out of the old ones_. Those characters however,
  before they could have been fit for use, it had been necessary
  to clear, by means of the graver, from certain small particles
  of extraneous metal left upon them by the process of casting; so
  that the small accidental dissimilarities in different specimens
  of the same letter, originally occasioned by this imperfect mode
  of casting them, were necessarily augmented by the after process
  of finishing or clearing them with a sharp instrument, (the marks
  of which are very clearly to be perceived in the type of the
  Speculum); and thus the renewed moulds, formed upon the letters
  thus prepared, would necessarily differ, and in some cases very
  materially, from the former moulds, and also (for these moulds
  could be multiplied at pleasure) from each other. That a book,
  printed with type thus manufactured, should present a never
  ending variety in the forms of the different specimens of the
  same letter, is therefore not surprising; it is rather a subject
  for our admiration that the dissimilarity in the characters in
  the work before us is not greater and more immediately apparent.”

The above mode of accounting for the discrepancies in the appearances
of the different specimens of the same letter, is opposed to that put
forward by Koning, who takes it for granted that the types were cast
by the printer of the _Speculum_ in the same way, and with the same
kind of apparatus, as that now used by type-founders, only that the
punches were made of hard wood, and the matrices of lead or pewter; and
he accounts for certain peculiar fractures he had perceived in several
instances on the top of the capital =E= as well as in a number of the
capital =M= in which a part of the central upright stroke was broken in
the middle, by supposing that some of the punches had been continued in
use after they had received small injuries.

On the supposition that the types of the _Speculum_ really were of
cast metal, Koning’s idea is much more reasonable than that of Ottley;
but he is wrong in his notion that matrices could be struck in lead
or pewter, from punches of hard wood on which letters of the size and
character of those used in the _Speculum_ had been engraved. A few
indifferent matrices might indeed be struck from some of the larger
letters, say the letter =m=, but of the smaller ones, and those which
had fine hair strokes, both capitals and minuscules, the fine strokes
and faces of the letters would invariably be crushed. That, at any
rate, is the result of a series of experiments made by the writer, with
the view of ascertaining whether with letters so engraved on wood and
with the softest procurable sheet lead, matrices could be struck from
which types might be cast; and in which he was not successful in a
single instance.

Admitting, however, for the moment, that the printer of the _Speculum_
succeeded in striking a complete set of matrices; it has been proved
by experiments, that from matrices of soft lead as many as from 120 to
150 letters can be cast,[120] before they are rendered useless; only
after 50 or 60 had been made, the fine strokes would begin to thicken.
Now it has already been shewn, that the oldest printers did not put
to press more than a single page, or at most two pages, at a time, in
their earliest attempts in the new art. This is a fact, acknowledged
by every one who has made the Incunabula of the Fifteenth century
a subject of special study. Admitting then that two pages of the
_Speculum_ were printed together, what amount of type, and how many of
each letter would be required for those two pages?

An analysis of the fac-simile given in Mr. Humphreys’ work yields the
following results. About 1430 separate types in the one page gives
2860 as the number required for two. The following figures (twice the
number occurring in the specimen page) shew the numbers required of
each of the letters most commonly used, a 44, e 122, i 182, o 146,
u 74, d 44, h 28, m 60, n 100, s 84, t 82; there are, besides, the
following duplicate and triplicate characters, of which no other
printed work shews so large a number,--an, ca, cā, cc, ce, ch, ci, cī,
co, cō, ct, cti, cu, cū, cp, cy, da, dā, de, dē, do, du, dū, eē, et,
ect, fa, fā, fe, ff, fi, fl, fo, fr, fu, ga, ge, gē, gi, go, gu, gū,
gp, gr, gy, ii, ib, in, la, le, lē, li, ll, lle, llz, œ, ori, no, nō,
nu, pe, pp, ra, rā, re, rē, ri, ro, rō, ru, rū, ria, sa, se, si, so,
ss, st, ssi, ssz, ste, ta, tā, te, tē, ti, to, tu, tū, tri,--varying
in the frequency of their occurrence from twice to twenty-two times,
leaving but 1082 other letters for the rest of the alphabet, including
the capitals: and of these last from 6 to say 40 would be the utmost
of each required. It is thus shewn, that out of the whole number of
matrices, upwards of 300, which would be required for a complete
fount, not more than _eight_ would be used up to or beyond the point
where the fine strokes (supposing the matrices to have been of soft
lead) would begun to thicken; and of these it would be a most easy
matter to provide duplicates or triplicates, in order to preserve the
uniformity of character aimed at by the first printers, in imitation
of the manuscripts they intended their works to supersede. _All the
letters thus cast, would moreover, be fac-similes of each other_, and
would not, nay could not, present those dissimilarities of appearance
observable in specimens of the same letter occurring in every line of
the _Speculum_. Koning’s idea is thus proved to be erroneous.

But Ottley’s is much more so. Types of the size of those used in the
_Speculum_ could no doubt be cast in the way he describes, either in
plaster, or in the fine prepared sand or earth used by workers in
metal. The original letter cut by hand would be the _pattern_ type,
from which every mould for that description of letter would be made;
but the mould so made would suffice for _but one specimen_ of that one
letter; for after it had dried, and the fused metal had been poured in
and cooled, the cast letter could only be extracted by breaking away
the earth or plaster in which it had been moulded; and if the mould had
been made with ordinary care by an expert workman, the letter would
turn out an exact fac-simile of the pattern on which the mould had
been made. There would not be the slightest necessity for clearing off
particles of sand or plaster adhering to the face of the letter, so
as to leave upon it marks of the graving tool, nor yet of continually
re-casting new types in moulds made from others so disfigured. From
the one pattern type first made of each letter, as many moulds as were
wanted for the whole supply of every letter could be made, before the
operation of casting a single type was commenced; and whatever defect
was observed in any of the types after the casting, could be much more
satisfactorily remedied by a fresh cast in a mould from the original
pattern, than by graving the face of the letter and so altering its
appearance. The main object of casting the types was to make every
letter the exact counterpart of its fellow; and if the mode of casting
was so imperfect, that each one had to be touched up and cleared out
with a graver, before it could be used, that object was defeated. But
for so complicated a process there was no need, for wooden types can
be cut and completed in much less time than would be occupied by the
moulding, drying, casting, clearing and touching up, necessitated by
the Ottley-method of producing metal types. This has also been proved
by actual experiment: and my previous conviction that the separable
letters used in the _Speculum_ were, and could only be, hand-cut wooden
types, was thus still further confirmed. The marks of the graver,
which, as Mr. Ottley points out, “are very clearly to be perceived in
the type of the _Speculum_,” are just those that were produced by the
“letter-snyder” in the course of cutting out his letters, which, as
they were finished, were sent direct from his hands to those of the

The extraordinary number of duplicate and triplicate (logographs) as
well as ligatured letters, that are made use of in the _Speculum_, has
already been referred to. Mr. Ottley considers that they are a proof
of the antiquity of that work; but in that direction they only exhibit
a peculiarity which is not observable in other works: they furnish
however a strong argument in proof of the types of the _Speculum_
having been cut in wood. For, taking into account the limited number
of letters required for that work (printed but two pages at a time),
to cut _ninety_ separate punches, and to strike the same number of
matrices, when one-third of that number would suffice, was a gratuitous
waste of labour; whereas, in cutting wooden types sufficient for the
composition of two pages, a great saving of time would be effected by
duplicating and triplicating as many characters as possible; and not
only would time and labour be thus saved, but the types themselves, by
being double or treble the thickness of single letters, would be so
much the stronger and more durable.

But, say certain writers, amongst whom is Wetter: “It is impossible
to print with such small wooden types” as those used in the
_Speculum_.[122] Now Wetter’s object was to shew that the _Speculum_
was of a much later date than is attributed to it by Dutch
authorities,[123] and he argues that the types used must have been
metal, although Meerman insists upon it that they were of wood. It
is singular that Wetter should have committed himself to such a
statement, when in Tab. II. of his work he has printed a whole column
from wooden-types, some of which are of the same size as those in the
_Speculum_. Possibly he considered that the numerous hair strokes,
and particularly those which front the capital A and the minuscule t,
(peculiarities found only in letters of the _Speculum_ school) were too
fragile to withstand the pressure of printing.

Baron Heinecken,[124] from whom Wetter in all probability borrowed
some of his ideas, is of opinion that all the separable letters used
in the four folio editions of the _Speculum_ were of cast metal, and
that they were printed by Germans who imitated the Gothic style of
type first used by Gutenberg at Mentz. In one place he writes:--“It
is almost certain that the Speculum Salvationis in Latin was first
printed in Germany; and that it was afterwards translated and printed
in the Low Countries.” Elsewhere he says, “I come at last to the new
edition of the _Speculum_, which the printer Johan Veldener published
in 1483, with his name, in the Flemish language. The vignettes which
are placed at the head of each discourse, are the same as those we see
in the ancient editions. He cut the engraved blocks, which represented
always two sacred or historical subjects, sawing through the middle
of the central pillar which divided them, so as to make them into two
pieces, in order to insert them in this new edition, which is in small
4to.” “It was probably Theodore Martens,” he remarks further on, “that
brought these vignettes with him from Germany, or from France.... We
may also conjecture that Johan of Westphalia was the printer of the
first Flemish editions, and that Veldener received the blocks from
him.... Veldener, after having learned Typography at Cologne, went
to live at Louvain, where he printed in 1476, among other books, the
_Fasciculus Temporum_ in Latin, with figures engraved in wood. This
same printer afterward went to Utrecht, where in 1480, he published
the same work in Flemish, introducing also the same cuts which he had
brought with him from Louvain.... Nothing seems more natural than that
he should have brought with him from Cologne the ancient moulds or
matrices, from which the rude type of the two first Flemish editions
of the _Speculum_ already spoken of was cast; nothing more reasonable,
than that he should afterward abandon that type at Louvain or at
Utrecht, or rather at Culemborch, after having made better; for he was
certainly a man of enterprise and genius.”

Heinecken concludes this part of his argument by saying, “I trust
that this extravagant notion of finding books, and sometimes even
large volumes, printed with these moveable characters of wood, will by
degrees cease, and that able printers may be found, _who will shew the
impossibility of it_.”

There is not however, any _impossibility_ in the matter. Box wood
will bear printing from better than soft lead; and Mr. Blades has
demonstrated that types of unhardened lead can be used at an ordinary
printing press,--the half of plate IX. B, in the 2d volume of his
_Life and Typography of William Caxton_ being printed from such types.
Argument however is needless in the presence of a fact, and in the word
=Art= here given, each of the three letters is separately engraved on
a piece of box-wood, the shanks of the letters being two sizes smaller
than those of the _Speculum_, while a portion of the upper part of
the capital overhangs its shank; each letter is also perforated and
nicked, and is therefore altogether weaker than a letter of the same
size as in the _Speculum_ would be. As a proof that it was perfectly
possible for such works as the _Speculum_ to have been printed with
wooden types, three such letters are as good as three thousand; and
letters with the finest strokes most exposed to damage have been
purposely selected, in order to demonstrate the fact.

The existence in the middle of the Fifteenth century of Guilds or
confraternities of trades connected with book-making, in Antwerp,
Bruges, and Brussels, amongst whom were included ‘Prenters,’ ‘Letter-,’
and ‘Form-snyders,’ and ‘Beelde-makers;’--Letter and Form and Figure
engravers, and those who printed them;--is brought forward as a part of
the “vast mass” of so-called “unanswerable evidence,” which sustains
the claims of Coster and Haarlem to be the man and the place by whom
and where the Art of Typography was invented.

“The ‘figure engravers’ (writes Mr. Blades,) were doubtless the artists
of the playing cards, the images of saints, and the block-books,
then manufactured to a great extent in Holland and Flanders. The
term ‘letter engraver’ may have been applied to the sculptor of the
legends on the block-books, when not executed by the same artist as the
figure itself, but of this there is no evidence, and it seems far from
impossible that the term was used to denote artists employed to produce
moveable types. The ‘printers’ were doubtless workmen who took the
impressions, whether by friction or a press, from the engraved blocks
delivered to them; but there is no reason to restrict the meaning of
the word, and the same term was from the commencement always applied
to printers from moveable types. There is therefore, _primâ facie_,
evidence to support the supposition that at a very early period there
were workmen in Bruges who employed themselves, albeit in a very
rudimentary way, in printing from moveable types.”

But if moveable types were at this date in use at Bruges or elsewhere
in Holland, and if these were of cast fusile metal, how comes
it that “Letter-zetters” and “Letter-geiters,”--compositors and
type-founders,--are not included among the crafts incorporated by the
Guilds? How comes it, too, that no mention is made of the “Drukker,”
and the “Drukkers-maker”--the press and press-maker? “Printer” is a
common enough term applied to pressmen now-a-days, but as late as 1454
it had an exclusive reference to the producer of prints--the printers
of the figures sculptured by the “Beelde-makers” on the solid blocks;
and it may safely be inferred that these prints were produced after
the Chinese manner, by friction, seeing that the term “Drukker,” is
that which is applied amongst the Dutch to letter-press printers,--the
pressmen of modern days.

If, moreover, from the mention of “letter engravers” and “printers”
in the records of the Dutch Guilds referred to, we are to understand
that there is “_primâ facie_ evidence to support the supposition that
at a very early period there were workmen ... who employed themselves
in working from moveable types,”--typographic printers in fact,--then,
upon the same ground, it must be admitted that there is _primâ facie_
evidence for admitting the priority of the art in various parts of
Germany, for as early as 1428 we find a record of a “letter-printer,”
one Wilhelm Kegler, at Nördlingen, besides card-makers at Augsburg in
1418. And in 1440 there is found a record of Henne Cruse of Mayence,
one of the fraternity, on the roll of the citizens of Frankfort.[125]
But so far from there being any such _primâ facie_ evidence, the
inference to be drawn lies, I think, in an opposite direction; and
the absence of all mention of “Letter-zetters,” “Letter-geiters,”
“Drukkers,” and “Drukker-makers,” is rather to be considered a proof
that they were not then known; that moveable types and presses had not
at that time been introduced; and that “Letter-snyders,” and “Prenters”
were wholly and solely engaged upon block-books, just as much as the
“Beelde-makers,” the figure-engravers were.

“The general opinion of late writers,”[126] Mr. Blades continues, “is,
that the art was first _perfected_ at Mentz ... but that nevertheless
the _earliest use_ of moveable types must be recognized in the rude
specimens attributed to Laurence Coster of Haarlem. Coster died in
1440, and nothing is known to have issued from his press between
that period and 1483; but what became of his assistants? Did they,
after gaining some insight into the curious effects of Coster’s
trials, resign all further attempts, or did they seek to imitate
him, some in one town, some in another?” These are very pertinent
questions, inasmuch as if they are asked in reference to the assistants
of Gutenberg, Faust and Schœffer, they can be answered in the
affirmative, and their respective movements traced. But asked with
reference to Coster, the disappointing answer is, “NO ONE KNOWS;” yet
it seems more than probable that _experiments in the direction of
printing from moveable types were making about this period in every
city where wood engraving and block-printing were practised_.... The
idea was simple enough, in the execution was the difficulty. Nor need
the opinion that at Bruges there existed at a very early period rude
printers, be based on the notice of ‘letter-snyders’ and ‘prenters’
only; there has fortunately been preserved in the Archives at Lille
an original manuscript, containing a diary of Jean le Robert, Abbé de
S. Aubert de Cambrai, among the entries in which the two following are
especially worthy of notice:--

  “Item pour .j. doctrinal gette en molle anuoiet querre a Brug.
  par Marquet .j. escripuain de Vallen. ou mois de jenuier xlv.
  pour Jaq. xx. s.t.”

  “Item enuoiet Arras .j. doctrinal pour apprendre ledit d. Girard
  qui fu accatez a Vallen. et estoit jettez en molle et cousta
  xxiiij. gr. Se me renuoia led. doctrinal le jour de Touss. lan.
  .lj. disans quil ne falloit rien et estoit tout faulx. Sen anoit
  accate .j. x patt. en. papier.”[127]

  “Item. For a printed Doctrinal (doctrinal gette en molle) that I
  have sent for to Bruges, by Marquet, a writer of Valenciennes, in
  the month of January, 1445 (_i. e._ 1446) for Jacquet, xx sous

  “Item. Sent to Arras a Doctrinal for the instruction of dom.
  Gerard, which was purchased at Valenciennes, and was printed
  (jettez en molle) and cost xxiiij. gros. The same Doctrinal he
  returned to me on Christmas Day 1451, saying ‘it was worthless,
  and full of errors;’ he had bought one on paper for xx patards.”

In these memoranda, says Mr. Humphreys, (pp. 66-67) “we have positive
proof that printed Doctrinals were commonly sold in Flanders in 1445;
and M. Bernard was the first to elucidate the full value and bearing
of this passage, of which M. Van Praet,[128] who had already mentioned
it, failed to see the drift, from not understanding the meaning of the
term _gette_, or rather _jette_, _en molle_, which simply means cast
in a mould, in reference to the metallic types, which were so cast.
That M. Bernard is correct in his explanation of the term, is clearly
proved by many passages having reference to the same subject, in which
the term is used as one well understood. For instance, in the letters
of naturalization accorded to the first printers with moveable types
established in Paris, a document dated 1474 (old style) the terms
_ecriture en molle_ or writing by means of moulds, or moulded letters,
is used. Also, in 1496, on the occasion of the purchase of two books
of prayer by the Duke of Orleans, the Constable describes them as
both _escrites en moule_. Also, in the list of furniture and books of
Anne of Britanny about the same time, books are mentioned ‘_tant en
parchemin que en papier, à la main, et en molle_;’ that is, both on
vellum and on paper, both manuscript and printed.”

Commenting upon these memoranda, Mr. Blades exclaims, “_Jettez en
molle!_--Cast in a mould! What can this expression mean, except
that the ‘Doctrinals’ were printed from cast types? As applied to
manuscripts, or to stencilling, or to block-printing, ‘_jettez en
molle_’ has no meaning whatever.”

“Drowning men,” it has well been said, “will clutch at a straw,” and
surely a consciousness of the peril in which their argument stood, must
have made the above writers clutch at Abbé Jean le Robert’s memoranda
in the way they have. It may be admitted, that the phrase “à la main,
et en molle,” means “_both manuscript and printed_;” but upon what fair
principle of philology M. Bernard and Mr. Humphreys make out that the
words “jettez en molle,” “ecriture en molle,” and “escrites en moule,”
mean “cast in a mould, _in reference to the metallic types which were
so cast_,” and “writing by means of moulds, _or moulded letters_;” is
more than I can make out. They may certainly be understood in such a
sense _now_, but when originally used they could only have referred
to the moulded appearance,--the indented impressions on the leaves of
the book, totally irrespective of the types or blocks by which such
appearance was produced.

Certainly, as applied to _manuscripts_, the phrase “_jettez en molle_”
has no meaning. But with all deference to Mr. Blades, whose “Life and
Typography of William Caxton,” is a work of the highest possible merit
with reference to all that concerns the introduction of Printing into
England,--the words in question are pregnant with meaning in regard
to both block-printing and stencilling. Every one acquainted with the
ordinary processes of printing must know, that freshly-printed paper
has exactly the appearance of having been moulded; the damped paper,
in fact, is actually moulded on the type or wood-engraving, by the
forcible pressure brought to bear upon it, and on being released from
that pressure, the paper cast that has been made brings away with it,
on removal, the colouring matter with which the blocks or types have
been inked. In the old solid blocks, when the hollows cut to leave in
relief the characters used for the School-books--the Donatuses and
Doctrinals--would be wider, deeper, and more irregular than in the
more modern types, this indented and moulded appearance would be much
more apparent, especially when impressions were taken by the Chinese
method of rubbing the back of the paper, and the printer was careless
about smoothing out and obliterating the evidences of indentation, in
the manner adopted by typographers now-a-days. In stencilling too, the
perforated plate, when laid upon the paper, became to all intents and
purposes a mould. The bottom of the mould was the surface of the paper
on which, through the perforations in the plate, the ink or pigment
would be brushed, the paper being thus made to take a coloured cast of
the hollows in the plate. With reference to either process therefore,
the phrase “_jettez en molle_” might most naturally be used to express
on the part of any one ignorant of the process of printing, the
appearance of a book which he knew was not written, but which bore upon
its face the evidence of having, in some way or other, been cast or
moulded. As this evidence would appear the same, or nearly so, whether
produced from engraved blocks, or from separable letters, the phrase
would be just as applicable in the one case as in the other. When thus
examined, the assertion that “_jettez en molle_” means, and can only
mean, “_printed from cast types_,” is deprived of all its weight, and
the phrase itself is valueless as an evidence that cast types were in
use at Bruges, or elsewhere in Holland, at the time when Abbé Jean le
Robert wrote his diary.

Xylographic and typographic productions, as well as that edition of
the Mirror of Human Salvation which partook of the nature of both, may
therefore be described alike, as books “jettez en molle.”

But in endeavouring to ascertain the time when this latter work was
printed, there are still two important points to be considered; and
these are, the age of the paper, and the date of the costume and armour
of the figures represented in the vignettes. On both of these points
Mr. Ottley’s writings are most instructive. As regards the first, the
only guides are the paper-marks, and as the same marks continued to
be used by manufacturers for many successive years, it follows, that
although the _Speculum_ might possibly have been printed when peculiar
marks were first made use of, the printing may, just as likely, not
have taken place till many years later: the only certainty, therefore,
that an undated paper-mark affords, is, that the work in which it
appears could not have been printed prior to the time when it has been
ascertained that that particular mark was originally introduced.

The marks observed in the paper on which the earliest edition of
the _Speculum_ is printed, consist of a fleur-de-lis (or anchor) an
unicorn, two keys side by side, a hand, a St. Catharine wheel, a circle
enclosing the letters M A with a coat of arms beneath; and the letter
P; and in the later Latin edition, the letter Y. These three last are
considered the most important, and are dealt with as such by Mr.

As to the circle with the letters and coat of arms, he says, the
initials signify without doubt, the initials of Margaret, widow of
William, Count of Holland, and the mother of the Countess Jacqueline,
the arms being those of Bavaria, whence he concludes, that the paper
was manufactured during the reign of the Countess Jacqueline in Brabant
and Hainault, after her marriage with the Dauphin, and before the
treaty of transfer made to Philip of Burgundy in 1433, it being the
custom of manufacturers of paper in the fifteenth century to put the
arms of their sovereigns in their marks. Mr. Ottley, however, points
out, that this usage was rare before the latter part of the century,
although afterwards the practise became common.

The letter P, which Koning considers to have been the initial of
Philip of Burgundy (who reigned in Brabant from 1430 to 1467,) was
found by him, he says, in a memorandum of accounts of the date 1432;
and he remarks further, that “a large proportion of the books printed
in Holland in the latter part of the fifteenth century, have this
paper-mark, which will never be found in any book, nor in any paper,
coming from Germany or from Italy.”

This last assertion Mr. Ottley disproves, by citing several instances
of its occurrence in various works of Zell, as well as the marks of
the unicorn, the two keys, and the capital Y, &c., shewing, as he
says, that Koning has “_erred egregiously_.” He also says (note, p.
160,) “The supposed _initial of Philip the Bold_ is very doubtful. I
have reason to believe that the paper on which it is found was made in
Italy.” And he moreover shews, that he could not find it in any of Mr.
Koning’s tracings, earlier than 1453. He himself saw it “in company
with other papers which _he thought_ not to be older than 1438; but in
a dated book he did not find it earlier than 1445.”

“The letter Y,” says Mr. Koning, “is, without doubt, the initial of
Ysabel of Portugal, who was married to Philip le Bon in 1430.”

Mr. Koning sums up the third chapter of his book by saying, “the
paper-marks prove that the said works were published between the years
1420 and 1440; since it appears from what has been said above, that the
paper of the first Dutch edition (of the _Speculum_) which is evidently
the most ancient, bears alone the marks which are the most ancient;
that is to say, the arms of Bavaria which were used by the paper-makers
in the reign of the Countess Jacqueline, and consequently, before the
year 1428; and that the paper of the second or third edition of the
_Speculum_ bears the letter P, the mark of the sovereign Philip of
Burgundy, which certainly was not in usage until the year 1425.”

Upon all this Mr. Ottley thus comments:--(pp. 163-164).

  “Now, with respect to _the Gothic letter P_, which was so much
  used on paper, from the middle of the fifteenth to the early part
  of the sixteenth century, I shall not take upon me to deny Mr.
  Koning’s assertion, that it is to be considered as _the initial
  of Philip of Burgundy_; although, as it appears to have been
  used in other parts, as well as in his dominions, and continued
  so long after his death (as was the _Y_ also, after that of
  _Ysabel_, the wife of Philip), the fact may be doubted. As to Mr.
  Koning’s hypothesis, concerning the _two_ paper-marks with the
  _arms of Bavaria_, it is certainly ingenious: and, had he proved
  that the paper so marked, was manufactured in the dominions of
  _Jacqueline_, or of her mother _Margaret_, at the early period
  he speaks of, I should have thought it so strong a circumstance,
  in favour of that edition of the _Speculum_ in which those
  paper-marks occur, that I should have felt disposed to carry
  back the three preceding editions of that work (for it certainly
  is the fourth) to a very remote period indeed, rather than have
  denied that it was printed at the early date he has assigned
  to it. But _first_, Mr. Koning has brought no evidence to shew
  that the paper was made in Brabant; (for the circumstance,
  supposing it true, that all the paper used in those times, at
  Haarlem, came from that great commercial depôt, Antwerp, proves
  nothing, since paper coming from different parts, was doubtless
  sold there); and, _secondly_, we have no proof that it was made
  at that early period. Suffice it for me to add, that neither
  of these paper-marks was to be found among the tracings, made
  by Mr. Koning from the ancient registers of Haarlem, which, as
  I have said, he was so good as to lend to me; and that after a
  diligent search of several months in the extensive collections
  of original Books of Accounts, from 1352 to about 1470, in the
  archives at the Hague, I was unable to discover either of them;
  though at length I chanced to find them both, in a book in sq.
  fol. obligingly lent to me by Mr. De Jonge, now the principal
  archivist at the Hague; viz. the _Fasciculus Temporum_ in Dutch,
  printed at Utrecht, by _Joh. Veldener_, in 1480; though perhaps
  the paper was not made from the same identical sieves or moulds,
  as the paper that is found in the _Speculum_.”

Thus then, Mr. Ottley, who “shews a determined inclination to favour
the claims of Laurent Coster,”[129] also shews, that M. Koning, who
obtained the prize from the Dutch Society of Arts and Sciences at
Haarlem, for the best dissertation in support of the ancient tradition
that the Art of Printing was invented in that city,--is wrong in
his assertions in regard to the paper-marks; and that the earliest
instances of the occurrence of those to which Koning chiefly refers,
the Gothic P, and the arms of Bavaria, are in the years 1445, 1453, and

It follows therefore, from the evidence of the paper-marks, that the
printing of the _Speculum_ could not have taken place before 1445; that
most probably it was not printed earlier than 1453; and that it may
not have issued from the press before even 1480. Consequently, as the
_Speculum_ was the first Dutch work printed with separable types, it
cannot claim priority over the invention of Gutenberg, which, as has
been shewn in the preceding chapter, must have been previous to 1436.

As to the costume and armour of the figures in the vignettes of the
_Speculum_,[130] the following extracts from Sir Samuel Meyrick’s
letter to Mr. Ottley, and the observations of the latter thereon, are
most pertinent. Sir Samuel says:--

  “Next to actual dates, there is no criterion of age so sure as
  _Costume, which, changing on an average within every ten years,
  fixes the real period, almost precisely_; especially, as, all
  its parts not varying at the same moment, the one rectifies the
  vagueness of the other. After costume, ornament is a fair guide,
  as is architecture; and next to these, the style of writing,
  where the subject is a manuscript.

  “You are, no doubt, well aware that the _designers of the middle
  ages_, until the latter part of the seventeenth century, _always
  dressed their figures from the objects before their eyes_; and
  those writers who would fabricate descriptions of what they
  wished should be supposed to have occurred before their times,
  always used the terms of costume applicable to their own period.”

Then follow numerous illustrations and references, in proof of the
position laid down; amongst which are the different articles of armour
used from the reigns of Edward I, to Henry VIII. With reference to some
of these articles, Sir S. Meyrick continues:--

  “On comparing these with what appears in the woodcuts to the
  Speculum, the identity will be evident. It is true that their
  use continued till the close of the fifteenth century; but this
  authority shews that they were also known at its commencement....

  “On a careful review and consideration of the whole, I am
  inclined to think, that the wood-blocks of the Speculum cannot be
  of later date than 1435, and that they may be a little earlier;
  nor is this opinion in the least degree shaken on an examination
  of the rest, besides that of which you more particularly asked

But Mr. Ottley will not venture to assign to the woodcuts so early a
date. He says:--

  “I believe all will agree with Dr. Meyrick, that the artists of
  the times we are speaking of, and of earlier as well as much
  later periods, were universally accustomed to dress their figures
  according to the fashion of their own day, whatever the age of
  the subject they had to represent; and that, therefore _costume_
  (and I might add, the style of art) affords, next to actual
  dates, the surest means of determining the age of an illuminated
  manuscript or other monument.

  “But, I suspect, if Dr. Meyrick means to speak generally, that he
  goes too far, when he says that, by such means, the true date of
  a work of art is to be ascertained to within the short period of
  five or ten years.

  “In the early times we are speaking of, the main articles of
  dress continued so nearly the same for great part of a century,
  that the same suit of armour, and the same gown, descended from
  father to son, and from mother to daughter, and when altered,
  perhaps, in certain small details, rendering them so far
  conformable to the particular fashion of the day, served even for
  a third generation. These _small details_, I admit, may in many
  cases greatly help us; and will sometimes point to a period of
  very small duration. But I suspect, that the _exact_ date when
  one fashion had its commencement, and another went out, is known
  but in very few instances; and it can scarce be doubted but that
  in one country--nay in one part of the same country--certain
  fashions continued to prevail for some time after they had been
  discontinued in another.

  “In addition to this, it seems probable, from the great
  costliness of armour, that when a suit, or part of a suit, had
  become too much out of fashion to be any longer worn by a man
  of rank, it would, instead of being thrown aside as useless
  lumber, be often handed over to one of his dependents: and in
  consequence, in designs and illuminations done in these times,
  it might happen that subordinate figures would here and there
  appear, dressed in costume of a more ancient character than the
  principal personages.

  “Again, I think, that an artist advanced in years, when
  illuminating a manuscript, or making designs to engrave from,
  would often be likely, from habit, to represent his figures in
  costume more or less resembling that which had prevailed in his
  younger days, when he made his studies; and, hence, although he
  would scarcely fail to introduce also certain new changes of
  fashion, too remarkable to be overlooked, his work on the whole,
  would savour more of the costume of former days, than would be
  the case with the performance of a younger artist, executed at
  the same time.

  “But our means of forming a correct judgment of the _date_ of
  these cuts, are not in all respects so complete, as those which
  enable us to determine the country ... Holland has no monumental
  effigies of these times, to which we may refer as authorities ...
  still, did Holland herself furnish us with more numerous
  authorities, we should, I think, be enabled to determine the date
  of the work in question, with fuller confidence than we can do
  under the existing circumstances.

  “To conclude--I have found nothing in the costume of the cuts
  of the _Speculum_, that appears to me to militate directly
  against the supposition that they may be of the early date Dr.
  Meyrick has assigned to them, and, although the argument produced
  by that gentleman to shew that they cannot be later, is not
  perhaps in all respects conclusive, still, considering all the
  circumstances, I could with difficulty persuade myself that the
  work was not _commenced_, at least, within a few years of the
  period he has supposed, and certainly, I should say, not later
  than 1450.”

These reasons, and the conclusion they lead to, on the part of a
writer so decidedly Costerian as Mr. Ottley undoubtedly is, are very
important in a controversy of the kind such as that with which we
are dealing. The 58 cuts of two designs each, and their engraving on
wood, together with the twenty pages of texts, similarly engraved,
must have taken a very considerable time to complete, on the part of
the artist “Beelde-maker,” and “Letter-snyder,” employed upon them.
Supposing then the work of engraving the cuts was _commenced_ in 1450,
and the whole work was _completed_ in three years, we are brought back
to the same date for the earliest probable original printing of the
_Speculum_, that we reached from a consideration of the paper-marks,
a few pages previous; that is, at least thirteen years subsequent to
the death of the man, whom Junius calls the first printer, and who,
all those who have adopted his narrative, insist upon it, was, by
the printing of that book, the original inventor and first practiser
of Typography in Europe; but which, as we have seen, could not have
appeared until more than seventeen years had passed away from the time
when Gutenberg first made his separable metal types at Strasburg.

Enough, and more than enough, has already been stated, to prove
that Laurent Janssoen Coster was not the inventor, nor Haarlem, the
birthplace of the Typographic Art; and that the _Speculum Humanæ
Salvationis_, the first Dutch book printed with separable letters was
not, and could not have been, printed at the place where, and by the
man to whom, from 1588 to 1871, a host of writers, following the lead
of Junius, have attributed it.

But it may fairly be asked,--If that work, as well as the others which
have been imputed to Coster, were not the products of his press, by
whom then were they printed? This question, although one of those
seemingly more easily asked than answered, is yet one that need not
be shrunk from, inasmuch as in the far-off vista of antiquity, and
amid the dim mists of uncertainty which encompass it, certain ancient
landmarks are perceivable, which may serve to guide the inquirer, and
possibly help him to arrive at convictions capable of enduring the test
of examinations as potent and searching as the touch of an Ithuriel’s

Reference has more than once been made to the impulse given to learning
at the end of the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth
centuries. This movement was helped forward by no one in Holland and
Germany more than by Gerhard Groote, or Magnus, of Deventer, (_b._
1326, _d._ 1370), who after studying theology at Paris, became a canon
of Utrecht and Aix-la-Chapelle, and founded the Order of the Brethren
and Clerks of the Common Life, generally known as the “Gemeineslebens,”
or “Frères de la Vie Commune,” but sometimes confounded with the
Beghards and Lollhards of an earlier time. The headquarters of the
Brotherhood was at Deventer, where a College was built and inhabited
by them in the year 1400. Receiving the approval of the Council of
Constance, the Order was propagated throughout Holland, Lower Germany,
and other provinces. “It was divided into the literary Brethren or
Clerks, and the unlearned Brethren, who lived in different houses, but
in bonds of the greatest friendship. _The Clerks devoted themselves
to transcribing books, the cultivation of polite learning, and the
instruction of youth; and they erected schools wherever they went._
The Brethren laboured with their hands, and pursued various mechanic
trades. Neither were under the restraint of religious vows; but still
they ate at a common table, and had a general community of goods. The
Sisters lived in nearly the same manner, and the time which was not
employed in prayer and reading, they devoted to education of female
children, and to such labours as were suitable for their sex. The
schools of these Clerks of the Common Life were very celebrated in
this century, and in them were trained nearly all the restorers of
polite learning in Germany and Holland; and among others the great
Erasmus of Rotterdam, Alexander Hegius, John Murmelius and others.”
Thus far Mosheim. Hallam, in his “Introduction to the Literature of
Europe,” says, “they were distinguished by their strict lives, their
community, at least a partial one, of goods, their industry in manual
labour, _their tendency to mysticism_. But they were as strikingly
distinguished by the cultivation of knowledge, which was encouraged
in brethren of sufficient capacity, and promoted by schools, both for
primary and for enlarged education. These schools were, says Eichhorn,
‘the first genuine nurseries of literature in Germany, so far as it
depended on the knowledge of languages; and in them was first taught
the Latin, and in the process of time the Greek, and Eastern tongues.’
Some of them, such as that of St. Edward’s at Groningen, and the one
at Zwoll, presided over by Thomas à Kempis, were of considerable
reputation. In the year 1430 they had established as many as forty-five
houses in Germany and the Low Countries, and in 1460 they had more than
thrice that number. Amongst other occupations, they busied themselves
in copying and binding books.”

Bound to live by labour, and under a semi-ascetic discipline,
self-abnegation was a distinguishing characteristic of the Frères de
la Vie Commune; while the instruction of youth, and the promotion
of piety, were the objects to which they devoted their lives and
labours. The multiplication of books, which formed a portion of their
occupations, could not but prove a powerful means for assisting them
to the attainment of the objects which they had at heart. These books
were naturally divided into educational and devotional, according to
the classes of individuals for whose use they were designed. Among the
former would be A B C Dariums, Catonis Disticha, Donatuses, Doctrinals,
and such like. Among the latter, the Poor Man’s Bible, the Apocalypse
of St. John, the Book of Canticles, the History of the Virgin, the Arts
of Memory and Dying, and the Mirror of Human Salvation.

As the operations of the Brotherhood extended, and their schools
increased, the greater would be the demand for the above works, and
the more laborious the efforts of the copyists to meet that demand.
At their establishments, whether at Deventer, Bruges, Brussels,
Zwolle, or elsewhere, artists and illuminators would be found among
their ranks. And as Zwolle is known to have been a very early seat of
the engraver’s art, such pictorial embellishments as these artists
designed would speedily be transferred to wood. That such was the case,
and that Zwolle was the place where Block-books were first produced,
seems to be certain, from the fact that in 1489 the Brethren there
used the original blocks of the _Biblia Pauperum_ in printing the
work “Passye ende dat Leven van onsers liefs hern.” The silver cross
and arms of Zwolle are also to be found in the cuts of the Book of
Canticles. As the labours of the copyists increased, and as scrolls and
inscriptions were added to the engraved figures, and the art of the
‘letter-snyder’ was called in to assist that of the ‘beelde-maker,’ and
the ‘formen-’ and ‘figure-snyder,’ there can be no question but that
it not unfrequently occurred to the minds of thoughtful copyists, that
whole texts of books could be so engraved. A representation to that
effect to the chief of the brotherhood would lead to an order to carry
the idea into execution. In the descriptive text of the _Ars Moriendi_
and like works, and in the twenty xylographic pages of the first Latin
edition of the “Mirror of Salvation,” we see the realization of the
idea. But in the course of continually cutting the letters on the
wood, an intelligent ‘letter-snyder’ would be struck by the constant
recurrence of certain letters and combinations of letters,--a fact much
more likely to attract his attention than a copyist’s,--and he would
find, in counting over these letters, that his future labours could
be greatly abridged, by merely cutting as many separate letters and
combinations of each sort, as would suffice for printing a page or two
at a time; the same letters answering again and again for the work in
hand, or for any other that might be required. In the reduction of this
idea to practice, the reason may be seen why the first edition of the
_Speculum_ is partly xylographic and partly typographic.

The success attending these first Dutch efforts at printing with
separable types would at once lead to further applications of the
art in the production of elementary educational books; and as the
reputation of the Brethren as schoolmasters was great, and they were
often invited and sent for by the magistrates of cities to open schools
in Germany as well as in Holland, they would carry such books with
them. The fact of fragments of early Donatuses and Doctrinals being
found in Germany is thus accounted for, without any necessity for
supposing, with Junius and his followers, that the types from which
they were printed were stolen from Coster of Haarlem, and carried away
to Mentz: while sets of types cut by different ‘letter-snyders’ would
also account for the differences observed in the typography of the four
folio editions of the _Speculum_.

Bearing in mind then, the objects to which the Brethren and Clerks of
the Common Life devoted themselves;--the classes of books, educational
and devotional, of which the block-books consisted, and their special
adaptability to promote the objects of the fraternity:--the fact, that
Zwolle was one of the earliest seats of the engraver’s art, as well
as a central station of the brotherhood;--that the original blocks
of the _Biblia Pauperum_ were reproduced at the Brethren’s printing
press there in 1489;--that large editions of these works were never
required,[131] and that therefore one printing establishment might
suffice for the needs in this respect of the whole fraternity;--that
the arms of the city were engraved on one of these books, the Song
of Songs;--that all those with pictorial embellishments, claimed as
Costerian productions, are, in the opinion of so competent a judge as
Ottley, the work of the same artist, or at least of the same school,
as regards design and execution, as the _Biblia Pauperum_;--and that
from the paper-marks, as well as the character of the costume and
armour of the figures in the _Speculum_, that work could not have been
printed until about the year 1453, or later:--the conclusion seems
reasonable, that all the works which from 1588 have been traditionally
attributed to Coster and his alleged successors, came in reality
from the establishment of the Brethren and Clerks of the Common Life
at Zwolle:--and if so, this satisfactorily accounts for there being
neither name nor initial nor date, to indicate either author, designer
or printer; the principles of the fraternity being such as to merge
the individual in the brotherhood, and to make the work of one a
portion of the common work of all.

Setting aside, therefore, the conclusions of Baron Heinecken and Wetter
in regard to the party by whom, and the date when, the _Speculum_
was originally printed, (which nevertheless are not without grounds
for their support), this view of the question gives to some unknown
brother or brethren the merit of having independently worked out the
idea of separable letters on wood about the years 1450-53; thus adding
one more to the number of known instances, when at certain historic
periods the minds of individuals wholly unknown to each other, and in
widely different parts of the world, have almost simultaneously worked
out the same invention, or made the same discovery. Instances of such
coincidences will no doubt at once occur to the minds of intelligent
readers; I shall therefore only refer by way of illustration to the
invention of Photography by M. Niepce and Mr. Fox Talbot, and the
discovery of the planet Neptune by the English and French astronomers,
Adams and Leverrier.

The rarity of copies of works in which the types used in the _Speculum_
have been recognised, is accounted for by the fact of their speedy
supercession by cast fusile metal types, when a knowledge of the Arts
of Typography and Typefounding became spread throughout Europe by the
dispersion of the workmen at Mentz, on the capture and sack of that
city in 1462. Most, if not all of the early printers, were men of
learning. Many of those who first practised the art in the Netherlands
would consequently have been educated by the Brethren and Clerks of the
Common Life; and amongst these some were very probably members of that
fraternity. It is certain that at Brussels (1476) and at Zwolle, as
well as at Rheingau (1474) and Rostock (1476), the Brethren speedily
practised the new art as first brought to perfection at Mentz. And at
one or other of these places, it is much more likely that Veldener
obtained the cuts of the Mirror of Salvation, which he reprinted at
Culembourg in 1483, than that he purchased them from the descendants of
Coster at Haarlem;--a statement which, however much insisted upon by
Dutch, and reiterated of late by French and English writers, is purely
suppositious, and utterly void of the slightest foundation in fact.


[83] Schrijver, P. Laurecrans voor Laurens Coster. Haarlem, 1628. 4to.

[84] Hadrian Junius was born at Hoorn, in 1511, and is said to have
been educated at a classical school of repute at Haarlem. He also
studied at Louvain. He soon shewed himself a person of ability; and
having embraced the medical profession, was appointed physician to the
Duke of Norfolk, and afterwards to the King of Denmark. He is said
to have taken up his abode in Haarlem in 1560, and to have resided
there till 1572, when he quitted the city on account of the siege that
then took place. According to Lypsius, he was the most learned man in
Holland after Erasmus. His work _Batavia_ was commenced late in life,
and completed in January, 1575. His death took place at Middleburg, on
the 16th June of the same year.

[85] The original will be found in the Appendix.

[86] The above translation is taken from the article on Printing in the
Edinburgh edition (1815) of the Encyclopædia Britannica, supplemented
by that given in Stower’s “Printers’ Grammar” (1808.) Both writers are
strong pro-Costerians.

[87] Galius is probably the same who is called _Claes_ Lottynz, Gael,
_Scabinus Haarlemi_, as it is in the Fasti of that city, in the years
1531, 1533, and 1535. Quirinus in the same Fasti is called Mr. Quiryn
Dirkszoon. He was many years amanuensis to Erasmus, as appears from
his epistle 23rd July, 1529, tom iii. Oper. p. 1222. He was afterwards
Scabinus in 1537 _et seq._, and Consul in 1552, _et seq._ But in the
troubles of Holland he was cruelly killed by the Spanish soldiers, May
23, 1563.

[88] Meerman’s Account of the family and descendants of Laurent
Janssoen, vol. i. p. 38, _et seq._

[89] OTTLEY’S _Inquiry_, p. 308.

[90] _Vide_ ch. xvii. of his work.

[91] The writer of these verses was one of the correctors of the press
employed by Schœffer, though his name does not appear. He concludes
with the expression of a desire, which to this day finds a responsive
echo in the bosom of every author and printer whose soul has been vexed
by the blunders of copyists and compositors:--“Oh!” is his pathetic
exclamation,--“if they could succeed in purging the texts of all their
faults!--those who arrange the characters, as well as those who read
the proofs; the friends of literature would then infallibly award to
them a crown of glory, who thus come in aid by their books to thousands
of seats of learning.” It is not at all unlikely that these verses were
the origin of Junius’s assertion, that the name of the workman who
stole Coster’s types and implements, and carried them off to Mentz, was

[92] MALLINCKROT, de Ortu et Progressu Artis Typographicæ. _Coloniæ_,

[93] In order to evade the force of Caxton’s testimony, Costerian
writers assert that he merely recorded the popular belief of the time.
But Caxton, as he himself tells us in one of his works, had been
residing from 1441 to 1476 “in the countries of Brabant, Flanders,
Holland, and Zealand.” During the greater portion of this time he
was the Governor of the Company of Merchant Adventurers, trading in
Brabant, Flanders, &c., and his principal place of residence was
Bruges, not far distant from Haarlem. The merchandise of those days was
not confined to silks and woollens, but included the manuscripts and
books of the period. Caxton, after his appointment to the household
of the Duchess of Burgundy, gave his mind to literary pursuits, and
practised the art of printing at Bruges. He was also well acquainted
with Ulric Zell of Hainault, the first printer of Cologne, at which
city some suppose, on the authority of Wynkyn de Woorde, his successor,
he also printed a book. He could not therefore be ignorant of the facts
of the case. His position and pursuits gave him every opportunity for
ascertaining them; and he was not a man who neglected opportunities
for acquiring knowledge. He must consequently have known and been
well satisfied of the accuracy of the statement he gave currency to.
Had Coster or any of his descendants been printing at Haarlem from
1428 to 1472, as many of these writers allege, Caxton must have known
of it, and would not in such a case have asserted that the “craft of
imprinting was first found in Mogunce in Almayne.”

[94] _A General History of Printing_, by S. PALMER, 4to. _London_,
1733. This work, although ostensibly written by Mr. S. Palmer, a London
printer of some eminence, was in fact the production of the learned

[95] As the Chronicle in which this account is given, is said to
have been finished in the year 1514, Trithemius (_b._ 1462; _d._
1516,) would have heard the particulars from Peter Schœffer, about
the year 1484. The abbot would then have been twenty-two years of
age.--_Meerman_, vol. ii. p. 101, _n._ The manuscript of the Chronicle
was not discovered until near the close of the seventeenth century,
when it was printed at St. Gall in the year 1690.

[96] This fact is much overlooked by writers who invariably refer to
Zell as a German authority. Hainault is a province adjoining South
Brabant and West Flanders, in which provinces are situated the towns
of Haarlem and Bruges, where Coster and Caxton resided. Along with
Holland, Hainault was forcibly annexed by Philip of Burgundy in 1426.
No doubt many of the families opposed to the annexation sought safety
in flight, and among these may be included that of the Zells. But it is
hardly to be credited that Ulric’s love of Fatherland was extinguished
by his expatriation; or that he would give to Germany and Mentz, the
honor that rightly belonged to Holland and Haarlem. All that he says,
amounts to the statement, that Block-book Donatuses were printed
in Holland, before printing, _in the way it is commonly used_, was
invented at Mentz. If, as Costerians contend, “printing in the way
it is commonly used” was known and practised by Laurent Janssoen in
Haarlem from 1428 to 1440, both Caxton and Zell must have known of it;
and would have stated it as a fact. The only inference therefore that
can be drawn from what they say, as well as from what they do not say
on the subject, is, that Typography was invented at Mentz, and was not
known at Haarlem until after the advent of the first printer there in

[97] “Admiranda ars typographica ab ingenioso Johanne Guttenbergio,
anno a nativitate Christi, Domini nostri, 1450, inventa, et posthac
studio, sumtu et labore Johannis Fust et Petri Schœfferi Moguntiæ,
emendata et ad posteros propagata est.”


  Hic ubi postremo descendit gurgite Moenus,
    Excipit et socias littore Rhenus aquas
  Hanc peperit captis antiqua Moguntia muris
    Horrida dum tristis fata canebat avis.

         *       *       *       *       *

  Sæcula bis septem numerabant ordine fati
    Christigenæ, hinc illis lustra decemque dabant,
  Tertius ac orbis Fridericus frena regebat,

         *       *       *       *       *

  Clarus Joannes en Gutenbergius hic est,
    A quo, ceu vivo flumine, manat opus.
  Hic est Aonidum custos fidissimus, hic est,
    Qui referat latices, quos pede fudit equus,
  Quam veteres nobis Argenti voce notarunt,
    A puero fertur sustinuisse virum;
  Illa sed huic civi largita est munera grata,
    Cui clarum nomen Mogus habere dedit.
  Primitias illic coepit formare laboris,
    Ast hic maturum protulit artis opus.
  Stemmate præstabat; vicit virtute sed illud;
    Dicitur hinc veræ nobilitatis Eques.
  _Annulis in digitis erat illi occasio prima_,
    Palladium ut caelo sollicitaret opus.
  Illum tentabat molli committere ceræ,
    Redderet ut nomen littera sculpta suum.
  Respicit archetypos, auri vestigia lustrans,
    Et secum tacitus talia verba refert:
  Quam belle pandit certas hæc orbita voces,
    Monstrat et exactis apta reperta libris.
  Quid, si nunc justos, æris ratione reducta,
    Tentarem libros cudere mille modis?--v.v. 19-66.

[99] Van Opmer was born at Amsterdam in 1526. He studied the classics
at the Universities of Louvain and Delft; and also made himself a
proficient in painting, engraving and architecture. He was known to
Van Zuyren in 1561, the year when Coornhert published his edition of
Cicero’s Offices; and was for some years a resident at Leyden. In 1578
he returned to Amsterdam. He is supposed to have died about the year

[100] I am indebted to Hansard’s _Typographia_, (p. 60) for the above
quotation; it is there quoted from Lemoine, (p. 99) without any further

[101] Van Zuyren.

[102] Coornhert.

[103] Guicciardini.

[104] Dutch writers in accepting this tale of Junius as a genuine
historical fact, have expended a vast amount of ingenuity in
endeavouring to identify the workman and fix the date of the felony.
The result is curious. Scriverius, writing in 1628, indicates John
Gutenberg, in the year 1428; Boxhorn, in 1639, says it was John Faust,
in 1420; Seiz, in 1740, says it was John Gutenberg, between the years
1428 and 1467; Meerman, in 1765, says it was John Gensfleisch the
elder, in 1430; Westreenen, in 1809, says, about 1436, but does not
give any name; Koning, in 1816, says it was Frielo Gensfleisch, between
1420 and 1436; De Vries, in 1822, says it was Johan Gensfleisch, in
1423; and Alb. Thijm, in 1867, says it was one Hans, in 1423. It is
observable that all these writers decline to adopt the date which
Junius fixes upon, antedating the occurrence from four to twenty years.
This, however, they were compelled to do, in order to get rid of
certain facts, which proved that the date 1440 was an impossible one,
if either Faust or Gutenberg was to be criminated.

[105] Humphreys, pp. 45 and 50.

[106] “De Keulsche Kroniek en De Costerlegende van Dr. A. Van der
Linde, te zamen getoetest door Dr. P. Van Meurs.” _Haarlem_, 1870.

[107] “The recently erected statue of Koster at Haarlem, is one of the
finest works of its class that I have ever had the good fortune to
examine. The dimensions are colossal, the work of a French sculptor, M.
Rouger. I could wish the artist were a Dutchman. The attitude of the
statue, nobly draped, and wearing the head gear of the time, is very
impressive. The left hand clasps a book, while the right hand holds
aloft, with an air of triumphant satisfaction, a “type,” by means of
which the book has been, as it were, magically produced.”--HUMPHREYS,
p. 216.

[108] “If,” says SANTANDER, “we examine all the authors without
exception who have written in favour of _Haarlem_, we shall not find
the smallest proof, the least contemporaneous document, in support of
their pretensions; all that we read in them, all that they allege,
reduces itself to the narrative of Junius, which was itself composed
from light hearsay evidence, and which each writer comments upon
according to his fancy.” &c., &c.

“What!” exclaims OTTLEY, “are the fragments of _Donatuses_, found
_in Holland_, and printed in the same type as the Speculum, to
be considered as no evidence whatever of early printing _in that
country_,” &c., &c., &c.--_Invention of Printing_, p. 117.

“_Coster was the first_ to use moveable [cast metal] types.... This
view is not only supported by one of the earliest writers on the
subject, but by ... Ulric Zell,” who says “Item: although this art
was discovered at Mentz at first in the manner in which it is now
commonly used, _yet the first example of it was found in Holland_,”
&c.--BLADES’S _Life, &c. of W. Caxton_, vol. i. p. 59.

[109] After enumerating several works “printed with what may be termed
Kosterian types,” Mr. HUMPHREYS says:--“Thus it is proved, not only
that Koster is not a myth invented by the Dutch to glorify themselves,
and that the ‘Speculum’ is not an isolated and unauthenticated
monument; but that there was in all probability, a Koster (_and if
not, some other native of Holland_) who was the printer of at least
three out of the four editions of the ‘Speculum,’ and that his family
successors, or pupils and workmen, continued to print in the same style
after his death.”--_Hist. of Art of Printing_, p. 65.

“The third edition [of the Speculum] has a much more important
character than the second, being a Dutch translation in prose, printed
by the same double process as the preceding, all the text being
typographic, and only printed on one side of the paper. The issue of
this edition (evidently from the same establishment), in the Dutch
language, is an all sufficient proof of the celebrated ‘Speculum’ being
beyond doubt, the production of a Dutch artisan, or rather artist, _and
if so, why not of Koster?_”--_Ib._ p. 63.

[110] Baron Heinecken, Santander, and others, assign a German origin to

[111] “The Horarium (or more correctly A B C Darium) rendered so
celebrated by the detailed notice of so many learned Bibliopolists,
as one of the earliest efforts of Koster, and by some considered
positively his first experimental work with moveable types, either
of bark (?), wood (?), or metal, I have examined very closely, and
do not consider that it has any claim whatever to be so considered.
It is true, that both type and printing are rude, but that is no
sufficient reason for assigning to it a strictly primitive character,
as many rudely executed works might be cited long after the practical
establishment of the Printing Press. The fact is, that its being
printed on both sides, and the imposition for folding being arranged
after the regular manner adopted when printing with moveable types
was in general use, induce me to believe that it was printed long
after the ‘Speculum,’ probably by the successors of Koster who used
his types. Even the specimens of Donatuses, which I have examined in
Holland (and elsewhere) especially in the Royal Library of the Hague,
under the learned guidance of Dr. Holtrop and Mr. Campbel, lead me to
the conviction that they were not essays by Koster anterior to the
production of the ‘Speculum.’ It is true, that I was shewn a specimen
of a Donatus printed on vellum, and _on one side only_, which has been
recovered from the binding of an old Dutch book. But I look upon it as
a rough ‘proof,’ that was never completed, and eventually used like
ordinary waste to stiffen bindings.”--HUMPHREYS, p. 215. This Horarium
was discovered in the binding of an old book, forming in fact a portion
of the binding. The pages are printed on vellum on both sides; and it
has been pointed out that the letter i has a modern peculiarity in
being dotted, instead of having, as in the ancient manuscripts and
printed books, a stroke above it, thus, í. Enschedé who discovered the
work, published a fac-simile of it in 1768. Chatto, who critically
examined it, says, in Jackson’s Treatise on Wood-engraving (2d edit.
1861, p. 162,) “It is certainly such a one as he was most wishful
to find, and which he in his capacity of type-founder and printer
would find little difficulty in producing. I am firmly convinced that
it is neither printed with wooden types, nor a specimen of early
typography. I suspect it to be a Dutch typographic essay on popular
credulity.”--This I think a harsh judgment; and, of the two, I prefer
to believe, with Humphreys, that Enschedé was mistaken in supposing
the pages he found to be a work, perhaps the earliest work, of Coster,
rather than with Chatto, to suspect that he forged it himself.

[112] The Town-hall at Haarlem possesses a collection of Costerian
relics, but Mr. Humphreys says (p. 215) “they are not, as it seems to
me, so important as many writers have deemed them.”

[113] _Inquiry_, pp. 202-203.

[114] “The works which may almost to a certainty be ascribed to the
Costerian press after the death of the inventor, and the publication of
the _Speculum_, are various editions of the Donatus, Catonia Disticha,
Laurentii Vallensi Facecie Morales, Ludovici Pontani de Roma Singularia
in Causis Criminalibus, Gulielmus de Saliceto de Salute Corporis,
Horarium, Alexandri Galli Doctrinale, Petri Hispani Tractatus,
Francisci Petrarchæ de Salibus Virorum Illustrium et Faceciis
Tractatus, &c., all of which are without date or name of printer, but
are issued from the same press, and the types of which, perfectly like
those in the Speculum, cannot be attributed by any such similarity to
any other printing office either in Germany or even in Holland and the
Low Countries.”--P. H. BERJEAU, p. xxxvi. _Introd. to OTTLEY’S Inquiry_.

[115] MEERMAN considered that this edition was the first, and only one
printed by Coster, between the years 1430 and 1440; that the Latin
edition with twenty pages of block-printing came next; then the other
Dutch, and lastly the second Latin. HUMPHREYS (p. 56,) concludes that
all four editions were printed by Coster, the first being the one
with twenty pages of xylographic text. OTTLEY allows him one, and the
greater part of another. Of the first edition (following Humphreys’
classification), ten copies are known--two in the Bibliothèque
Nationale at Paris, one in the British Museum, one in the Bodleian
library at Oxford, one in the Spencer library, and five in Holland. Of
the second edition there are six copies--one in the Imperial library
at Vienna, one in the Palazzo Pitti at Florence, the third, without
preface, in the Town Hall at Haarlem, the fourth with but 40 pages, in
the library at Hanover, the fifth in the Royal library at Brussels;
and the sixth and most perfect, the Inglis copy in the possession of
Mr. Quaritch. Of the third edition (the first Dutch) copies are in the
libraries of Lord Spencer, and Mr. Westreenen Von Tiellandt at the
Hague; the fine copy formerly in the Enschedé collection is now in
England. Of the fourth edition, only three copies are known--one in the
Town Hall of Haarlem, the second in the public library of that city,
and the third in the library at Lille. It is possible there may have
been a larger number of early folio editions, as several of the above
copies appear to have been made up from more than one.

[116] “De l’Origine et des Débuts de l’Imprimerie en Europe.” _Paris_,

[117] “Essai Historique et Critique sur l’Invention de l’Imprimerie.”
_Paris-Lille_, 1859.

[118] Mr. Humphreys concludes from his examination of the Dutch copy
of the _Speculum_, formerly in the Enschedé collection at Haarlem,
that this edition was “by far the most finely executed.” It was sold,
on the dispersion of the Enschedé collection in 1867, for 700 guineas.
The purchaser, Mr. Quaritch of Piccadilly, it is understood has since
resold it in England at a considerable advance. The same spirited
bibliographer bought the Inglis copy (sold in 1871)--a specimen of the
Latin edition with all the text in moveable types, in the most fine and
perfect condition,--for £525.

[119] From the fact that Enschedé was a printer and type-founder, his
opinion has had great weight with subsequent writers. I have no doubt,
however, but that his eagerness to secure for his own countryman and
birth-place the honour of the invention of metal types, blinded him
to the evidence which the letters in the _Speculum_ present to the

[120] PRUNELLE, au Magazin Encyclopédique de 1806.

[121] In plate 10, opposite page 295 in Mr. Ottley’s work, fac-similes
are given of the types of the _Speculum_, taken from the text beneath
cuts 17 and 18. In these the capital D occurs twice, O three times, Q
three times, S twice, T thrice, and V twice. And in every instance the
differences are such as to shew that it was impossible for the several
specimens of each of these letters to have been cast from a mould
taken from either a pattern or a touched-up-type. What is true of the
capitals is equally true of the smaller letters. The word ‘Tres’ for
instance, occurs three times running, repeated exactly one under the
other, thus affording the best possible condition for comparison. Each
of the T’s--each of the compounded re’s,--and each of the s’s differ;
they could not have been cast from the same matrix, nor could any one
of them have stood for the original of successive mouldings for the
rest, as suggested by Mr. Ottley.

[122] “Der Heilsspiegel und alle andere Druckwerke, welche Meerman dem
Laurens Koster und seinen Erben zuschreibt, sind alle mit gegossenen
Typen gedruckt, und zwar gar nicht schlecht. Es ist unmöglich, mit
hölzernen Buchstaben von solcher Kleinheit zu drucken.”--_Krit. Gesch.
der Erf. der Buchdruckerkunst_, p. 590.

[123] For the whole of his argument see pages 620-692 of his work. His
object is to shew the probability that all the four folio editions may
have been the work of Veldener at Utrecht. At page 654 he says, “that
almost all the types used in the Netherlands have their original in
those of the Rhine “Officinen,” is seen from the resemblance of the
types of the Brethren of the Common Life at Marienthal on the Rhine,
to those of Therhoernen of Cologne, and the Brethren at Brussels.
Witness the fac-similes 1, 2, and 3, of Tab. 11, and especially all the
fac-similes of Tables 9, 10, 11, and 12, (with the exception of Nos. 4
and 8 of Tab. 12.) Even the types of the _Speculum_ are nothing else
than a diminution of the types of the 42-line (Mazarin) Bible, with
sundry alterations in the capital letters.--The Dutch work of Ludovicus
de Roma, ‘Singularia in causis criminalibus,’ (1471,) is printed with
types, which, with the exception of the capital letters, are almost all
such exact copies in size and shape of those of the Mazarin Bible, that
they could cover each other reciprocally.”

[124] “Idée Générale d’une collection complete d’Estampes.” 8vo.
_Leips._ 1771.

[125] See WETTER, p. 23.

[126] M. BERNARD; and P. C. VAN DER MEERSCH, in his “Recherches sur
la Vie et les Travaux des Imprimeurs Belges et Néerlandais, établis a
l’étranger.” 8vo. _Gand_, 1856:--are here referred to.

[127] The manuscript from which these extracts are taken was brought to
light by the Abbé Ghesquiere of Cambrai, in the year 1772. See “Esprit
des Journaux,” June 1779, Nov. 1779, and April 1780.

[128] “Notice sur Colard Mansion, Libraire et Imprimeur de la Ville de
Bruges.” 8vo. _Paris_, 1829.

[129] M. BERJEAU, in Introduction to Ottley’s Inquiry concerning the
Invention of Printing, p. xxxvii.

[130] The discussion of this subject occupies the last 65 pages of Mr.
Ottley’s work, the careful perusal of which will well repay the student
of this most interesting branch of archæological research.

[131] See _ante_, p. 86.

Early Typography.



The first book published by Faust and Schœffer, after their separation
from Gutenberg, was a beautiful folio edition of the Psalter, finished
on the 14th August, 1457. This is the celebrated work, so often alluded
to, the first to which the name of the printer was affixed, as well as
that of the place where, and the date when, it was printed. It is from
this circumstance that the origin of the Art of Typography has been by
certain early writers attributed to Faust rather than to Gutenberg.
The fine large Gothic type with which the book is printed, (22 lines
to a foot,) is exactly double the size of that cut for the ‘Mazarin’
Bible. The initial capital letters, of which there are in all 288,
are from four to six lines in depth, printed in red and blue, with
ornamental flower-work and figures cut in the body of the letter, and
bordered with scroll-work running into the margins. In the case of the
commencing initial, the letter B, this scroll-work extends from the
top to the bottom of the page. The capitals commencing each sentence
in the body of the work, are also in red ink, as well as whole lines
interspersed here and there. The music is on a staff of four lines
instead of five, the notes square-headed and diamond-shaped, the words
beneath being in roman characters. These portions of the work are
engraved on solid blocks. At the end of the Psalter is inserted the
Faust and Schœffer badge, which thenceforth appeared in all their
works.[132] This consisted of two shields (on which were their coats
of arms) suspended from the branch of a tree. Beneath this was the
following imprint or colophon:--

  “Presens spalmorum codex venustate capitalium decoratus
  Rubricationibus que sufficienter distinctus, Adinventione
  artificiosa imprimendi et caracterizandi absque calami ulla
  exaratione sic effigiatus. Et ad eusebiam Dei industrie est
  consummatus[133] Per Johannem Fust Civem moguntinum Et Petrum
  Schöffer de Gernszheim. Anno domini Millesimo CCCCLVII. In
  vigilia Assumpcionis.”

The declaration contained in this colophon seems incompatible with the
truth, as well as with the admissions of Schœffer himself, on other
occasions, unless it be understood as applying to the exquisite initial
letters, these being printed wholly in colours, instead of being
sketched in by the hand of the rubricator or coloured by illuminators.
These very letters however, it is believed by some, including Mr.
Humphreys, (see p. 86 of his work,) were the work of Gutenberg; and
M. Fischer in his interesting essay[134] has shewn, that in several
small works[135] which issued from Gutenberg’s press before the
forfeiture of his plant to Faust, the identical letters (the smaller
initials) used in the Psalter, as well as some of those printed in two
colours, and of which he has given fac-similes, appear. But if, as
there is abundant reason to believe was the case, Schœffer was engaged
as an assistant at the Zum Jungen at, or soon after the year 1450,
when Gutenberg first obtained advances from Faust, these capitals,
the beauty of which is undisputed, may have been, and most probably
were, designed by him for the projected works for which the money was
advanced; and, as his ‘inventions,’ and not the work of Gutenberg, they
would be included in the property which was transferred to Faust on
the termination of the law-suit. Looked at from this point of view,
they may be thought to justify the assertion in the colophon of the
Psalter of 1457, although there can be no doubt but that that work was
partly completed while the whole property was still in the possession
of Gutenberg, and that therefore to him must be attributed the honour
of planning, and cutting the fount of types with which it was executed.

“The most perfect copy known of this work, (says Mr. Timperley,) is
that in the Imperial Library of Vienna. It was discovered in the year
1665, near Innspruck in the castle of Ambras, where the Archduke
Francis Sigismund had collected a prodigious quantity of manuscripts
and printed books; taken for the most part from the famous library of
Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary, from whence it was transported to
Vienna. The book is printed in folio on vellum, and of such extreme
variety, that though not more than six or seven copies are known to
be in existence, all of them differ from each other in some respect.
The Psalter occupies one hundred and thirty-five, and the recto the
hundred and thirty-sixth, and the remaining forty-one leaves are
appropriated to the litany, prayers, responses, vigils, &c. The Psalms
are executed in larger characters than the hymns; the capital letters
are cut in wood, with a degree of delicacy and boldness which are
truly surprising: the largest of them--the initial letters of the
Psalms--which are black, red, and blue, must have passed three times
through the press.”

From 1457 to 1466 the following works were printed by Faust and

(1) The Psalter, 2d edition.--1459.

(2) Rationale divinorum Officiorum Guillelmi Durandi.--1459.

A folio work consisting of 160 leaves, with the text in two columns
of 63 lines each. For this work two new founts of type were cast, of
smaller sizes than those used for the Psalter of 1457, and Bible of
1455. The first was of the depth of 53 lines to a foot; the smaller 66,
equivalent to the _English_ of type-founders of the present day. The
latter was used for the body of the work.

(3) Constitutiones Clementis V. Papæ cum Apparatu Joannis Andreæ.--1460.

This consisted of 51 leaves of folio, two columns to a page. The text
was in the larger of the above two types, surrounded by a glossary or
commentary, ten times its bulk, in the smaller type. Of this work two
subsequent editions were published in 1467 and 1471.

(4) Manifest des Erzbischofs von Mainz, Diether von Isenburg, gegen
Adolph von Nassau.--1462.

(5) Biblia Sacra Latina Vulgatæ editionis, ex translatione et cum
præfatione S. Hieronymi.--1462.

This is the Bible commonly known as the ‘Mentz,’ in order to
distinguish it from the ‘Mazarin.’ It is the first published with
a date; the colophon being nearly the same as that appended to the
Psalter of 1457. It is, however, believed that it was originally issued
with the intention of selling it as manuscript; that portion of the
colophon containing the words “artificiosa adinventione imprimendi
seu caracterizandi absque calami exaratione,” being omitted from some
of the copies. The subsequent insertion of the above words, it is
supposed, was owing to the compulsion of circumstances, which will be
hereafter alluded to. The book consists of 1001 pages, each in two
columns of 48 lines of the same type as that used for the text of the
‘Constitutiones.’ Copies were printed on both vellum and paper, many of
the larger initials being beautifully illuminated.

(6) Bulla cruciata Sanctissimi Domini nostri Papæ (Pii II.) contra

The heading is in the Psalter type, the text in that of the ‘Rationale.’

(7) Liber sextus Decretalium Domini Bonifacii Papæ VIII. cum

A work of 141 leaves of large folio, in double columns. The type of the
text is the same as that of the Bible of 1462; the glossary is in that
of the ‘Rationale.’

(8) M. T. Ciceronis De Officiis Libri III Paradoxa et Versus XII

This work, “the first tribute of the new art to polite literature,”
and the first in which Greek characters (cut in wood) appeared, is a
handsome quarto (or small folio) of 88 leaves[136] with 28 lines to a
page, in the same type as the ‘Rationale.’ The striking peculiarity of
this book is, that it is the first in which ‘leads,’ spacing the lines
apart from one another, are used. Great care seems to have been taken
to print it with the utmost elegance. The fine large initial letters
of the Psalter of 1457 were again used, printed in blue and red inks;
and in some copies the blank spaces left for illuminated letters were
filled up in the highest style of art. The most elaborately finished
specimens are decorated with borders round the pages, in the same style
and evidently by the same hand that was employed for that purpose, on
the superb copies of the Mazarin Bible of 1455. That the printers were
growing proud of their art is evident by the colophons they now used.
That to the Decretals is in the following terms:--

  “Presens hujus sexti Decretalium opus alma in urbe Magontia
  inclyte nationis Germanice, quam Dei clementia tam alto ingenii
  lumine donoque gratuito ceteris terrarum nacionibus preferre
  illustrareque dignatus est. Non atramento, plumali canna, neque
  ærea, sed artificiosa quadam adinventione imprimendi, etc. etc.
  per Joh. Fust civem et Petrum Schoiffer de Gernsheym. Anno. Dom.
  MCCCCLXV. die verò 17, mensis decembris.”

The colophon to the ‘Offices’ differs. It is as follows:--

  “Presens Marci Tuly clarissimum opus. Johannes Fust Mogintinus
  civis non atramento plumali canna neque ærea, sed arte quadam
  perpulcra, Petri manu pueri mei feliciter effeci finitum Anno

(9) Grammatica vetus rhytmica.--1466.

A work of eleven leaves of small folio, in the type of the ‘Rationale.’
The concluding lines are as follows:--

  “Actis ter denis jubilaminis octo bis annis
   Moguntia Rheni me condit et imprimit amnis
   Hinc Nazareni sonet oda per Ora Johannis
   Namque sereni luminis est scaturigo perennis.”

In the same year the book “S. Augustini Liber de Arte Predicande”
appeared. It is attributed to the press of Faust and Schœffer, but I
have no means of further particularising it.

The year 1462 was memorable for the siege and sack of Mentz by the
Elector Archbishop, Count Adolphus of Nassau. After the capture of
the city, Faust proceeded to Paris with a supply of Bibles, amongst
which were no doubt a goodly number of the edition only just then
completed. Tradition has it, that he sold one of these Bibles to the
King for 750 crowns, and another to the Archbishop for 300; and that
gradually lowering his prices he at last disposed of copies for 50 and
40 crowns a-piece.[137] The King and the Archbishop, comparing their
purchases, which they had bargained for as manuscripts, found so exact
a conformity between them, as to be convinced that they were produced
by some other method than that of transcribing; besides which, it was
impossible that two such Bibles could be executed by the same hand in
a lifetime. Upon inquiry, it was found that a considerable number of
similar copies had been sold in the city. Hereupon orders were given
to apprehend Faust, who was accordingly seized, tried for witchcraft,
and condemned to be executed as a wizard in league with the Devil. So
runs the tale; in which fact and fiction have been strangely blended,
the latter greatly predominating,--John Faust the banker, and one of
the three first printers of Mentz, being confounded with Jean Frederic
Faust, a charlatan and almanac maker of the sixteenth century, who to
ensure his almanacs a large sale, advertized them as actually dictated
to him by Beelzebub. It was thus that the legend obtained currency,
that Faust of Mentz invented printing in consequence of a compact
entered into between himself and the Evil One. The diabolical stigma
once attached to the profession, the monks and scribes, the ‘brief-men’
of the day, took care that it should remain. Hence the origin of
the term “Printer’s Devil,” the by no means complimentary honorific
bestowed upon youngsters on their first initiation into the mysteries
of the Divine and Noble Art.

No doubt the sale of his Bibles in Paris, the great book-mart of the
day, excited a considerable cabal against Faust, on the part of the
scribes; who would readily enough assert that such works could only
have been produced by the aid of witchcraft. An assertion of this
nature was, at that time, dangerous in the extreme to the party against
whom it was made. Authors, writing shortly after the time of Faust’s
visit, say that such a charge was made, and that he had to leave the
city in consequence. The most effectual way of rebutting it would be
the avowal of the method adopted in bringing out the work, and this
was done by the insertion, in freshly printed leaves, of the words
mentioned in page 358 as having been omitted from the early copies. It
has been urged, that it was impossible for Faust to have attempted the
imposition of passing these Bibles off as manuscripts, inasmuch as he
had already divulged the fact of his printing such works in the imprint
to the Psalter of 1457. But that imprint applied to that work alone;
and Faust, who was a sharp man of business, would not have purposely
omitted from the imprint to the Bible, that part of the sentence which
notified that the work was done “by a newly invented art of casting
letters, printing,” &c., unless he had intended to derive a profit by
so doing. There does not however, seem to be any foundation for the
assertion that he was brought to trial. His absence from Paris was a
very temporary one. It is certain he was well received by persons of
eminence there, and ultimately succeeded in establishing an agency for
the sale of his books in the city, in spite of the opposition of the
scribes. In 1466, he made another business visit to Paris, where he
was taken ill, and died, as some suppose, of a pestilence which was
raging at the time, to which, as he was then seventy-one years of age,
he would have fallen an easy victim. His remains were interred with
honor, in the Church of St. Victor. “An anniversary mass was afterwards
appointed to be said for the repose of his soul, on the presentation
by Peter Schoiffher and Conrad Fust of a copy of the ‘Epistles of
Jerome,’ printed on parchment, and considered so important a work,
that the Abbé of St. Victor deemed it right to pay back the sum of
twelve gold crowns, the work exceeding by that sum the value of the
fees due for the annual masses. This fact is contained in an entry
in the ‘Necrology of St. Victor,’ which is preserved at Paris, in
the Bibliothèque Nationale, (MSS. fonds St. Victor). The copy of the
‘Epistles of St. Jerome’ here alluded to is now in the library of the

After Faust’s death, Schœffer continued the business in partnership
with his father-in-law Conrad Faust, who did not however take an active
share in its management, and who died about the year 1479. Conrad Helif
and Dr. Humery seem also to have been for a time connected with him.
From 1467 to 1503, the date of Schœffer’s death, he printed, according
to Wetter, 49 works,[139] several of which were second, third, fourth,
fifth and sixth editions of those previously issued. The agency which
John Faust the elder had established in Paris for the sale of his
books, became an emporium to which other printers besides Schœffer
sent the productions of their presses. This was managed by one Hermann
de Stathoen, who had been appointed by Schœffer; but he dying in Paris,
in 1474, an unnaturalized foreigner, the whole stock of books in his
charge was confiscated by the King, Louis XI. Schœffer at once made
such representations to the monarch as led to a royal decree, awarding
him the sum of 2425 crowns, by way of compensation for the confiscated
property. Besides the agency at Paris, Schœffer established business
relations at Frankfort-on-the-Maine, where in 1479, he was entered on
the roll of burghers. In 1489 he became one of the secular judges of
Mentz. A wealthy, an honoured, and an influential citizen, he died, it
is supposed, in the year 1503. His last work was a fourth edition of
his celebrated Psalter, published in 1502. The next year, his eldest
son, John, issued the “Mercurius Trismegistus,” which is declared in
the imprint to be his first work, and by him the business was continued
until 1538.[140]

The death of Schœffer brings us to a point in the narrative, where we
may pause a moment, to note the progress of the art, of which, next to
Gutenberg, he was the most eminent founder. Perhaps no art ever rose to
perfection with such rapidity, after its groundwork had been completed,
as that of Typography. Little more than thirty years had elapsed from
the time of printing the _Biblia Pauperum_ from wooden blocks, when
Gutenberg’s separable hand-cut letters were followed and superseded
by Schœffer’s cast fusile metal types. The art, which with Faust’s
assistance, Gutenberg founded and Schœffer perfected, remains to this
day essentially the same that it was in 1455. Steam power and machinery
may to a large extent have superseded the old hand-press invented by
Gutenberg; and the art of stereotyping may also have multiplied the
power of the types in disseminating and cheapening useful knowledge;
but the foundation and principles of Letter-press Printing remain
unaltered and unalterable. Types, ink, and pressure, still produce
books as they were first produced, and the finest productions of the
present day are not superior in Typographic beauty, or aught else that
stamps a work a masterpiece, to the best efforts of the Fathers of the
Art, four hundred years and more ago.

It has been reserved for the Nineteenth century to render due honor to
the “grand Typographical Triumvirate,” as they have been termed, for
the noble Art by which

  “New shape and voice the immaterial thought
   Takes from the invented speaking page sublime;
   The Ark which mind has for it refuge wrought,
   Its floating Archive down the floods of Time.”

With this object in view, the Gutenberg Society, to which all the
writers of the Rhenish provinces belong, meet yearly at Mentz, there
to celebrate the fame of Gutenberg, the chief inventor. And in 1837,
a grateful posterity, animated by similar sentiments, erected in the
same city, in commemoration of the Four Hundredth anniversary of the
Origin of the Art, a monumental statue to his memory. On the festival
at the inauguration of the statue (August 14, and following days), the
Provost of Mentz published an address, to the following sentences from
which every reader will doubtless most cordially assent. “If,” says
the ardent Provost, “the mortal who invented that method of fixing
the fugitive sounds of words which we call the Alphabet, has operated
on mankind like a divinity, so also has Gutenberg’s genius brought
together the once isolated inquirers, teachers and learners,--all the
scattered and divided efforts for extending God’s kingdom over the
whole civilized earth,--as though beneath one temple. Gutenberg’s
invention, not a lucky accident, but the golden fruit of a well
considered idea,--an invention made with a perfect consciousness of its
end,--has, above all other causes, for more than four centuries, urged
forward and established the dominion of science; and what is of the
utmost importance, has immeasurably advanced the mental formation and
education of the people. This invention, a true intellectual sun, has
mounted above the horizon, first of the European Christians, and then
of the people of other climes and other faiths, to an ever-enduring
morning. It has made the return of barbarism, the isolation of mankind,
the reign of darkness, impossible for all future times. It has
established a public opinion,--a court of moral judicature common to
all civilized nations, whatever natural divisions may separate them, as
much as for the provinces of one and the same state. In a word, it has
formed fellow-labourers at the never-resting loom of Christian European
civilization in every quarter of the world, in almost every island of
the ocean.”

The example set by the citizens of Mentz was a few years later
followed by those of Strasburg, in which city, as already stated,
Gutenberg’s earliest efforts were made; nor were the inhabitants of
Frankfort-on-the-Maine long behind,--excelling even those of Strasburg
and Mentz, by combining in one grand group the statues of Gutenberg,
Faust and Schœffer. Of these several specimens of the sculptor’s art
Mr. Humphreys gives the following account:--

  “It was not till the nineteenth century that worthy memorials of
  the great founder of the Printing-Press in Germany were erected.
  The first was that at Mayence. As a statue it is not equal to the
  one of Coster at Haarlem, although the work of Thorwaldsen. It
  was executed at Rome in 1835, and cast in Paris in 1837. The gown
  of the period with its fur collar, or rather cape, is effective
  enough as a mere matter of costume, and so is the furred cap
  closely copied from supposed authentic portraits of Gutenberg.
  One hand holds a book, and the other, types; but the general
  effect is tame and unimpressive. It is well that the great name
  of Thorwaldsen should be thus allied to that of Gutenberg, but
  it is not one of the great Dane’s most successful works. The
  inscription, stating that it was erected by the citizens of
  Mayence, with the concurrence of the whole of Europe, is grandly
  simple, as it ought to be.

  “The statue at Strasburg, the scene of Gutenberg’s first
  typographic efforts, is the work of the celebrated French
  sculptor David d’Anger, and the market-place in which it is
  erected is now called La Place Gutenberg. The position of the
  figure is full of life and spirit; a proof-sheet is held proudly
  forward, bearing the inscription, as though in answer to one of
  the first fiats of Creation--‘Let there be light.’ It is intended
  to express that, through the medium of the Printing Press,
  intellectual light came, as expressed in the words, ‘And there
  was light.’ On the pedestal are four bassi-relievi, in which
  the dissemination of knowledge by means of the Printing Press
  is illustrated. In the one on the front, all the great authors
  of modern Europe are grouped round a Printing Press; among them
  Shakespeare, Corneille, Bacon, Dante, Voltaire, and Goethe, are

  “The Memorial at Frankfort is, on the whole, more impressive
  than either of the preceding. It consists of three separate
  statues, forming together a single group. The statues are those
  of Gutenberg, Faust and Schœffer, who each assisted in the first
  great work of founding the Printing Press in Germany, and whose
  memorials found a fitting place in the imperial city, which was
  still the seat of the Germanic Diet at the time of the Memorial
  in 1837. The subsidiary figures which embellish the face of the
  structure,--Literature, &c., &c.--are very good and appropriate.
  The entire composition is imposingly raised on steps connected
  with the secondary pedestals, which support the allegorical
  figures. Altogether, the memorial is a fine one. But it has one
  defect--there is no name nor description of any kind--so that
  travellers unacquainted with the subject, might mistake the group
  for that of any other celebrated triumvirate. A statue, even
  of Shakespeare, should be accompanied at least by the simple

Still, although Gutenberg is most justly entitled to the honour
of being considered the inventor of the Art of Typography, as now
practised in Europe, he was not, in fact, the first who printed
books from separate moveable types. In this, as in block printing,
the Chinese again bear away the palm. For, singularly enough, it is
ascertained that although the general mode of printing in China is, and
always has been, from wooden blocks, yet separable letters were known
to the Chinese as early as the Eleventh century. For a time, single
characters made of clay and baked hard were used in that empire, but
were soon abandoned for the mode now almost universally practised,
except for the Imperial Calendar, published once a quarter, and the
Pekin Gazette, issued daily, which are still wretchedly printed from
moveable types made of a plastic gum.

The account of the invention is too interesting to be omitted. In the
period King-li (between 1041 and 1048) one of the people, a blacksmith
named Pi-ching, invented another manner of printing with _ho-pan_,
or tablets formed of moveable types. This name is still retained in
the Imperial Printing Office at Pekin. On a fine and glutinous earth,
formed into plates, Pi-ching engraved the characters most in use.
Each character was a type. These he burnt in the fire to harden them.
When he wished to print he took a frame of iron, divided interiorly
and perpendicularly by strips of the same metal (Chinese being read
vertically); this he laid on a table of sheet iron coated with a
fusible gum composed of resin, wax, and lime; he then inserted the
types, placing them one close against the other. Each frame, when
filled, formed a tablet. This was brought near the fire to make the gum
melt, after which a level piece of wood was pressed forcibly on the
surface of the types, by which means they were pushed down into the
gum and became firm and even as a stone. The tablets were then printed
from in the usual manner. When a new character was wanted it was
immediately prepared on the spot, and the inventor shewed the advantage
of clay over wood; there was neither grain nor porosity, with a greater
facility of separation from the gum when required for distribution.

At Pi-ching’s death, all this apparatus was carefully preserved by his
successors. Printing, however, went on in the old way, the reason being
that the Chinese has not, as other languages, an alphabet made up of
a few characters, with which all sorts of books may be printed, but a
separate type is wanted for every word; and as the language is divided
into classes of 106 sounds, so 106 cases (part of the furniture of a
Printing Office) would be required, each one to contain a prodigious
number of types, thus rendering the mechanical task of composing and
distributing, one of enormous difficulty and labour. It was easier and
cheaper to follow the usual method, and print either from blocks of
wood or plates of stereotyped copper.[142]

All honour to the memory of Pi-ching, the Chinese blacksmith! One might
almost be tempted to suppose, did we but believe in the doctrine of
metempsychosis, that after a lapse of 400 years, disgusted at the
neglect of his invention in the East, his spirit migrated to the West,
and that in Gutenberg he was permitted to be born again. A like spirit
animated them both, and to the end of time their labours will live and
their memories be blest.

The account given in the foregoing description of the method of
composing his types used by Pi-ching, is not very dissimilar to that
said to have been adopted by the first Typographers of the Western
World. Frames, or coffins, were made of planks of wood, in which
rectangular hollows were cut the size of the pages to be printed; and
in these the types, after having been strung together, were placed in
horizontal lines, the ends of the lines and the bottoms of the pages
being tightly wedged in, to prevent slips and damage while on the press.

All works printed during the first few years after the invention of
Typography, were of the size of large or small folio. The latter was
what is now-a-days called quarto, from the sheets being folded into
four;--then, for the smaller size, whole sheets were cut into two, on
each of which two pages were printed, in order to suit the presses,
and the stocks of type the printers possessed. These sheets, or half
sheets, were printed in sections of 3, 4, or 5, called ternions,
quaternions, and quinternions. On the backs of these sections strips
of parchment were sometimes pasted, to guard against tears when the
sheets were stitched together by the book-binder. The first and third
pages so printed were called those on the _recto_ of the sheet, the
second and fourth those on the _verso_. A quaternion consisted of eight
formes; the first, containing pages 1 and 16, and the second 2 and 15,
formed the outer sheet; the next sheet consisted of pages 3 and 14,
4 and 13, the third and fourth formes; the third sheet consisted of
pages 5 and 12, 6 and 11, the fifth and sixth formes; the fourth sheet
consisted of pages 7 and 10, 8 and 9, the seventh and eighth formes;
the next quaternion commenced with pages 17 and 32, and so on. When all
the formes were printed, the sheets of which the quaternion consisted
were folded one inside the other, the pages then reading regularly
on from the first to the sixteenth. So long as books represented
fac-similes of manuscripts,--which was the object originally aimed
at,--to print in this way was a matter easily accomplished. But as
the new art drove out the old, and scribes turned compositors and
pressmen, and manuscripts came to be carelessly written, this could
no longer be done. Larger founts of type then became necessary, to
enable the printer to complete the whole number of pages contained
in the section; and to avoid this necessity as much as possible,
quartos, octavos, and duodecimos would be resorted to, a single sheet
folded and re-folded serving equally as well in binding as a ternion,
quaternion, or quinternion of folio sheets. This, of course, led to
the ‘imposition’ of pages in formes of 4, 8, and 12 pages and upwards,
according to the size of the book printed.

Title-pages, folios, running head-lines, catch-lines, signatures, and
imprints with dates and names, were matters about which the Fathers of
Typography did not at first much concern themselves. Their orthography,
as well as their divisions of words, was arbitrary; their abbreviations
abominable, and their punctuation absurd; the comma and the semicolon
were unknown, the points made use of being an oblique dash (/) the
colon (:) and the full point (.); these were occasionally varied as
follows, ./ /. /˙ ./˙ ˙/. // ∴ .:. ∴:∴ &c. A straight dash | supplied
the place of a hyphen, and a parallel || indicated the end of a
paragraph. The first leaf of a book was generally left a blank, and a
blank space was left at the head of the commencing chapter of a work,
to be filled up with a vignette or an illuminated scroll. Spaces were
also left for initial capitals, and for capitals commencing sentences,
when small letters were not used instead. These were so left in order
to be filled in by the rubricator, who sometimes carelessly inserted a
wrong letter. Names of persons and places were printed indifferently
with or without capitals.[143] But in all these matters the printers
merely followed bad examples--that of the scribes whose downfall they
were effecting. One feature is especially characteristic of the oldest
books, viz. the irregularity of the lines on the right hand margin of
the columns or pages, particularly when the larger kinds of type were
used. This arose from the mode of composing, which interfered with
the spacing out of the words to the ends of the lines. When however
that ingenious implement, the metal composing stick--the printer’s
space-compelling gauge,--was invented, this defect was remedied; and
before the first generation of printers passed away, all the blemishes
above recounted had disappeared from the works of those who deserve
to be distinguished as Masters in their Art. The engraving given
below will explain the nature of this implement better than any
written description. The slide, running parallel with the head, with
its slotted foot into which was inserted the nut for the screw which
passed through and fastened it down to the ledge on which the types
rested, enabled the compositor to ‘set’ his types with accuracy to any
measure required, and to space out the words to the right hand, so as
to make them line in the margin as straight and even as the commencing
letters on the left hand. With the aid of the useful adjunct to the
‘stick,’ the ‘setting-rule,’--(a strip of brass the height and length
of the line, with a projecting neb at the top right hand corner)--he
could compose line after line with ease and speed. The special use
of the ‘rule’ was to prevent the letters as they were lifted into
the ‘stick,’ catching on those of the line below, which, without the
interposition of the polished strip of brass, they were liable to do
from the nicks in their shanks. When the ‘stick’ was full, he could
also with the assistance of the ‘rule’ empt out its number of lines
into his ‘galley,’ where, when a sufficient number was collected,
they would be made into pages, ready for the forme. The inventor of
the composing stick is not known; but as it appears in the hands of
the compositor in the engraving facing page 116, and the original of
that engraving was first printed about 1498, and the ‘stick’ must have
then been in use for some time; and as the principle of the slide is
analogous to that which would be adopted in regulating the width of the
chamber in the moulds for casting types, it is highly probable that
the credit of its invention is due to Schœffer, who had previously
immortalized himself by inventing the art of type-founding.


Besides the appearance of the insides of early printed books, their
ordinary outside bindings demand attention here. Many of the finer
specimens were cased in sumptuous covers, in which the art of the
goldsmith and jeweller was richly displayed; but for common use a stiff
sheet of parchment generally sufficed, the edges of which were folded
in, a blank leaf being pasted over them. Others, somewhat superior,
had boards of beech or oak for their sides, over which was pasted a
sheep-skin leather, on which figures were stamped or embossed;[144]
while others again had stiff covers made of waste sheets, or remnants
of unsaleable copies, cut down and pasted together. These last
have furnished many unique specimens of the works of the earliest
printers; and whenever any such are suspected to lie beneath an ancient
book-cover, the cover is carefully removed and subjected to a variety
of processes to separate its parts, and compel it to give up to the
ardent gaze of the palæotypographist, its possible treasure of an
invaluable unique specimen of the work of a Gutenberg, a Schœffer, a
Zell, a Jenson, a Martens, a Caxton, or some other worthy of the olden


[132] “The early printers generally marked their publications by
some monogram or cipher peculiar to themselves, and containing their
initials, their arms, or some curious device. These are all well known
to the initiated bibliopole, and their presence on a title-page is
received as evidence of the genuineness of a scarce copy. The oldest
of them is that of Faust and Schœffer, annexed to their first Psalter,
and consisting of two shields tied together and hanging from a branch.
Raphelengius, of Leyden, adopted the anchor; Sporinus of Basle, chose
the arion; Jansen of Amsterdam, the sphere; the Elzevirs exhibited
the olive tree, and the celebrated Aldus had for a device, the anchor
and dolphin.”--(“History of Printing,” published by the Society for
Promoting Christian Knowledge). Gotfridus de Os, of Gouda, had for his
device an elephant and castle, combined with the arms of the city.

[133] In the colophon to the second edition of this Psalter, printed
in 1459, the word ‘spalmorum’ is corrected to ‘psalmorum,’ and instead
of the words “ad eusebiam Dei industrie est consummatus” etc.,
the following occur:--“ad laudem Dei ac honorem sancti Jacobi est
consummatus per Johannem Fust, civem moguntinem et Petrum Schoiffer de
Gernszheim clericum. Anno Domini millesimo CCCCLIX, XXIX die mensis

[134] “Essai sur les Monumens Typographiques de Jean Gutenberg, à
Mayence, l’an X.” [1801.]

[135] Among the works referred to was a Donatus. Mr. HUMPHREYS,
remarking upon these letters, says:--“If these initials, of which M.
Fischer gives admirable fac-similes, were really executed under the
direction of Gutenberg, they must of necessity greatly enhance the
wonder and admiration felt for the author of the marvellously perfect
workmanship of the first Bible; and also detract, to an equal extent,
from the repute long held by Schoiffher as the Printer of the famous
Psalter, with its fine coloured initials vaunted as the work of the
press alone, and not produced by the illuminator’s pencil; for if M.
Fischer be correct in attributing the work in question to Gutenberg,
then the credit of the initials printed in colours in the Psalter
must also be given to Gutenberg, as all the lesser initials in that
noble specimen of the printer’s art, are the identical letters found
by M. Fischer illustrating the ‘Donatus’ attributed by him without
hesitation to the press of Gutenberg, as being printed with the same
type as the first Bible. The fine free style of these letters, and
their perfect execution, is very remarkable.... That the ‘Donatus’ in
question was printed, not only before Schoiffher’s Psalter, but also
before the Bible, appears incontrovertibly proved by the fact, that the
five leaves in question of this ‘Donatus,’ were found in the cover of
a book of accounts dated 1451. The testimony of M. Fischer is above
suspicion; but it is to be regretted, that this most important and
interesting monument of the labours of Gutenberg is now no longer to
be found. At the time that M. Fischer’s examination and description
were made, it was in the public library of Mayence; but at that time
several national monuments were removed to Paris, and others lost in
the general ransacking that took place, and the interesting ‘Donatus’
described by M. Fischer is among the documents now no longer to be
found either at Paris or Mayence. Although it would thus appear that
the credit of the letters in question is due to Gutenberg, I shall have
some further remarks to make on the subject in describing the famous
Psalter of Schoiffher. The Bibliothèque Nationale possesses two leaves
of a ‘Donatus’ printed with Gutenberg’s Bible type.”--_Hist. of Art of
Printing_, p. 77.

[136] WETTER, p. 527; but HUMPHREYS, p. 88, says “twenty-eight
leaves.” Not being in a position to make a reference to any copy of
the work itself, I am unable to say which of these authorities is
right. One of the finest specimens of this work extant, is that in
the celebrated Astor Library at New York. The paper is as clean and
the ink as fresh as the day on which it was printed. There are also
in this Library several other Typographical treasures. Amongst them
will be found the “Catholicon” of John of Genoa, printed at Augsburg
in 1469; two specimens of Caxton, one of them a few leaves of the
“Recuyell des Histories de Troye,” printed in 1471, and the other,
Higden’s “Polychronicon,” printed in London, 1482. Glanville’s “De
Proprietatibus Rerum,” printed by Wynken de Worde, the successor of
Caxton, in 1494, is also a handsome specimen.

[137] The differences in these prices lead to the conclusion that the
higher prices must have been given for copies of the Bible of 1455, and
the lower for those of 1462; the charge made for each varying according
to the amount of ornamentation in illuminated letters and marginal

[138] HUMPHREYS, p. 89.

[139] The following is a brief list of these works:--

   1. Thomas de Aquino, secunda secunde, 1467.
   2. Clementis V. Constitutiones, 2d edit. 1467.
   3. Institutiones Justiniani, 1468.
   4. Grammatica vetus rhytmica, 2d edit. 1468.
   5. Thomas de Aquino, Expositio quarti libri sententiarum, 1469.
   6. Bonifacii VIII. Liber Sextus decretalium, 2d edit. 1470.
   7. Hieronymi Epistolæ, 1470.
   8. Mammotractus, sive Dictionarium vocabulorum, 1470.
   9. Decretalium liber Sextus, 3d edit. 1470.
  10. Valerius Maximus, liber factorum, etc. 1471.
  11. Clementis V. Constitutiones, 3d edit. 1471.
  12. S. Thomas, Prima pars secunde, 1471.
  13. Biblia Sacra Latina, 1472.
  14. Decretum Gratiani, 1472.
  15. Justiniani Institutiones, 2d edit. 1472.
  16. Bonifacii VIII. liber Sextus decretalium, 4th edit. 1473.
  17. Augustinus, de civitate Dei, 1473.
  18. Gregorii IX. nova compilatio decretalium, 1473.
  19. Turrecremata, Expositio psalterii, 1474.
  20. Henrici Herp Speculum aureum, 1474.
  21. Justiniani codex institutionum, 1475.
  22. S. Bernardi Sermones, 1475.
  23. Bonifacii, &c., 5th edit. 1476.
  24. Turrecremata, &c., 2d edit. 1476.
  25. Justiniani, &c., 3d edit. 1476.
  26. Bonifacii, &c., 6th edit. 1476.
  27. Decisiones rote Romane, 1477.
  28. Justiniani Novellæ constitutiones, 1477.
  29. Pauli Burgensis Scrutinium Scripturarum, 1478.
  30. Turrecremata, Expositio super psalterio, 1478.
  31. Bartholomæi de Chaymis confessionale, 1478.
  32. Gregorii IX. Decretales, 1479.
  33. Turrecremata Meditationes, 1479.
  34. Joannis de Wesalia Paradoxa, 1479.
  35. Agenda Moguntina, 1480.
  36. Herbarius, 1482.
  37. Missale Moguntinum, 1483.
  38. Herbarius cum herbarum figuris, 1484.
  39. Ortus sanitatis, 1485.
  40. Missale Ecclesie Misniensis, 1485.
  41. Breviarium Moguntinum, 1487.
  42. Missalium opus ad usum Ecclesie Cracoviensis, 1487.
  43. Legenda et miracula S. Goaris, 1488.
  44. Psalmorem Codex, 1490.
  45. Chronecken der Sassen, 1492.
  46. Missale Moguntinum, 2d edit. 1493.
  47. Ordnung des kaiserl. Kammergerichts, 1495.
  48. Missale Wratislaviense, 1499.
  49. Psalterium, 1502.

[140] Another son, or perhaps a grandson, Peter, established himself
as a printer in the city of Worms, not far distant from Mentz. It
was at his press that William Tyndale’s version of the first English
translation of the New Testament was printed (in 1525 or 1526), after
failing to get it done at the press of P. Quentell of Cologne. A press
was established at Friesingen in 1495, by Joann. Schæffler.

[141] _Hist. of Art of Printing_, p. 216.

[142] “One of the most remarkable typographical displays in the great
Exhibition of 1851 was the collection of Chinese types, or at least
types to represent Chinese characters, in the Zollverein department.
They were manufactured by Beyerhaus of Berlin, for the American
Missionary Society. The Chinese vocabulary is made up of a number of
distinct words, which are not built up from component letters, as in
European languages, but have a good deal of the hieroglyphic effect
about them. To imitate these words or characters by moveable types has
always been deemed a difficult matter. M. Beyerhaus has analyzed the
lines and dots of the Chinese language, so as to make 4200 letters
out of them, or elements which will serve the compositor in lieu of
letters. The steel punches of all these 4200 types were shewn; and by
various combinations of them, about 24,000 Chinese words or characters
can be imitated; and it was very interesting to see copies of the
Bible and the New Testament printed in Chinese by the aid of these
types.”--_Curiosities of Industry_--Printing; its Modern Varieties, by
G. DODD, p. 4.

[143] This may sometimes have been owing to a scarcity of capital
letters. An amusing story is told of a jobbing printer, who was seen
printing the label “Lodgings to let,” in gold capital letters on a blue
ground, with the second G left out. Upon the omission being pointed out
to him, he said “Pshaw! I should like to know why a printer should not
spell Lodgings with one G, when he has but that one in his fount!”

[144] Some of these bindings were wonderful specimens of patient
labour. Wooden boards as thick as the panels of a door, studded with
large brass nails with ornamented heads and massive metal corners, for
sides, the backs solid with paste and glue, and the fronts fastened
with heavy clasps, were by no means rare. Sometimes these covers were
so made as to serve as receptacles for relics. Scaliger tells us that
his grandmother had a printed Psalter, the cover of which was two
inches thick, the inside forming a kind of cupboard in which was a
small silver crucifix; and Mr. Hansard relates having seen an ancient
book, in the cover of which was a recess for a relic--a human toe!



Joh. Fried. Faust, ein Sohn des im Jahre 1619 verstorbenen Schöffen
des Reichsgerichtes und Rathes zu Frankfurt, erzhält, aus den
Familienpapieren, welche die Fauste von Aschaffenberg (Abkömmlinge der
Fuste von Mainz) in ihrem Archive aufbewahrten, die Geschichte der
Erfindung in folgender Weise:--

“Diese jetzt erwähnte und andere mehr Scribenten, welche es von
Hörensagen theils genommen, theils von einander entlehnet, seind
nicht allein an dem Ort und der Zeit, sondern auch an der Person vom
ersten Anfenger zweifelhafftig, ja gar ohngewis, und ist uns Teutschen
nicht ein geringer Spott, dass wir solche edle Kunst zu allererst
von Gott empfangen, und so mancherlet frembde Historien und Auctores
lesen und schreiben, den unter anderen vortrefflichen Sachen, nicht
eine Gewissheit des ersten Anfengers, ihme und gantzem Teutschland
zu ewigen unsterblichen Ruhm und Lob, solten auch in getruckten und
also unsterblichen Zeugnüssen beglaubt machen und beweisen, und so
lange Zeyt im Zweiffel haben stecken lassen. Darumb habe ich nicht
unterlassen können, dieser Sachen und Kunst gantzen Verlauf und Anfang,
so viel ich dessen aus glaubhafften alten Zeugnüssen und _Documentis_,
wie auch von meinem Vatter seelig, und der von seinen Eltern und
also fortan, _quasi per aures et manus_ eingenommen, auch zum Theil
aufgazeichnet hinterlassen, der Wahrheit und Kunst ja vielmehr Gott zu
ehren, ettwas umstendlich zu erzehlen und zu beweisen.”

“Und ist anfänglich wahr, dass ein Bürger, eines ehrbarn Geschlechts
und Herkommens zu Mentz gewohnet, so Johann Faust geheissen; dieser
den _Studiis_ sehr ergeben, hat betrachtet, wie manch edles _ingenium_
aus Mangel der Bücher, die sogar eine lange Zeyt und hohen Verlag
abzuschreiben erfordert, und nicht in eines jeden Beutel gestocken,
ohnbillig verliegen, ja gar verderben müssen, und derowegen lang
nachgesonnen, wie doch allerhand nützliche Bücher mit weniger Mühe
gemannigfeltigt, und um geringen und billichen Preys mitgetheilt
werden könten. Solchem seinem wohlmeinenden nutzlichen Wunsch und
Vorhaben hat Gott wohlerspriesliches Mittel und _Modell_ gezeiget,
also dass er eine _Alphabet_ Taffel, erstlich in einem _Format_ mit
erhöheten Buchstaben geschnitten. Es hat ihm aber grosses Nachsinnen
erfordert, bis er besondere Tinten darzu erfunden; dann die gemeine
Tinte ist in den Buchstaben von Holtz und in Holtz geschnitten,
verflossen, und hatt alle Buchstaben zusammengehengt, so haben auch
die Licht-Flammen, daren Rus er sich auch zu gebrauchen unterstanden,
ob sie wohl einen ziemlichen Abdruck geben, dannoch keinen Bestandt
haben wollen, bis endlich eine schwartze zähe Tinten erfunden worden,
die einen Bestandt gehabt. Als solche erfunden und solche Taffeln mit
kleinen Pressen leichtlich zu trucken erst an Tag kommen seynd sie mit
groser Verwunderung umb geringen Preys von jedermänniglich erkaufft
und berühmt, und er darauf weiters fortzufahren verursacht worden,
und den _Donat_ ebenmässig an Tag gegeben. Weil aber derselbige auf
gantze Bretter geschnitten, ohngleich an Buchstaben gefallen, und auch
sonst sich bald abtruchen lassen, hatt Erfinder der sich erinnert,
das es besser were, mit eintzlichen Buchstaben und A. B. C. ein Buch
zu setzen, als mit gantzen _columnis_ oder _paginis_ zu schneiden.
Derowegen hat er die Bretter von einander geschnitten, die gesammten
Buchstaben herausgenommen, und damit die Setzerey angefangen, und die
abgegangene Buchstaben mit newen ersetzet.”[145]

“Weil aber solches mit ohnaufhörlicher Arbeyt geschehen müssen, und
sehr langsam von statten gehen wollen, hatt es abermahl nicht geringe
Hindernuss der angefangenen Kunst, auch der Pressen halben, geben
wollen, darüber der Erfinder nicht in geringe Sorg und Schwermuth
gerathen. Nun hatt er aber bey solcher _Invention_ etliche Diener
gehabt, die ihm solch Truckerei verrichten und in andern nöthigen
Sachen, als Dinten sieden, setzen, und dergleichen fleissige Hand und
Hülfte gebotten. Unter denen ist einer Peter Schöffer von Gernsheimb
genannt, gewesen, welcher als er seines Herrn Vorhaben erlerntt, und
selbst Lust darzu bekommen, hatt ihm Gott das Glück und Gab eingeben,
wie man nemlich die Buchstaben in Buntzen schneiden und nachgiessen,
und also vielmahls mannigfaltigen könne, und nicht jeden Buchstaben
oftmahls einzeling schneiden müsse. Dieser hat in geheim eine Buntzen
von einem gantzen _Alphabet_ geschnitten, und seinem Herrn sampt den
Abgus oder _Matricibus_ gezeyget, welches dam seinem Herrn Johann
Fausten so wohl gefallen, dass er vor Frewden ihme sobald seine Tochter
Christinam zur Ehe zu geben versprochen, und balden nachmalen auch
solches würcklich vollzogen.”

“Es hatt aber mit dem Abdruck oder Nachguss dieser Buchstaben eben so
viel Mühe genommen, also mit den Höltzern, dann man lang gekünstelt,
biss man eine gewisse _Mixtur_ so der Gewalt der Pressen eine gute
Zeyt ausstehen könne, erfunden. Als solches auch glücklich erfolget,
damit solch edle Gab Gottes in geheimb verbleiben möge, haben Schwäher
und Tochtermann ihre Gewerken mit Eydpflichten verbunden, solch
Sachen alle in höchster Geheim und Verschwiegenheit zu halten, haben
auch die Bretter und ersten Anfang, wie auch die höltzern Buchstaben
in Cortel oder Schnur eingefasst, aufgehoben und zu zeyten guten
Freunden gezeiget. Quæ primordia avum meum Doctorem Joh. Faust inque
manibus suis Donati primam partem inter cætera vidisse MSStum posteris
nobis relictum testatur.”[146] (D. h.: Dass mein Grossvater, der
Doctor Johann Faust, diese Anfänge und, unter andern, den ersten
Theil des Donats gesehen und in Händen gehabt habe, bezeugt eine uns
Nachkömmlingen zurückgelassene Handschrift.)

“We hart aber sie ihre Gewerken verknüpfet, und sich diese Kunst in
geheim zu halten unterstanden, hat es doch aus sonderlicher Schickung
Gottes nicht seyn wollen noch sollen. Dann es hat sich begeben, dass
Johann Faustens nechster Nachbawer Johann von Gutenberg (man ist
auch der Meinung, dass Johann Faust und Gutenberg zusammen in einem
Haus genannt zum Jungen in Mentz, gewohnet haben, dahero solch Haus
den Nahmen auch von der Truckerey nachmahlen behalten) innen worden
dass solche edle Kunst nicht allein einen grossen Ruhm bey aller Welt
gemacht, sondern auch einen guten und erlichen Gewin gebracht, darumb
er sich freundlich zu gemelten Fausten gethan, und seine Dienste
mit Darschiessung nothwendiges Verlags anerbotten, welches er Faust
gerne angenommen, bevorab weil das Werk, so er zu trucken vorhatte
uff Pergament zu verfertigen, einen grosen Kosten erforderte darob
sie sich vereiniget und einen aufgeschnittenen Zettel oder _Contract_
nachfolgend beygesetzen Inhalts aufgerichtet, dass was auf solch Werk
gehen würde, zu Verlust und Gewinn ins gemein gehen, und alles was
darzu gehörete, uff gemeinen Sold entlehnet und aufgenommen werden
solte. Weil aber er Faust mehr aufgenommen und der Unkosten höher
geloffen, als Gutenberg vermeinet, hatt er solchen halben Theil nich
zahlen wöllen, darüber sie beyde vor das weltliche Gericht zu Mentz
gerathen, das hatt auf alles Ein- und Vorbringen, auch geschenen
Beweistum erkannt würde Johann Faust mit lieblichen eyd betewren,
dass solch uffgenommen Geld auf das gemeine Werk gegangen, und nicht
ihme allein zu Nutz kommen sey, solte Johann von Gutenberg solches
zu erlegen schuldig seyn. Solchem Rechtsspruch hat Johann Faust im
Refender zu Mentz zun Barfüssern ein Genügen gethan wie aus copeylich
beygesetzten _Instrument_ gründlich und wahrhafftig zu ersehen.
Aber Johann von Gutenberg ist darüber sehr zornig worden, darumb
er nicht allein bei Anhörung des eydt nicht gewesen, sondern auch
bald darauf von Mentz sich hinweg gen Strasburg gethan, vielleicht
daselbst seinen eygenen Verlag gehabt, und sindt ihm dahin etliche
Gefährde nachgefolget, und eine gäntzliche Trennung geschehen, dass
solche herrliche Kunst nicht mehr ist geheimb behalten blieben,
sondern allenthalben von _dato_ angeregten _Instruments_, so _An. 1455
datiret_ ausgebreitet worden. Und Hans von Petersheim, ein Diener
Johannes Fausten und Peter Schöffers, im vierten Jahr hernach Ao. 1459,
zu Frankfurt, andere, sonderlich als Mentz; Ao. 1462 verräthlichen
erobert, und umb ihre Freyheit kommen, folgends anderstwo sich
niedergethan, und solche Kunst ohngescheuet getrieben, offenbahret,
und gemein gemacht haben. Est ist auch diess Unglück mit zugeschlagen,
dass als sie ein vornehm Juristisch Buch gen Paris in Frankreich uff
Pergament gedruckt, geführet und die Wahlen [Wallischen oder Wälschen]
ihnen solche Kunst missgönnet, das Buch in Laugen gestossen, und mit
Kratzbürsten auszuthun, aber vergeblich, unterstanden, sie solche
_Exemplaria_ alle, unter dem Schein als ob der Trucker eine frembde
Waar ohne _Special_ Erlaubnuss des Königs in Frankreich gebracht,
_confiscirt_, darauf er _repressalias_ vom Kayser Fridrichen III.
verlangt, und soviel frantzözische Kaufleute niedergeworfen, dass er
seines Schadens wohl zukommen, und viel Französische Waare in sein
Haus allerhant _Sorten_ bekommen, dass die Sach endlich durch beyde
_Potentaten_ verglichen, uffgehoben, ut er Peter Schöffer befriediget

Man sieht, dass in diesem Berichte über den Gang der Erfindung der
objektive Thatbestand, besonders was die Anfänge betrifft ganz
richtig erzählt wird, und dass er nur _quoad personas_ verfälscht
ist; indem Fusten das zugeschrieben wird, was Gutenbergen angehört.
Es erbellt ferner daraus, dass er weder aus Trithems Werken noch aus
dem Lobgedichte des Bergellanus geschöpft ist; da er umständcher als
beide in’s Einzelne der Verfahrungsweisen eingeht. Auch die Angabe,
Fust und Schöffer hätten nach Erfindung der gegossenen Buchstaben ihre
Arbeiter mit Eiden zur Geheimhaltung der Kunst verbunden, die ersten
Holztafeln aufgehoben, die einzelnen hölzernen Buchstaben in Schnüre
gefaszt und nur zu Zeiten guten Freunden gezeigt, deutet, als auf
ihre Quelle, auf handschriftliche oder mündliche Ueberlieferungen,
die sich in der Familie Fust erhalten haben müssen. So haben sich in
dem an die Herren von Glauburg übergegangenen Familienarchive des
mainzischen, nach Frankfurt ausgewanderten Patriziergeschlechtes zum
Jungen viele die Familie Gutenberg betreffenden Urkunden, und darunter
auch das bei dem Prozesse zwischen Gutenberg und Fust errichtete
Notariatsinstrument erhalten. In dem Archive der Familie Faust, welche
von Aschaffenberg nach Frankfurt gekommen, und dort durch Heirath
unter die Patriziergeschlechter aufgenommen worden ist, hatten sich
gewiss ähnliche Urkunden und Nachrichten über die Angelegenheiten
der Familien Fust und Schöffer erhalten, wie auch in dem Berichte,
bei 1 und 2, ausdrücklich gemeldet wird. Joh. Friedrich Faust, durch
Familieneitelkeit verleitet, verfälschte sie nur in Betreff der
Personen, indem er (so wie Johann Schöffer in seinen Schluszschriften
die Erfindung allein seinem Grossvater Fust zuschreib) demselben
Fust, den er mit Recht für seinen Ahnen hielt, alle Ehre zuwendete,
und zu diesem Behufe sogar das Instrument des Notars Helmasperger
verdrehte.--WETTER, pp. 271-277.


[145] As wooden types were the first with which the original printers
made their earliest essays in the art of Typography in Europe, it
is interesting to learn that in America such types are now being
used to so great an extent, that it requires the aid of the most
finished machinery to supply the demand that has arisen for them. The
following account of their manufacture is condensed from a narrative
in the _Boston Weekly Spectator_ (Oct. 12, 1871).--About 1853 Mr.
William H. Page, originally a printer, entered into the employ of Mr.
J. G. Cooley, a wood type cutter at Greenville. Noticing the many
defects of the process he busied his mind in devising and inventing
methods for its improvement. Succeeding in his efforts, he started
in business on his own account; and in 1869, having bought out Mr.
Cooley, transferred the whole of the works to Norwich, Eastern
Connecticut. Here, with extensive and perfect machinery, and from 35
to 40 workpeople, one-seventh of whom are females, he supplies the
greater part of the wooden types used throughout the United States.
The process of manufacture is as follows:--All ordinary wood type is
made of rock-maple, which grows abundantly in Connecticut. The logs are
first sawed across the grain into blocks an inch and an eighth thick,
then steamed to force out the sap, and when dried, packed away in the
seasoning house for two years. When wanted for type, they are taken to
dressing machines, where horizontal revolving cutters rapidly smoothe
and reduce their size with perfect uniformity; they are then skilfully
planed by hand, next gum-shellaced, and dried for half a day, and sand
papered, which process is again repeated. After this, they are taken to
felt buffing wheels, covered with beeswax and tallow, which, revolving
with exceeding swiftness, thoroughly polish the surfaces on which the
letters are to be cut. The blocks are then sawed into the desired
shapes, and transferred to the letter makers. These place the prepared
blocks in a machine not much unlike in its appearance to an eccentric
lathe, although it is not one. Set in one angle of a horizontal frame
like a pentagraph, is a pencil or tracer, moved by the hand of the
operator exactly in the lines of a stationary pattern or model letter.
In an opposite angle, and directly over the block to be carved, is a
corresponding pencil of fine steel, in reality a small bit, or gouge,
which is belted to the driving power, and makes from 17,000 to 20,000
revolutions a minute, following minutely all the lines and flexions of
the tracer on the pattern. A skilful operator can thus make a letter
in half a minute. This part of the work is chiefly performed by girls.
After leaving the cutter the letters are further dressed by a trimmer
who gives them their finishing touches, when they are thoroughly oiled
with linseed oil, and packed for transport to wherever ordered. The
ordinary size of letters, used for Advertising placards, is 1 ft.
8 in., though occasionally some are ordered 14 ft. long, [made and
printed in sections it is presumed]. These monster letters are made
of a softer white wood, and gouged out on a great machine called a
“router.” The smallest size manufactured is about one-third of an inch.
[_B. W. S._] This is just the size of the types used for the “Appeal
to Christendom against the Turks,” printed at Mentz in 1454 or 1455.
What steam-driven machinery is doing for wooden types it is also doing
in another form for types of cast metal. The greatest number that an
expert workman could cast by the hand-mould process was about 1800 in
an hour. After many years of costly experimentalizing, and frequent but
not wholly fruitless failures, a machine was at last perfected in 1862,
by which as many as 7600 letters an hour are turned out. With type
manufactured at this rate, with steam type-composers that put together
40,000 letters an hour, (the invention of Mr. A. Mackie of Warrington),
and with steam printing machines capable of perfecting 12,000 sheets
(equal to 24,000 impressions) in the same space of time, (the _Times_
“Walter” machine, invented by Mr. J. C. Macdonald); the latter half of
the nineteenth century is truly an era of marvels in all that concerns
Letter-press Printing.

[146] Dr. Van Der Linde treats this writer with but scant ceremony. He
says, (p. 76 of Hessels’ Translation) “The father of this arch-liar had
written frankly and in accordance with truth--‘Joh. Faust (Fust) war
Mitverleger der Buchdruckerei in der Stadt Mentze; etliche wollen wider
seiner Dank ihn zu einem Inventorem haben und macken, so aber nur mit
seinem Vermögen und guten Rath in der That geholfen.’--‘Joh. Faust was
partner in the printing office at Mentz; some persons would make an
inventor of him against his own wish; he really helped only with his
money and good advice.’”


Dicam igitur quod accepi a senibus et autoritate gravibus et Reipublicæ
administratione claris, quique a majoribus suis ita accepisse
gravissimo testimonio confirmarunt, quorum auctoritas jure pondus
habere debeat ad faciendam fidem. Habitavit ante annos centum duo de
triginta Harlemi, in ædibus satis splendidis (ut documento esse potest
fabrica, quæ in hunc diem perstat integra) foro imminentibus e regione
Palatii Regalis, Laurentius Joannis cognomento Aedituus Custosve (quod
tunc opimum et honorificum munus familia eo nomine clara hæreditario
jure possidebat) is ipse, qui nunc laudem inventæ artis Typographicæ
recidivam justis vindiciis et sacramentis repetit, ab aliis nefarie
possessam et occupatam, summo jure omnium triumphorum laurea majore
donandus. Is forte in suburbano nemore spatiatus (ut solent sumpto
cibo aut festis diebus cives, qui otio abundant), cœpit faginos
cortices principio in litterarum typos conformare, quibus, inversa
ratione sigillatim chartæ impressis, versiculum unum atque alterum
animi gratia ducebat, nepotibus, generi sui liberis exemplum futurum.
Quod ubi feliciter successerat, cœpit animo altiora (ut erat ingenio
magno et subacto) agitare primumque omnium atramenti scriptorii genus
glutinosius tenaciusque, quod vulgare lituras trahere experiretur,
cum genere suo Thoma Petro qui quatuor liberos reliquit, omnes ferme
consulare dignitate functos (quod eo dico, ut artem in familia honesta
et ingenua, haud servili, natam intelligant omnes), excogitavit, inde
etiam pinaces totas figuratas additis caracteribus expressit. Quo in
genere vidi ab ipso excussa adversaria, operarum rudimentum, paginis
solum adversis, haud opistographis. Is liber erat vernaculo sermone
ab auctore conscriptus anonymo, titulum præferens: _Speculum nostræ
salutis_, in quibus id observatum fuerat inter prima artis incunabula
(ut nunquam ulla simul reperta et absoluta est) uti paginæ aversæ
glutine cohærescerent, ne illæ ipsæ vacuæ deformitatem adferrent.
Postea faginas formas plumbeis mutavit, has deinceps stanneas fecit,
quo solidior minusque flexilis esset materia durabiliorque; e quorum
typorum reliquiis, quæ superfuerant, conflata œnophora vetustiora
adhuc hodie visuntur in Laurentianis illis, quas dixi ædibus, in forum
prospectantibus, habitatis postea a suo pronepote Gerardo Thoma, quem
honoris causa nomino, cive claro ante paucos hos annos vita defuncto
sene. Faventibus, ut fit, invento novo studiis hominum, quum nova
merx, nunquam antea visa, emptores undique exciret, cum uberrimo
quæstu creuit simul artis amor, creuit ministerium, additi familiæ
operarum ministri, prima mali labes, quos inter Joannes quidam, sive
is (ut fert suspicio) Faustus fuerit ominoso cognomine, hero suo
infidus et infaustus, sive alius eo nomine, non magnopere laboro, quod
silentum umbras inquietare nolim contagione conscientiæ, quondam dum
viverent, tactas. Is ad operas excusorias sacramento dictus, postquam
artem jungendorum characterum, fusilium typorum peritiam, quæque alia
eam ad rem spectant, percalluisse sibi visus est, captato opportuno
tempore quo non potuit magis idoneum inveniri, ipsa nocte, quæ Christi
natalitiis solennis est, qua cuncti promiscue lustralibus sacri operari
solent, choragium omne typorum involat, instrumentorum herilium, ei
artificio comparatorum, supellectilem convasat, deinde cum fure domo se
proripit, Amstelodamum principio adit, inde Coloniam Agrippinam, donec
Magontiacum perventum est, ceu ad asyliaram, ubi quasi extra telorum
jactum (quod dicitur) positus tuto degeret, suorumque furtorum aperta
officina fructum huberem meteret. Nimirum ex ea intra vertentis anni
spacium, ad annum a nato Christo 1442, iis ipsis typis, quibus Harlemi
Laurentius fuerat usus, prodisse in lucem certum est _Alexandri Galli
Doctrinale_, quæ Grammatica celeberrimo tunc in usu erat, cum _Petri
Hispani tractatibus_, prima fœtura. Ista sunt ferme, quæ a senibus
annosis, fide dignis, et qui tradita de manu in manum, quasi ardentem
tædam in decursu acceperant, olim intellexi, et alios eadem referentes
attestantesque comperi. Memini narasse mihi Nicolaum Galium, pueritiæ
meæ formatorem, hominem ferrea memoria et longa canitie venerabilem,
quod puer non semel audierit, Cornelium quendam bibliopegum ac senio
gravem, nec octogenario minorem (qui in eadem officina subministrum
egerat) tanta animi contentione ac fervore commemorantem rei gestæ
seriem, inventi (ut ab hero acceperat) rationem, rudis artis polituram
et incrementum, aliaque id genus, ut invito quoque præ rei indignitate
lachrymæ erumperent, quoties de plagio inciderat mentio: tum vero
ob ereptam furto gloriam sic ira exardescere solere senem, ut etiam
lictoris exemplum eum fuisse editurum in plagiarium eum fuisse editurum
in plagiarium appareret, si vita illi superfuisset: tum devovere
consuevisse diris ultricibus sacrilegum caput, noctesque illas damnare
atque execrari quas una cum scelere illo communi in cubili per aliquot
menses exegisset. Quæ non dissonant a verbis Quirini Talesii Cos,
eadem fere ex ore librarii ejusdem se olim accepisse mihi confessi,
etc.--_Batavia_ p. 253, _et seq._


  [The Haarlem Legend of the Invention of Printing by Lourens
    Janszoon Coster, critically examined by Dr. A. VAN DER LINDE.
    Translated from the Dutch by J. H. HESSELS, with an Introduction
    and a Classified List of the Costerian Incunabula. _London_,
    Blades, East, and Blades. 1871. Roy. 8vo. pp. xxvi. and 170.]

A copy of the above work having reached me while the preceding sheet
was being prepared for press, I am singularly gratified to find, that
by means of a wholly independent process of investigation, I have
arrived at a conclusion, almost identical, on the main point, with that
to which other and more direct sources of information have led Dr.
Van Der Linde. Writing for English readers, and dealing chiefly with
the statements and arguments of the leading English Costerians, the
confirmation thus given to my views is as great as it was unexpected.

Dr. Van Der Linde shews, most conclusively, that the whole story of
the Origin of Printing in Haarlem arose from the fabrication of a
pedigree by an innkeeper named Gerrit Thomaszoon, who was sheriff of
Haarlem in the year 1545, and who died about the year 1563 or 1564.
This pedigree, made a few years before his death, traces his descent
from one Thomas Pieterssoen, by Lucye “his second wife, who was the
daughter of Louris Janssoens Coster, who brought the first print into
the world Anno 1446.” Authority for this statement there is absolutely
none; and no proof whatever exists that Lucye the daughter of Louris
Janssoens, ever existed otherwise than by her creation in the fertile
fancy of the pedigree maker. But proof there is in abundance, that
one Lourens Janszoon Coster kept a tallow-chandler’s shop in Haarlem
between the years 1440 and 1450; that about the latter year he
transferred that business to his sister, Ghertruit Jan Costersdochter,
who died in 1454; he himself starting as an innkeeper in 1451, in
which occupation he continued until 1483, when he left Haarlem with
all his goods, and is heard of no more. This Lourens Coster was a
member of a festive body, called the “Holy Christmas Corporation.” It
consisted of 54 brethren and sisters, each one of whom possessed a
chair specially set apart for him or her at their regular meetings.
These chairs passed by inheritance or purchase from one to another; the
corporation apparently having had its origin in a family gathering.
Its transactions were minutely recorded, and particular care was taken
to note the transmission of the chairs from one holder to another.
Lourens Coster’s chair passed in 1484, (the record does not state
how), into the possession of Frans Thomas Thomaszoon, and in 1497
Gerrit Thomaszoon Pieterszoon inherited it from his father. This is the
individual who kept the inn on the market place, and was made sheriff
in 1545. Now Jan Van Zuyren and Coornhert were partners in business,
and “sworn book-printers” to the town in 1561, in which year Van Zuyren
also became Burgomaster. They could not but have been intimate with
the sheriff and innkeeper Gerrit Thomaszoon, who lived to the year
1563 or 1564. He would also be well known to Junius, living as he did
in Haarlem from 1560 to 1572. In one of the rooms of his inn Gerrit
Thomaszoon hung up the pedigree he had had made, and in which was set
forth his descent from “Lucye, second wife of Thomas Pieterszoon,
daughter of Louris Janssoens Coster, who brought the first print into
the world Anno 1446.” Here then, as in a nutshell, lie the whole of the
circumstances which Junius, in 1568, worked up in his _Batavia_ into
an account of the Origin of Printing in Haarlem, by Laurens Janszoon
Coster; but with the date of the pedigree altered from 1446 to 1440.
The cogent reasons for this alteration are fully shewn by Dr. Van Der

The statements of Van Zuyren and Coornhert; the story of the family
mansion, and the wine-pot relics; the cursings of the old book-binder
Cornelis; the confirmations of the tale to Junius by Nicholas Galius
and Quiryn Dirksz Talesius, are all now easily understood,--they
were tavern gossip, suggested by the pedigree, which passing through
the alembic of Junius’s brain, issued thence in the shape of a
circumstantial history, which national vanity has been induced to
accept as a record of indubitable facts.

From first to last, the Coster-legend forms a very singular chapter
in the history of national credulity. Scriverius, writing in 1628,
and not knowing the source of Junius’s information, makes one Lourens
Janszoon, sheriff of Haarlem, who died in 1439, the Laurens Janszoon
Coster,--(these names being as common in Haarlem as those of Brown,
Jones and Smith in London,)--to whom was attributed the origin of
printing; and to whose memory a stone statue was erected in 1722. In
1823 and 1824 bronze and silver jubilee medals were struck in honor
of the same supposed first typographer, and two memorial stones put
up; and in 1851, a third tablet was placed in front of the rebuilt
Coster-house. But meanwhile, the pedigree is discovered, and Koning
and others strive hard to identify the Lourens Janssoens Coster it
mentions, with the Lourens Janszoon of Scriverius. Junius’s account
is unscrupulously amended and altered and corrected, in order to
make room for the views of subsequent writers; and another statue in
bronze is resolved upon, which is erected in 1856; but this one, in
the secret knowledge of the Committee engaged in its erection,[147]
is to the memory of the tallow-chandler and innkeeper, and not to that
of the alleged sheriff. Finally, the pedigree is published, all other
documents connected with the persons named in it, and in the history by
Junius, are critically examined; and in 1870 the fallacy of the whole
affair is thoroughly exposed.

The conclusion to which Dr. Van Der Linde arrives in his chapter on
“The Spread of Typography in the Netherlands,” is as follows:--

  “The harvest of history on the field of typography concerning
  Haarlem may be scanty; it does not yield _anything_, as far
  as xylography goes. There existed there already very early a
  Lucasguild, like that at Antwerp, and like the Johannesgild
  at Bruges; but, however rich in painters, sculptors, and
  goldsmiths, the Haarlem Corporation may have been, it produces,
  notwithstanding the most patient researches, not a single
  _prenter_ (_briefprenter_) or xylographer. The manufacture,
  therefore, of a whole series of blockbooks of the 15th century,
  ascribed, two, three, and four centuries afterwards, without any
  shadow of evidence, to a Haarlem innkeeper, has to be referred to
  the empire of fiction.”

Mr. Hessels (a native of Haarlem, as is also Dr. Van Der Linde) says,
in his very able Introduction: (p. vii.)

  “Whatever may be said about the discrepancies and absurdities of
  the Coster-legend, now that we possess a full knowledge of it,
  there is one circumstance which has given, and will give, an
  air of probability to the story, even now that it is deprived of
  its hero, so long as this circumstance cannot be sufficiently
  accounted for. I mean the existence of a comparatively large
  number of works--blockbooks and incunabula--which are of an
  incontestably early, and Dutch origin, and which cannot, even at
  present, be ascribed to any known printer, but of which it is
  certain that they belong to the printer who produced the four
  editions of the _Speculum Humanæ Salvationis_, the book referred
  to by Junius.”

He then gives, on pages xi. to xvi., a classified list of the
Costeriana as far as known, amounting in all to 43 separate works and
editions, distinguishing seven different types used in their production.

  “The earliest date (he says) we can assign for the present to
  the Costeriana is 1471-74. Mr. Holtrop tells us on p. 31 of
  his Monuments, that the Hague copy of the Saliceto (No. 25 of
  his list) contains two MS. annotations: 1st, ‘Hunc librum emit
  dominus Conrardus abbas hujus loci XXXIII., qui obiit anno
  MCCCCLXXIIII, in profesto exaltationis sanctae crucis, postquam
  profuisset annis fere tribus.’ Another inscription indicates that
  this copy had belonged to the convent of St. James, at Lille.
  Now, the abbat Conrad, who bought this book for his convent, was
  Conrad du Moulin, who was abbat only from 1471 to 1474.

  “This is the only date we can use at present. It is, as Mr.
  Bradshaw observes in his ‘List,’ mentioned above, ‘a singular
  circumstance that this one fact should compel us to place the
  printer of the Speculum at the head of the Dutch printers,
  though it only just allows him to take precedence of Ketelaer
  and De Leempt,’ from whom we have the date 1473, found in Peter
  Comestor, Scholastica hystoria.”--pp. xvii.-xviii.

The above considerations go far towards supporting the suggestions I
have thrown out (see pages 323-348) in regard to the dates when, and
the parties by whom, the _Speculum_, _Donatuses_, &c., were printed.
And these suggestions are further confirmed by the extracts cited
by Dr. Van Der Linde from the archives of Utrecht, in a note on p.
85 of Hessels’ Translation, where it is stated that in the year
1466, the name of Peter Dircxsz, described as a “beeldedrucker”--a
_prenter_,--appears. “Perhaps,” adds Dr. Van Der Linde, “the printer of
the plates of the Speculum.”


[147] The name of Lourens Janszoon, the sheriff of Haarlem who died
in 1439, is mentioned seventy-six times in the archives of the city,
but _never_ with the name of _Coster_. The name of the tallow-chandler
Lourens Janszoon Coster, appears much later, (as late as 1483); _but
his name was never brought before the public_, in connection with the
origin of printing, until the year 1867.--See _Haarlem Legend_, pp.
124, 125.


However much my views may be found to coincide with those of Dr. Van
Der Linde, Mr. Hessels, and Mr. Bradshaw, upon the Origin of Printing,
and the date of the production of the so-called _Costeriana_, there may
be wide differences of opinion on the question, whether the types made
use of in the production of those works were made of wood or of metal.
Dr. Van Der Linde writes upon this point in very dogmatic strains. In
his eleventh chapter,--“A Beech in ‘Den Hout,’”--the object of which
is to shew the impossibility of Junius’s statement about Coster having
printed with wooden types, he quotes the following from Enschedé,
written about the year 1770.

  “‘I have exercised printing for about fifty years, and wood
  engraving for about forty-five years, and I have cut letters and
  figures for my father’s and my own printing office in wood of
  palm, pear, and medlar trees; I have now been a type-founder for
  upwards of thirty years; but to do such things as those learned
  gentlemen (Junius and Meerman) pretend that Laurens Coster and
  his heirs have done, neither I nor Papillon, (the most clever
  wood engraver of France) are able to understand, nor the artists
  Albrecht Durer, De Bray, and Iz. Van Der Vinne either; but such
  learned men, who dream about wooden, moveable letters, make
  Laurens Janszoon Coster use witchcraft, for the hands of men
  are not able to do it. To print a book with capitals of the
  size of a thumb, as on placards “HOUSE AND GROUND,” which are
  cut in wood, and which I have cut myself by hundreds, would be
  ridiculous; to do it with wooden letters of the size of a pin’s
  head is impossible. I have made experiments with a few of a
  somewhat larger size. I made a wooden slip of Text Corpus, and
  figured the letters on the wood or slip; thereupon I cut the
  letters; I had left a space of about the size of a saw between
  each letter on purpose, and I had no want of fine and good tools;
  the only question now was to saw the letters mathematically
  square off the slip. I used a very fine little saw, made of a
  very thin spring of English steel, so cleverly made, that I
  doubt whether our Laurens Janszoon had a saw half as good; I did
  all I could to saw the letters straight and parallel, but it
  was impossible: there was not a single letter which could stand
  the test of being mathematically square. What now to do? it was
  impossible to polish or file them; I tried it, but it could
  not be done by our type-founder’s whetstones, as it would have
  injured the letters. In short, I saw no chance, and I feel sure
  that no engraver is able to cut separate letters in wood, in such
  a manner that they retain their quadrature (for that is the main
  thing of the line in type-casting.) If, however, I wished to
  give my trouble and time to it, I should be able to execute the
  three words ‘Spiegel onzer Behoudenis,’ better than the Rotterdam
  artist has done in the Latin work of M. Meerman; but it is
  impossible, ridiculous, and merely chimerical, to print books in
  this manner.’”

The above quotation, in the opinion of Dr. Van Der Linde, settles
the matter once for all; and certainly such a statement, from such a
man, is enough to deter any one from attempting a similar experiment.
Dr. Van Der Linde clinches Enschedé’s statement, with the following

  “We cannot wish for a more decisive and competent criticism
  of the story of Junius than this, given by a Haarlemer and a
  Costerian; for Junius represents Coster as having printed the
  Speculum in Dutch with wooden types; he makes him, in other
  words, do something impossible, ridiculous, and chimerical. It is
  true that the wooden types have been patronized until our times;
  that Camus has given a specimen of printing with wooden types of
  two lines, Wetter of one column, Schinkel of half a page; that we
  are able to do much more with the means of the nineteenth than
  with those of the fifteenth century; but none of those specimens
  have proved what they should have proved; the practicability
  of printing a book with moveable wooden letters, _i. e._ to
  distribute the forms, to clean the ink from the letters, to
  submit them to frequent strong pressing, and to retain the
  usefulness of the letters employed, and without the aid of modern
  apparatus. They have only proved what men are willing to do for a
  favorite opinion, for a prejudice which they _insist_, for once
  and all, ought to be _true_.”... “It is high time for criticism
  to make a fire of these imaginary wooden letters.”

Determined that the advocates of wooden letters shall be beaten
completely out of the field, the Dr. adds, in a note upon Schinkel in
the above quotation.

  “In a brochure entitled ‘Tweetal Bijdragen,’ Schinkel gives
  some ‘experiments’ of his foreman H. le Blansch, namely, seven
  lines, printed with types of palm wood. The xylotypographic text
  runs:--‘That the first Dutch _Spiegel onzer Behoudenis_ was
  printed with cast types, is not to be doubted. Is it possible to
  print a book of some extension with _moveable_ letters cut of
  wood? YES.--Le Blansch, _sculp._’ This YES is an unproved dictum,
  the contrary of which is evident already from the dancing lines
  of the experiment. Let a _book_ be produced printed with moveable
  wooden letters, instead of all those experiments which signify
  nothing.... But apart from all this Costerian talk, the question
  may not be put as Schinkel did, but simply: Were ever books
  printed with moveable wooden letters? No.”--pp. 72-73.

It may however be retorted upon the Dr. that his No! is also an
improved dictum. But he says again, pages 78 and 79:--

  “Those fatal unhistorical wooden types! Wetter spent nearly the
  amount of ten shillings on having a number of letters made of
  the wood of a pear tree, only to please Trithemius, Bergellanus,
  and Faust of Aschaffenburg, the first two, falsifiers of history
  in good, the last in bad, faith. His letters, although tied with
  string, did not remain in the line, but made naughty caprioles.
  The supposition--that by these few dancing lines the possibility
  is demonstrated of printing with 40,000 wooden letters, necessary
  to the printing of a quaternion, a whole folio book--is
  dreadfully silly. The demonstrating fac-simile demonstrates
  already the contrary. Wetter’s letters not only declined to
  have themselves regularly printed, but they also retained their
  pear-tree-wood-like impatience afterwards. He says, ‘I have
  deposited the wooden types with their forms in the town-library,
  where they may be seen at any time.’ Nothing is more liberal.” “I
  not only deny” [with M. Bernard] adds the Dr., “that they [books
  printed with moveable wooden characters] exist at present--I deny
  that they ever have existed.”

Nothing can be more emphatic. But, in the first place, “40,000 wooden
letters” are not “necessary to the printing of a quaternion, a whole
folio book,”--and if they were, the supposition is not “dreadfully
silly,” for it was quite within the power of letter-snyders to cut
that number if required. But they were not required. I have already
shewn (p. 299), that to print two pages of the _Speculum_ the number
of letters necessary was under 3,000. It has also been shewn, that
the early printers never printed more than one or two pages of their
books at a time; while the impressions taken of such productions as
the _Speculum_ would in their different editions vary from but 20
to 60 copies each;--3,000 letters therefore were ample for bringing
out a whole folio book or quaternion, and the pressure the types were
subjected to in the course of a dozen or twenty editions would not
more than equal the strain brought to bear upon a single edition of
a thousand copies in modern times. It is however “dreadfully silly”
to insist, that wooden types, if capable of being used at all in an
experiment which proves their capability of printing a portion of a
book, ought also to be proved capable of being used for printing a
whole book with. In other words, that a whole book should be printed
with such types, in order to prove, that as a whole book has been,
therefore, a whole book may have been, printed with them. It requires,
moreover, no great profundity of wisdom to profess a disbelief in
the making and use of wooden types by the inventors of Typography,
and to deny the assertions of older and contemporary writers, that
they were so made and used. A whole book could just as easily be
printed with wooden types, when they were once prepared and ready
for use, as half a book, or half a page, or a single word. The real
question at issue is not, Can a single book, or has a single book,
ever been printed with wooden types?--a question answered with an
emphatic, although an unproved No! by Dr. Van Der Linde and other
anti-xylo-typographers;--but, Did the earliest Typographers, in their
first experiments, make use of wooden types or not? Trithemius
says, on information derived from Schœffer senior, that they did.
His statement is borne out by that of Zell, who says Gutenberg got
the _beginning_ of this art from the Donatuses, _i. e._ block-books,
printed in Holland. Bergellanus, an independent inquirer a generation
later, and for fifteen years a corrector of the press at Mentz,
confirms the statement of Trithemius; while Faust of Aschaffenburg
declares that the family papers in his possession bore evidence to the
same effect. What the first German printers did, it was most natural
that the first Dutch printer would also do; and, as I have already
pointed out (p. 346,) there are reasons for believing that wherever
the _Speculum_[148] was printed, (and later information seems to
indicate that Utrecht may have been the place), the types used were the
work of a letter-snyder, and the material of which they were made was
wood. It is quite a different question, Could a continued series of
works, be produced by the use of wooden types, in a manner equal, or
nearly equal, to that by which works are produced with metal types? To
such a question, the advocates of the use, first, of wooden types by
the earliest Typographers, reply, No; wooden types would only answer
for a while; and because of their fragile nature, metal types, cut or
cast, became sooner or later a necessity.[149] It is, besides, if not
“dreadfully silly,” at least unwise, to argue against the possibility
of the original use of wooden types, because the specimens given by
Schinkel and Wetter are crooked and irregular, and do not _line_,
although tied or strung together with string. Schinkel and Wetter
both maintained that the _Speculum_ was printed with metal types; so
did Enschedé. For either of the three, therefore, to have thoroughly
succeeded with his experiment, would have been fatal to his argument
and preconceived opinion. Doubtless, it was scarcely possible for
Enschedé to succeed in making wooden letters of “a size somewhat larger
than a pin’s head.” His mode of stating that part of his experiment
is not at all so straightforward or clear as it might and should have
been. But he says further, “I made a slip of Text Corpus, and figured
the letters on the wood or slip,” &c. Now, what is the size of the
Text Corpus? I am rather at a loss to understand this expression, as I
find that the Dutch type called _Text_, is that which corresponds to
the English Great Primer, which contains 51½ lines to a foot, while
the _Garmond_, corresponding to the German _Corpus_, is equal to
the English Long Primer, which has 89 lines to a foot. Neither does
Enschedé say what particular wood he used in his experiment. But at any
rate he avows, that, using the best and finest tools he could procure,
he failed.

On the opposite side of the question, I have but to place my own
experience; and I may say at the outset, that I have not practised
wood engraving for nearly twenty years, that at best I was but an
amateur, and that the only tools I had, when I ventured upon the
experiment a few months ago, were a common graver, an ordinary tenon
saw, a penknife, and a rasp and file. With these implements then, I
made, precisely in the way I have described the method I supposed the
earliest printers would follow, the letters inserted in page 310. They
are of box wood, Pica-size (71½ lines to a foot) and are squared and
line well, and are perforated and nicked, and are two sizes smaller
than the letters used for the _Speculum_, which are only 54 lines
to the foot. The letter =t= I here insert again. More than 1,500
impressions have been taken from it; and it scarcely yet seems anything
the worse for wear. Calculating by the time the cutting of the three
letters occupied, I could, without difficulty, finish in nine months
3,000 letters equally good, as mathematically square, as true to line,
as capable of being used again and again, and therefore as capable of
printing a book, a whole folio, with. An expert Chinese ‘chop’ cutter
(the modern letter-snyder) would with his simple tools, complete the
same number in less than a third of that time: and I know of no reason
why similar types of the _Corpus_ or Long Primer size could not be
cut on wood. Certainly there is nothing “impossible, ridiculous or
chimerical” in the idea. Where then is the “silliness”--the “dreadful
silliness”--of supposing that a whole book could be printed with such
wooden types, even supposing, further, that 40,000 would be required in
all? The “dreadful silliness” lies in the cry of those who argue on the
opposite side--“Let a _book_ be produced, printed with moveable wooden
letters, instead of all those experiments which signify nothing.” The
answer to that cry is, _Cui bono?_--Why should a book be printed, when
3 letters are as good as 3,000, or 30,000, or 300,000, to demonstrate
the fact, that words are and can be, and that therefore pages and whole
books may be, (and therefore also that they may have been,) printed
from such separable wooden types? As well might the demand be made that
a whole suburb of London should be lighted up with obsolete oil-lamps,
in order to demonstrate to the rising generation the fact, that in that
manner the streets of the city were lighted up in the days of their
forefathers, before the introduction of coal gas. In the one case, as
in the other, a single specimen, one demonstrative example, ought to be
sufficient to carry, to every candid and reasonable mind, a conviction
of the truth of the asserted fact. But perhaps it “signifies nothing”
to a certain class, who are determined not to believe, how great or
how small the demonstrative experiments may be. Of such, the voice of
supreme wisdom has long ago declared,--“neither will they be persuaded,
though one rose from the dead.”


[148] Dr. Van Der Linde infers that the Latin edition of the Speculum,
wholly printed with separable types, was the first, and the one with
the twenty pages of solid blocks, the second. From the fact, that the
curious manuscript of the “_Spiegel der behoudenis_,” (written on
290 8vo. leaves of vellum), which is preserved at Haarlem, has the
following inscription at the end, “Dit boec is gheeyndet int jaer ons
here_n_ MCCCC en_de_ III en_de_ tsestich opte_n_ XVI dach in jul. Een
ave Maria on God voer die scrijver;” and that another inscription in
it states, that it belonged to “Cayman Janszoen of Zierickzee, living
with the Carthusians near Utrecht;” the Dr. comes to the following
conclusion: “Therefore, the Speculum was written, and finished in
the Dutch language at Utrecht in 1464, in the days _before_ the
introduction of the art of printing.”... “Utrecht had an episcopal see,
a gymnasium, a Burgundian prince,--indeed, if hypotheses are allowed,
then is that of an _Utrecht_ origin of the Specula provisionally, the
only reasonable one.”--pp. 34, 38.

[149] Seven different kinds of types of the _Speculum_ school have been
identified, and these are used in 43 different specimens, many of which
are second and subsequent editions. It is not however, material to the
validity of the argument, that the whole of these seven different kinds
of types should be proved to have been made of wood; it is enough, in
the absence of the actual types themselves, that there is reasonable
evidence, from their appearance in print, as well as from the
probabilities of the case, that some of them were so made. To argue,
that because Trithemius, Bergellanus, J. F. Faust, or others, may have
misrepresented, unintentionally or otherwise, some of the leading
facts in connection with the origin, or the inventors, of typography,
therefore, on this one point of the original use of wooden letters,
in which they all agree, they are not to be believed, is unworthy of
one who assumes the functions of, and desires to be looked up to as, a
sound historical critic.


  Page 104 last line, for _Vindicæ_ read _Vindiciæ_
   ”   153     ”       ”   Opolio     ”   Opilio
   ”   175 line 10,    ”   have to    ”   have had to
   ”   181  ”    8,    ”   Historv    ”   History
   ”   239  ”    8,    ”   say,       ”   says
   ”   331  ”   17,    ”   follows    ”   follow

_Dedicated, by Special Permission, to_ HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE DUKE OF

_Foolscap 4to. 412 pages._


and SRI´-PA´DA; with a Descriptive Account of the PILGRIMS’
ROUTE from Colombo to the Sacred Foot-print; to which are added,
copious Notes, Appendices, and an Index. Illustrated by a Map of
the Mountain District, and 10 wood-engravings.


EDWARD STANFORD, 6 & 7, Charing Cross, London, S. W. 1871.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Opinions of the Press._

       *       *       *       *       *

“Adam’s Peak may be considered the most interesting mountain in the
world; not only from its height, position, and appearance, but as
being sacred to the members of three out of the four great religions
of the world. The origin of this singular agreement to regard the same
place as holy by these three religions is to some extent obscure; but
Mr. Skeen has collected a mass of evidence upon the subject, and has
conveyed the result in a form interesting alike to the student and the
general reader. The lovely scenery surrounding Adam’s Peak, its general
features, and its perilous ascent--so steep that near the summit chains
are fastened into the rock by which pilgrims pull themselves up--are
graphically described by Mr. Skeen, who accomplished the ascent three
times. The book is of great interest, and we can warmly recommend it to
our readers.”--_Standard._

       *       *       *       *       *

“There is, perhaps, no mountain in the world of which so wide-spread
a knowledge exists, and yet of which so little is generally and
definitely known, as Adam’s Peak, in the Island of Ceylon. A
description of this mountain, held sacred by far the largest portion
of mankind, cannot fail to be of interest to the scholar; while the
pleasing and anecdotal manner in which it is handled by Mr. Skeen,
will attract the attention of even the most superficial reader. All
classes will read the book with interest. It is brimfull of rich
stores of original translations from rare MSS of Indian and Sin̥halese
literature, while the strange legends recorded are singularly romantic,
and full of weird Eastern imagery. The author enters into a full and
searching inquiry into the origin of the sanctity of the mount, and
shows much discrimination and mastery of Oriental literature, in the
progress of his inquiry. Much valuable information is imparted to the
reader, not dry and dull as might be imagined, but invested with an
interest which catches and retains the attention. The legends attached
to this mount of expiation are singularly beautiful, and are related
very felicitously by the author. Much interesting information is given
about the inhabitants of Ceylon, and of the various religious beliefs
which are held by them, from the serpent worship of the aborigines,
to the present time, when Christian churches are scattered throughout
the island. The civil and political history of the Sin̥halese is also
accurately and interestingly traced. The narrative of the pilgrims’
route from Colombo to the shrine-crowned mount is very graphically
described. The work is excellently illustrated with maps, plans, and
views. In every particular it deserves commendation, and the author
much praise for the successful manner in which he has handled his
materials, and presented the public with a book at once interesting and
instructive; profound in the researches contained in it, and giving
much valuable information on a subject on which so little has hitherto
been known.”--_Irish Times._

       *       *       *       *       *

“We believe this is the first time that a complete work has been
devoted to this subject. The narrative portion of the work is
supplemented by copious notes and appendices referring to the early
history of the religions the members of which regard the Peak as
a hallowed spot. These are of immense value to the historian and
antiquarian, and prove that the author is no idle member of the Royal
Asiatic Society.”--_London and China Express._

       *       *       *       *       *

“Mr. SKEEN, in his monogram entitled “ADAM’S PEAK,” has shewn that
the subject was by no means exhausted by his predecessors, and has
given us an interesting volume of Eastern lore and travel. Commencing
with history, he fortifies his narrative by extracts from the antient
Mahawanso, and various other native and foreign writers down to the
present day. Having amply treated of its history, he proceeds to
describe his own three visits to it, giving very full particulars of
his route, and of places of interest in the vicinity. The volume does
credit to both author and printer.”--_Trübner’s American and Oriental
Literary Record._

       *       *       *       *       *

“A very valuable monograph on Adam’s Peak, embodying a vast amount
of interesting information. Mr. Skeen has, in connection with this
work, cleared up a mystery which had baffled all previous writers on
Ceylon.”--_Ceylon Observer._

       *       *       *       *       *

“It has long been a wonder, and the wonder is a growing one, that so
small an Island as Ceylon should attract so many writers. All the
Books on Ceylon, about Ceylon, and touching Ceylon, if collected into
one group, we are certain, would make a goodly library of itself, but
the subject appears to be inexhaustible. The most recent contribution
to this accretion of works on Ceylon, or rather touching Ceylon, is
Mr. Skeen’s Book on Adam’s Peak, which, without laying ourselves
open to the charge of indiscriminate or extravagant praise, we feel
justified in pronouncing worthy the subject, and worthy the writer.
Mr. Skeen has at last got into his natural groove, the exploration and
elucidation of the romantic traditions, legends, and folk-lore which
cluster round the sacred places of Ceylon. Adam’s Peak is pre-eminently
a land-mark in the history of the Island, and while it serves to
bridge twenty centuries of the past with the present, it has never
lost its own peculiar distinctive character, which as the central
object of a nation’s faith it has for so long occupied. As it is the
most conspicuous and remarkable object in the physical geography of
the Island, so has it stood the everlasting monument of a tradition,
pointing to the mission of that great philosopher who, more than twenty
centuries ago, succeeded in revolutionizing the faith of a whole
continent. It is somewhat remarkable that a religion which aspires
after annihilation and extinction of all corporeal existence, should
yet recognize the imperishable, rock-crowned mountain, as one of the
symbols of its faith. Mr. Skeen does not enter into the metaphysics of
this question. His business has been to trace out the old traditions
and legends, and while refraining from expressing an opinion himself,
he has supplied the reader with abundant material from which to draw
his own conclusions. He carries us throughout the whole range of
ancient Eastern lore; and from the great Hindu epic, the Ramayana,
down to the most recent works on the Island, he has ransacked the dark
recesses of oriental literature, to illustrate his subject. Mr. Skeen
has entered on his task in a spirit of research, and influenced by the
strong poetic vein for which he has hitherto been so well known, he
has embellished his subject--a subject which in the hands of a mere
antiquarian threatened to become dull and prosy--with the life and
spirit of romance.

Mr. Skeen, as we have already observed, has ransacked all the
authorities, ancient and modern, that could throw light on his subject,
and it is no small praise to state, that he has added to a great
power of research an admirable talent for condensation, while his own
narrative of personal investigation and exploration, written in flowing
easy language, often rising to the height of poetry, presents the
gorgeous scenes which he describes in an animated tableau that brings
within one focus, the cloud-capped mountains, the roaring torrents
and the arid plains, through which lies the course of the pilgrims.
It is hardly possible to imagine, looking at the heads of chapters
in the table of contents, how Mr. Skeen could manage to reduce the
heterogeneous mass of subjects indicated into one harmonious whole, but
the reader has only to take up the narrative, and he scarcely perceives
the transition from one to another.

We have great pleasure in recommending the Book to the Public. It is
even worthy to stand by the best that has been written of Ceylon, and
its value as a very readable book is enhanced by the use to which it
may be put as a work of reference, not only with regard to the Peak
itself, but also, to the History of the Island generally. The book
is illustrated with a map of the Peak range, and ten well-executed
woodcuts illustrative of the Peak and its accessories; and, with a
copious and well-arranged Index, it is admirably calculated to serve
as a guide to those whom Mr. Skeen’s Book may inspire with the desire
of exploring the mountain region which has continued to attract to its
sacred pinnacle the Traveller, the Historian, and the Pilgrim, from the
days when Sindbad the Sailor “made a pilgrimage to the place where ADAM
was confined after his banishment from Paradise.”--_Colombo Examiner._

       *       *       *       *       *

“THE author of ‘ADAM’S PEAK,’ has accomplished a most difficult task
uncommonly well.”

“The book opens with introductory remarks on the origin of Buddhist,
Hindu, and other pilgrimages to Adam’s Peak. With Chapter III. the
author commences an account of a pilgrimage to the holy mountain made
by himself and three companions, and which forms a kind of cabinet made
to contain the curiosities, with an inspection of which the author
indulges us. In a pleasant chatty style the literary pilgrim-author
describes the road to Avissáweḷa, dwelling upon all objects worthy of
remark by the way, and noting all historical facts and curious legends
connected with the towns and villages through which he passed. Leaving
Avissáweḷa, the pilgrimage is continued towards what was for long
considered the loftiest mountain in Ceylon, Adam’s Peak; entertaining
details being given of “Síta’s bath,” the Mániyan̥gama vihára or rock
temple, and the Saman Déwálé, where the author mentions finding a most
curious mural stone. After giving us a description of the curious old
town of Ratnapura, the pilgrims again start onwards. After passing
Palábaddala, where the travellers obtain a view of the Peak, which is
greeted by cries of “Sadhu!” by all true pilgrims, the most enjoyable
portion of the journey appears to begin. We can only pause long
enough to draw the reader’s attention to the interesting passages
about elephants contained in chapter VI., and their supposed habit of
retiring to one spot when about to die, and the curious legend of the
Bẹ́na Samanala, or “False Peak,” in the same chapter. Space will not
allow us to do more than glance at the Kuruwiṭa Falls, and the halt at
Hẹramiṭipána, where the congregation of pilgrims is graphically

There are many men who have determination and curiosity sufficient
to induce them to set out on three different pilgrimages, which in
spite of the pleasant places through which the way lies, plainly
entailed much fatigue and inconvenience, but there are few gifted with
the great powers of observation which the writer of “Adam’s Peak”
evidently possesses, or the ability to express their impressions which
he evinces. Whether toiling over a mountain, rambling amidst the
ruins of an old Buddhist temple, or excavating those curiosities of
fact and tradition of which but for this literary pilgrim we should
have remained in ignorance, the author has in almost every page got
something new to tell us about, which he relates in a remarkably happy

Having attentively perused “Adam’s Peak,” it remains for us to pass
upon it our carefully formed opinion. In a former notice we said
that the author had “accomplished a most difficult task uncommonly
well,” and we reiterate our statement. To have compressed so much
useful knowledge into so small a compass can only be the result of
deep research and hard and persevering study. Mr. Skeen has collected
a number of local traditions, legends, and facts, which he has
elaborately arranged, and by a pleasant account of incidents connected
with his three pilgrimages to the holy mountain, unites the whole in
a pleasing and sightly form. The book abounds in quotations which are
generally apt and appropriate. The foot notes and copious appendix form
by no means the least valuable part of the work.”--_Ceylon Times._

       *       *       *       *       *

“In a careful perusal of the above production [ADAM’S PEAK] we have
been most favorably impressed with its general character and ability;
the labour that produced it must have been most painstaking, and
involving great research. Nearly a hundred authors are quoted or
referred to for confirmation or illustration of the text, which,
with well executed engravings, a large and interesting Appendix, and
an excellent Index for facility of reference, becomes a most useful
addition to Eastern literature. Besides the direct textual matter of
the book concerning the Peak, its history, and the pilgrimages made to
it, we have a large amount of very interesting particulars respecting
the Geology, Botany, and History of the Island, and the religions,
manners and customs of the people, with much legendary and traditional
lore, which, if not always reliable, is not without either interest or
importance, in the assistance it affords to a fuller knowledge of the
country and its inhabitants. Indeed the book is almost of encyclopedic
utility concerning Ceylon.

For a knowledge of the route, viâ Ratnapura, and of its many interests
and attractions of scenery, &c., and also for the many delights of the
Peak itself, as given by our author, we recommend a careful perusal of
his most interesting and able work.”--_Colombo Friend._

RANGE, with other Poems. By WILLIAM SKEEN. 1870.

_Foolscap 4to. 182 pp._ EDWARD STANFORD, Charing Cross, London.

       *       *       *       *       *

“Adam’s Peak,” and “Mountain Life and Coffee Cultivation in
Ceylon,”--two companion volumes devoted to one of our most interesting
though least known Eastern possessions ... abound in local colour and
afford life-like glimpses into the industry of the society of an island
which the Anglo-Cingalese not unpardonably regard as the centre of the
earth.”--_Daily Telegraph._

       *       *       *       *       *

“The poem contains interesting historical records which evince
considerable research and extensive reading; also a very full account
of the processes of planting the Coffee tree, of collecting the
berries, and preparing them for use and exportation. As a picture
of Eastern life and industry this book is not only interesting but
instructive.”--_The Messenger._

       *       *       *       *       *

“IN the main poem Mr. Skeen records the impressions derived from a
visit to the Knuckles District, and in the text alludes to, while
in the notes he affords, valuable information respecting historical
personages and events. The specimens quoted will give our readers
some idea of a poem in which, clustered round the scenery of the
Knuckles, we have described to us a large portion of the incidents
of coffee planting life, much history, ancient and modern, more or
less connected with the coffee enterprise, with striking references
to Hindu mythology. The notes, which explain the brief allusions in
the poem, embody a fund of interesting and curious information. The
work is probably the most beautifully got up that has ever issued
from the local press, and we trust the venture will be largely
encouraged.”--_Ceylon Observer._

       *       *       *       *       *

“The main poem treats of a well known Coffee District, its magnificent
scenery, its hospitable planters, and its prosperity. There is abundant
evidence in the poem that Mr. Skeen does not now come before the
public for the first time. He has at least the assurance, gained from
experience, to encourage him in his aspirations; and if he has not
quite succeeded in establishing a poetic reputation of the highest
order, he yet gives ample promise of better results in the future.
With a wonderful facility for versification, and an inexhaustible
resource for rhyme, Mr. Skeen has amplified his subject in a manner
which less practised or more timorous hands would hardly have dared.
We can recommend the book as well worthy perusal, not only for the sake
of its poetic beauties, but also on account of the valuable mass of
information it contains both in the body of the main poem, and the
copious notes at the end.”--_Colombo Examiner._

       *       *       *       *       *

“One of the most attractive volumes of flowing verse that Ceylon
has ever sent forth. The typography is perfect, the general getting
up of the book all that could be desired, and the verses are highly
descriptive.”--_Ceylon Times._

FIFTEENTH CENTURY. By WILLIAM SKEEN. 1853. Sm. 8vo. 48 pp. (_out
of print_)

“This little work, issued from the [Ceylon] Government Press, does
credit to the author and printer alike.... We can say in all truth
and honesty, that the work of Mr. Skeen would reflect credit on any
Printing Office in the world. He has certainly illustrated what has
been done for the improvement of Printing in Ceylon by _himself_,
for to him it is entirely due. He has issued a pamphlet of sound
historical matter, carefully written, admirably printed, and on
excellent paper. The matter consists of a history of the discovery of
the Art of Printing and its various improvements, down to the close of
the Fifteenth Century; and while it contains much new and interesting
matter, there is but one fault to find with it:--it is too short, and
stops at a very interesting point.... We welcome such works with the
right hand of fellowship; and in conclusion, we will only add, that
we hope Mr. Skeen will have the inclination and leisure to complete
this history of the Art of Printing, in the first part of which,
now published, he has imparted his information in so agreeable a
manner, and illustrated the present state of the Art by so perfect an
example.”--_Colombo Examiner_, [1853.]

Transcriber’s Note:

Equals signs indicate the word or character was printed in an ornate
font, for example, =Ornate font=

The tilde character in ~TYPOGRAPHY~ indicates spaced letters

Some fonts may not render the following characters as expected:

  n under ring

  dot under
    --e and d in Wẹlikaḍa
    --l in Avissáweḷa
    --é in Bẹ́na
    --t in Kuruwiṭa and Hẹramiṭipána

Items in the Errata listed on page 424 have been changed. Otherwise, no
known changes to spelling or punctuation as appeared in the original
publication have been made except as follows:

  Page 22
    papier-maché castings _changed to_
    papier-mâché castings

  Page 243
    by the name of the printing house.” _changed to_
    by the name of the printing house.’”

  Page 316
    “NO ONE KNOWS; yet it seems _changed to_
    “NO ONE KNOWS;” yet it seems

    the assistants of Guttenberg, Faust and Schœffer _changed to_
    the assistants of Gutenberg, Faust and Schœffer

  Page 383
    and eighth formes: the next quaternion _changed to_
    and eighth formes; the next quaternion

  Page 417
    ‘experiments of his foreman H. le Blansch _changed to_
    ‘experiments’ of his foreman H. le Blansch

  Page 420
    that of Zell, who says Gutenburg _changed to_
    that of Zell, who says Gutenberg

  Page 421
    were the work of a letter-synder _changed to_
    were the work of a letter-snyder

  Page i
    pleasing and anecdotal manner it which _changed to_
    pleasing and anecdotal manner in which

  Page ii
    little has hitherto been known. _changed to_
    little has hitherto been known.”

  Page iv
    only interesting but instructive.--_The Messenger._ _changed to_
    only interesting but instructive.”--_The Messenger._

  Footnote 11
    Monumens Typographiques des Pays Bays _changed to_
    Monumens Typographiques des Pays Bas

    Sieclé _changed to_

  Footnote 17
    Thomas á Kempis, according to Meiners, _changed to_
    Thomas à Kempis, according to Meiners,

  Footnote 63
    plusquam 4000 florenorem _changed to_
    plusquam 4000 florenorum

  Footnote 79
    Introduction Historique et Bibliographique. _changed to_
    Introduction Historique et Bibliographique.”

  Footnote 83
    Harlem, 1628. 4to. _changed to_
    Haarlem, 1628. 4to.

  Footnote 98
    clarum nomem Mogus _changed to_
    clarum nomen Mogus

  Footnote 107
    The attitude of the statute, nobly draped _changed to_
    The attitude of the statue, nobly draped

  Footnote 139
    Justiniani codex institutionem _changed to_
    Justiniani codex institutionum

  Footnote 140
    that William Tydnale’s version of the _changed to_
    that William Tyndale’s version of the

    by Joann. Schæffier _changed to_
    by Joann. Schæffler

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