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Book Value Categories and the Acceptance of Technological Changes in English Book Production


Simon Rosenberg

For more than 20 years now, the publishing industry has been highly influenced by innovations in digital technology. This is not the first time that technological changes affect the book trade. Both the printing press and industrialized production methods vitally changed the book industry in their time. With a macroscopic, comparative approach, this book looks at the transitional phases of the book of the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries to locate distinctive patterns in the acceptance of new technologies. Using specific book value categories, which shape the acceptance context of innovations in book production, helps us find continuities and discontinuities of these patterns. It also offers a better understanding of current developments in publishing in the digital age.

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2. The Gutenberg Age

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2. The Gutenberg Age

Abstract: Printing as an innovation of book production in Europe in the fifteenth century spread over the continent in just a few decades. This indicates a relatively fast acceptance. The case of England during that transitional period is unique. Among other things, book production in England predominantly focused on English texts, and not on Latin, Europe’s lingua franca at the time. It also offers examples of both successful and unsuccessful printing businesses. A closer look at the success and failure of English printers during this transitional phase sheds light on the complex context of acceptance of innovations in the early modern book trade. Therefore, the examples of William Caxton, Wynkyn de Worde and Richard Pynson will be juxtaposed with the early printing presses of the university towns Oxford and Cambridge as well as St Albans, a town famous in medieval times for its prestigious abbey and manuscript production.

Keywords: acceptance of the printed book, print culture, printing press, incunabula period, Gutenberg, printing revolution

With the possibility and economic need to produce hundreds of copies from a set text, the newly introduced printed book in fifteenth-century Europe adopted aspects of a commercial commodity that were unknown to this degree in manuscript production. This early impact of capitalism on the book trade meant that the economic success of the printed book depended on its relatively fast acceptance by book users.

According to the phase model introduced in the previous chapter, the acceptance of printed books during the early days of printing means that readers (and book users in general) would have to acknowledge, tolerate and, finally, approve of the innovation. Either the book users regard the printed book simply as an adequate substitute for the manuscript or they even prefer it due to functional advantages, lower cost and so on. Lacking functions may be neglected if the innovation offers features the old medium did not have. Either way, since books (printed or hand-written) are usually commodities as well, book users indicate acceptance of the new medium if they are willing to pay to possess it and access its inherent qualities and functions. Consequently, it is the main argument of this chapter that a multitude of successful printing presses indicates a complete acceptance of the new medium by its users. Success in this regard means that the income from the printing press is high enough for the printer to maintain the activity of his enterprise. This was never guaranteed for early printing presses, ←63 | 64→no matter how promising the context of acceptance was in the respective cities or towns.

This chapter discusses the developments of early printing in England, which is decisively different compared to the history of early printing on the continent. In contrast to continental presses, early English printers primarily focussed on texts in the English vernacular and were therefore almost exclusively interested in the local market. The special situation of early printed books in England makes it a useful case study for the question of acceptance of the printed book after the introduction of printing. As will be shown through the examples of William Caxton, Wynkyn de Worde, Richard Pynson as well as the early printing presses in Oxford, Cambridge and St Albans, the primary concern of printer-publishers was their choice of texts, that is, content value, to satisfy the local market and, at the same time, distinguish themselves from their national as well as international competitors. Apart from the choice of texts, printer-publishers were also aware of other possibilities to enhance the desirability of their commodities, for example with woodcut illustrations or paratextual elements. The successful printers’ decisions to make their products more desirable ensured the acceptance of the printed book on the English book market and shaped distinctive characteristics of the different values of the book.

2.1. Context: Introduction of the Printed Book

The idea to produce texts mechanically had been conceived earlier than Gutenberg’s printing press. The oldest completely printed book, the so-called Diamond Sutra, was printed (albeit with woodblocks) in China in 868. Movable type made from ceramic, wood, and later metal, was also first conceived of in China and Korea beginning in the eleventh century.152 Gutenberg’s major achievement was the combination and coordination of multiple technologies that enabled the speedy production of books: the creation of type material, the manufacture of paper, the technology of the press, the elements of composition and imposition, the printing process itself and the correct assembling of the individual printed sheets to create a coherent text.153

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Type Material

The most important element in Gutenberg’s business venture was the idea of movable type to set and print the pages. Afterwards, the type material would be redistributed to set up new pages. With a limited supply of type material, the possible pages were unlimited. Consequently, the hand-mould, usually attributed to Gutenberg himself, that enabled a speedy production of individual types can be regarded as the most prevalent element within the establishment of the printed book. This way of producing type material was made possible by the advanced improvements of metallurgy in the early fifteenth century in Southern Germany.

For each character, a punch was cut in steel, the hardest available metal. The steel punch was used to stamp the character in a copper matrix of fixed dimensions. The matrix was carefully adjusted to fit exactly into a mould, an instrument – in itself a sophisticated invention – which in turn could be adjusted to the varying sizes of the matrices. When closed, the mould was filled with hot liquid metal with a low melting point, an alloy of lead, tin and traces of other metals. A piece of type, a small bar of metal with a letter at its end, would be the result.154

With this technology, once a character had been cut, which took about one to two days, a large number of identical types could be reproduced efficiently. On average, a type-caster could produce 3,000 individual letters.155 In this way, a complete set of letters and numbers and other symbols in matching design could be produced to make a fount of type that could be sold to printers.


Before papermaking was introduced to Europe in the early twelfth century, parchment, that is specially prepared animal skin, was the primary material for books. Its production was slow and costly. But paper did not replace parchment use immediately. Despite its costly disadvantage, the longevity of parchment was deemed more suitable for texts that were used extensively and needed to endure many readings. It also tended to carry larger esteem with its beauty and preciousness.156 The older writing support then offered both practical advantages ←65 | 66→as well as more symbolic value than paper. In the long run, though, the enormous costs and limited availability, especially for the upcoming print runs in the fifteenth century, made using parchment as the main raw material impossible and it remained to be used only occasionally. With the steep rise of print output Europe-wide, the use of paper quickly spread with the advent of printing.

Paper production, in essence, stayed the same until the nineteenth century, with only minor improvements, especially in the paper makers’ equipment.157 The main component of paper was undyed linen or hempen. The material was cut into small pieces and then hammered to pulp. The resulting compound was put into a large vat with tepid water. The paper maker dipped a framed wire-sieve into the pulp and with great skill created the basic shape of one sheet of paper. A complete post of paper was then processed with a hand press several times to press the water out of it. Afterwards, the paper was strong enough to be handled and was hanged to dry. To improve the surface of the paper to write or print on, it was “dipped by handfuls into hot size, a solution of animal gelatine made from vellum or leather shavings boiled in water”158 before it was pressed and dried again to be sold in quires or reams. Depending on the size of the sheets produced and the number of workers in paper mills, a paper maker could produce roughly 3,000 to 5,000 sheets of paper a day, minus the faulty sheets that were produced due to human or material failure.159 Despite the cost advantage compared to parchment, paper was still the most expensive element in the printing business. The spread of printing presses around Europe further led to scarcity of paper. In contrast to type material or ink, paper was very delicate to handle. It could tear easily, burn immediately and, obviously, could only be printed on once.

Printing Process

A decisive difference to manuscript production were the elements of imposition and composition. The printer needed a precise estimate of the length of the book to order the right amount of paper. Apart from the number of words, further factors like type, book format and layout influenced this decision. Once all these decisions had been made and the text was cast off, printing could start with ←66 | 67→setting the sheets by formes so that first all pages of one side of the sheet could be printed, then dried, before the other side could be printed.

Compositors set up a page in a frame and fixed the type material with strings. The formes were placed on the press and coated with an oil-based ink, consisting of approximately 65 per cent lead, 23 per cent antimony and 12 per cent tin. Since tin was about ten times as expensive as lead, the proportion of tin was sometimes less, which led to inferior printing results.160 Paper (or, less frequently, parchment) would be placed on the forme before a platen would be pulled down via a lever. Each printing needed re-inking of the type material. Once the desired number of copies had been printed, the type material would be cleaned, redistributed to the cases, and then the next page would be composed. The average output of pressmen in the hand press period was roughly 200 sheets in one hour. This depended on the sizes of the forme and the type material. Extra features like two-colour printing affected the output of the press as well.161

In contrast to manuscripts, pages could not be created in running order. Printed sheets were folded, depending on the format (folio, quarto, octavo and so on) of the book. This emphasizes the importance of accurate casting off. Inaccurate imposition usually led to a change of layout to ensure the continuity of the text. Correct imposition consequently meant a reduction of press time and material costs. However, these pre-printing preparations were complex, time-consuming and expensive. After all, typesetters and proof-readers were the best paid jobs within the printing office.162 Still, the complexity and importance of the preparations for manuscript production must not be underestimated. They were laborious as well, especially for de luxe manuscripts. Preparations for a simple copy or transcript of a text with no decorations were much less laborious for a scribe than for a printer.163 However, with the ability to create ←67 | 68→hundreds of copies once the composition was completed, the potential economic profit was incentive enough for printers to engage in this initially very slow and cost-intensive production process.164 Printer-publishers needed to find a balance between their print run and selling enough copies to make a profit or at least reach the break-even point. It is difficult to estimate average print runs in the earliest days of printing. Too much relies on where, when and what was printed, and by whom. Print runs of less than 100 copies were clearly the exception, as were print runs of around 1000 copies. Based on sources primarily from Italy, Konrad Haebler carefully argues that 100 copies were the lowest print runs, 200 to 300 the norm, which increased to approximately 400 to 500 in the latter years of the incunabular period.165 Small print runs effectively meant a high price of unit costs, so for both publisher and customer alike, bigger editions were more attractive as long as the edition could be sold. Consequently, the sixteenth century saw a rise in print runs to around 1,000 to 1,500 copies.166

Gutenberg’s B42

With these basic considerations of the early printing process in mind, it is revealing to look at the production of the first larger work printed in Europe, the Gutenberg Bible (B42). Gutenberg did not intend to quickly produce a cheap alternative to manuscript bibles. Rather, the B42 is a prime example of a hybrid book mixing print technology and hand-finished elements. Whether the symbolic value of the manuscript features was necessary for the acceptance of the new commodity remains speculation. Gutenberg might have been aware of their importance. From today’s perspective, it may seem surprising that the B42 used 47 different capital letters and 243 lower-case letters, even though it would have sufficed to have two 23 letter sets (upper- and lower case). Reasons for the huge variety of lower-case letters primarily allowed printers to have a “page of text free of distracting white patches, while maintaining the desired emphasis on verticality.”167 Other features like ligatures, however, imitated manuscript ←68 | 69→characteristics that do not necessarily make sense from an economic point of view. The extra costs for an already expensive production method signify the importance, and indeed some sort of added value, of the product.168 It would be a fallacy, though, to assume that it had been a conscious decision to include manuscript features. After all, the press was supposed to produce books, and manuscripts shaped the idea of what a book was. The concept of printed books along with the features of standardization and reduced use of letter sizes obviously did not yet exist. Merely 30 years after the B42, printing presses had spread all over Europe. Whether or not this fast acceptance would have happened without the adoption of ‘unnecessary’ manuscript features remains speculation.

The first question to be raised is why Gutenberg chose the bible as his first big printing project. In the nineteenth century, Charles Knight, publisher and author of the Penny Magazine, mused that Gutenberg chose to print the bible as his first major work because it promised to be a success.169 Later evaluations of the book market in Gutenberg’s time, however, tone down the economic safety of the bible as a printed commodity. In fact, production of manuscript bibles had already reached its peak in the thirteenth century. The demand for bibles in Europe was mainly satisfied or, at least, not as high as presumed. Andrew Pettegree claims that the demand for liturgical texts, missals and lectionaries was much higher.170 Further, those texts would have been much easier and cheaper to produce. A more detailed look at the production of the B42 reveals that the production was very costly indeed.171

Assuming that Gutenberg produced 180 copies of his B42 on two printing presses, Eva-Maria Hanebutt-Benz has calculated that Gutenberg would have needed approximately 150,000 pieces of individual type, which would have ←69 | 70→needed approximately 100 days to produce. Altogether, the B42 used 290 different sorts of type and the creation of these would have taken at least 200 days. Finally, the time for the actual printing process must have been enormous considering that the B42 consists of 1275 printed pages. It is estimated that printing all copies took around two to three years.172

Arguably, the most important element of printing the B42 was the compositional stage. When examining the B42, it becomes obvious that almost nothing concerning the whole layout was by accident. Hanebutt-Benz demonstrates this by elaborating on the change from 40 lines per column to 42 lines that occurs after page 9. Reasons for the change itself are still not satisfyingly explained. Some scholars exclude economic reasons. According to them, the saved material and time reaches only approximately 5 per cent. But no matter what the reasons behind the change to 42 lines are, it is still important to note the minimally reduced line-spacing. Due to this layout change, the type area remains exactly the same, resulting in identical page borders. The reader will thus not notice the change from 40 to 42 lines. It is also worth stressing that hyphens were printed outside the type area which resulted in an even more harmonious layout of the pages.173

The production of the B42 added three further characteristics that reminded the reader of a de luxe manuscript. First, the golden ratio, referring to the spatial relationship between the text and white space surrounding the text, was applied. It had further been decided that a certain amount (30 copies) would be printed on parchment instead of paper. Though much more expensive than paper, parchment was still considered to be more durable and arguably also carried the greater prestige. Third, the copies of the B42 included an ample number of hand-finished elements: illuminations, border decorations and initials ornamented the pages to different degrees by professional illuminators. Even more telling is the fact that even though Gutenberg had experimented with printing in red to take over the task of rubricators, early experience showed that it was a laborious and tricky task to achieve excellent results. Hence, highlighting certain parts of the text was left for experienced rubricators.174

The overall quality of the B42 copies was immediately noticed by contemporaries. Probably the most prominent primary source that offers an early ←70 | 71→glimpse at the evaluation dimension of reception of the B42 is a letter by Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, the future Pope Pius II, to Cardinal Juan de Carvajal.175 Piccolomini wrote in March 1455 that he had come across copies of a bible with a very clean text that was legible without glasses and allegedly consisted of no textual errors. It is noteworthy that the letter not only comments on the textual quality itself (something which would have been almost impossible to evaluate completely at the fair anyway), but also on the enhanced features of typographic quality. The letter indicates that the impact of the printed book might have been immediate and that clerical individuals were far from being critical. Piccolomini also mentions two figures concerning the print run, which led some scholars to argue that initial demand was so high that more copies were printed than originally planned. This might indicate a surprisingly fast acceptance of the printed book. The hypothesis about the changed print run, however, remains speculation.176 Despite Piccolomini’s praise of the textual quality of the B42, however, modern textual research has argued that Gutenberg used different sources for his B42, most of them of inferior quality.177 Content value, in other words, would have seemed less important than other factors for the first big work printed in Gutenberg’s shop.

Pettegree summarized such undertakings as Gutenberg’s B42 with the credo that “large complex projects carry the greatest risk, as well as the greatest renown.”178 Indeed, Gutenberg’s B42 carried enormous financial risk that eventually led to Gutenberg’s loss of his press and printing material after the business struggle with his financial partner, Johannes Fust. However, he seemed to be aware of the importance of awing his customers in order to have a palpable impact on the book trade. His decision to produce about 30 copies on parchment, much more expensive than paper, emphasizes this hypothesis. Printing the B42 was most probably not only about the financial profit from printing and selling many copies, but also about showing the capabilities of the invention. Gutenberg’s main idea was to establish trustworthiness and prestige to the ←71 | 72→printed book or, rather, the printing technology in general. Even nowadays, more than 550 years later, the B42 is still described as one of the most beautiful books ever produced with a printing press. A high level of detail was necessary to guarantee a convincing result in the hope of further acceptance of Gutenberg’s innovation. In the case of the B42, it is revealing to see that much more effort went into the physical production of the book compared to the level of accuracy of the Latin translation of the bible. It is fair to assume that Gutenberg, as a craftsman, was not capable of evaluating the accuracy of the manuscripts he used. Maybe he even deemed the use and/or consequential acquisition of better sources as too expensive or unimportant. In other words, content value of the B42 via textual accuracy was probably only of limited importance for Gutenberg. The choice of the bible itself seemed strong enough. This significance was stressed by the high quality of materiality, the partial use of parchment and the inclusion of hand-finished elements. The decision to include these costly manuscript features helped to translate the symbolic value of the manuscript to the printed book to ensure acceptance and, ideally, preference, as well.

Incunables as Transitional Books

The transition from manuscript to the printed book was not a sudden change:

Es ist eine Binsenweisheit, daß der Buchdruck nicht schon mit der Erfindung der Werkzeuge und der Ausarbeitung der technischen Verfahren zur Wirkung gekommen ist. Es hat seine Zeit gebraucht, bis die neuen Möglichkeiten zur Verbreitung von Texten - in einem mehrfachen Sinne - ‚wahrgenommen’ wurden und ihr Potential in der Umgestaltung des literarischen, religiösen, politischen Lebens, der Wahrnehmungs-, Denk- und Schreibgewohnheiten entfalten konnten.179

Incunables “represent the bridge between manuscripts and the printed books of the sixteenth century […] and as such they partake in the problems of both.”180 In the incunabular period, a printed book bore many similarities to a manuscript. The most obvious likeness is the type, which was copied from handwriting styles. Specific characteristics of the manuscripts like diacritical marks and abbreviations (which were common in formal writing of Latin) were adopted ←72 | 73→by early type material, too.181 Resemblances like this led Lucien Febvre to label incunables as “unusual manuscripts.”182 In the 1470s, it became obvious that printing might replace handwritten books and that the number of printed pages would soon exceed the number of those written by scribes.183 As early as 1480 “it had become clear that printing would soon replace manual reproduction as an efficient and cost-effective means of multiplying texts.”184 Manuscripts did not disappear with the introduction of the printing press: “There is a continuity between the manuscript culture and the production of early printed books, and there was co-operation between those who produced the written and the printed word.”185 As Lotte Hellinga and Joseph Burney Trapp put it, the fifteenth century witnessed a huge increase in the production of books “largely as a result of the arrival in England of the new invention of printing and a flourishing import trade in both manuscripts and printed books, in which supply – as ever – partly satisfied and partly created demand.”186 This co-existence made the stage of preference for the printed book even more important. The influence on the book trade was evident. The printer especially could not confine himself to just producing the printed books:

The further perfection and spread of printing demanded (in addition to craftsmanship) intelligence and an acute business sense, involving daring as well as a shrewd assessment of the taste and the prejudices of the actual and potential book-buying public. Printers faced numerous problems of an economic nature for which parallels did not exist in the production of manuscripts and which they had to solve if they wanted to succeed.187

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Even though manuscript production was almost exclusively a bespoke trade, the late Middle Ages saw cases where manuscripts were produced for stock, which had other economic risks. These risks were multiplied by the printing press. The printer was dealing with the speculative trade and “the exclusive nature of the relationship between producer and client or patron is lost within the advent of printing.”188 Early printers relied on a rather conservative publishing policy: they chose mainly texts that had been in circulation in manuscript form and proved successful. This turned out to become a reoccurring pattern within the book trade. Since money from sales of printed books trickled in slowly, a bold publishing policy could have easily meant bankruptcy.189

In all likelihood, printed books were simply seen as an improved means of textual production and not a new medium altogether.190 The distinguishing aspect of the printed book and a manuscript is not the fact that it is printed but rather the vastly increased output due to print runs. Printed books and manuscripts coexisted for centuries with no specific hierarchical order for book users, even though manuscripts tended to be, at least initially, regarded in higher esteem. The sharp distinction between manuscripts and printed books that exists nowadays partially developed in the eighteenth century when manuscripts and printed books were stored separately in libraries. Sometimes, even handwritten parts in printed books were removed and stored elsewhere.191 According to Lotte Hellinga, this development influenced and conditioned the thoughts and research of scholars.192 Such a sharp distinction did not seem to exist during the transitional phase from manuscript to the printed book, where handwritten copies were made from printed books and where manuscripts in libraries were ←74 | 75→disposed of once a printed edition had been acquired.193 In these cases, the content of the book had higher or at least equal value as the material aspects and the underlying symbolic value embedded within the materiality.

The fast spread of printing after Gutenberg’s innovation proved him right. From 1460–1470, presses were established in Germany and Italy. By 1480, further printing shops were founded in France, Spain, Poland, the Low Countries and England: “Altogether, presses were set up in more than 100 towns between 1471 and 1480, in almost 90 further places between 1481 and 1490, and in approximately 90 more towns between 1491–1500.”194 Prospects for economic profit must have been prevalent for printers to engage in such a risky endeavour. Books were, after all, not new to Europe. Manuscript production had already established channels of trade throughout Europe and books were in demand in many places. England was no exception.

2.2. Early Printing Presses in England

2.2.1. Preconditions in England

The introduction of the first printing press in England in 1476 was not a risk-free venture. Books were no scarcity in England at that time. Not only was England blessed with a thriving manuscript culture, but the English book trade also drew its books, printed and handwritten, from the continent through established channels of trade. Manuscript books of hours, for example, were specifically produced for the English market in the Netherlands.195 Further, vital printing material like paper and type was only scarcely produced in England, if at all.196 This disadvantage might explain why

[s];cript was absolutely central to the administrative and bureaucratic culture of the period, the basic instrument of record-keeping in the late Tudor and Stuart state and Church and the chief means of issuing executive instructions. […] For at least two centuries, the procreative pen and its many different and individual offspring complemented and at times rivalled the press’s more uniform products. Far from a ←75 | 76→‘curious’ anachronism, scribal copying remained a competitive technology for transmitting texts even after 1700.197

At least for administrative functions, script was still acknowledged as an adequate technology with no immediate need to change to print.

Several factors determined the success of a printing press in that day and age. In order to understand the business of the early English printers, we “must divorce ourselves from a romantic understanding of the fifteenth century as offering a simplified literary culture free of a ‘capitalistic system’, or given to extremely close ‘subject-object’ relations and a ‘general sharing of ideas.’”198

When William Caxton established the first printing press in England, such a venture shared many functions and challenges of any other business, even though printing with movable type in Europe was only twenty to thirty years old.199 A newly invented business was bound to be confronted with problems: “Printing from movable types, like many other inventions, was the product of an uneasy consortium of inventor, capitalist, and manager […].”200

In the middle of the fifteenth century, England was slowly recovering from the Hundred Years’ War, which had resulted in the loss of most of England’s territories in France. A domestic instability followed, the so-called ‘Wars of the Roses.’ During these uncertain years, Edward IV tried to restore order and establish political reforms. The poverty of the crown and the growing discontent of merchants and the aristocracy posed a huge impediment for his efforts.201

But despite the poor economic conditions, the demand for Latin books in England was constantly increasing. To ensure access to Latin works as well as the support for the new invention in England, King Richard III, successor of Edward IV, passed an act in 1484 which, in essence, gave total freedom to alien printers, binders and scriveners to exercise their trade in England.202 Resulting from the ←76 | 77→Act of 1484 was a majority of foreign printers in the early days of printing: except for William Caxton in Westminster and possibly the printer in St Albans, all printers in England until 1513 came from abroad.203 English book production picked up almost immediately. When the Wars of the Roses witnessed its decisive conflict with Henry VII’s victory over Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, the new king supported a gradual restoration of the financial and political powers of the English monarchy. However, Richard’s Act of 1484 was still valid. It took another fifty years until Henry VIII’s Act of 1534 made it

[…] unlawful for any person or persons ‘resiant,’ i.e. resident, or inhabitant within the realm ‘to buy or sell again any printed books, brought from any parts out of the King’s obeysaunce ready bound in boards, leather or parchment, upon pain of loss and forfeit for every book 6s. 8d.’204

This Act, in other words, eliminated Richard III’s Act of 1484 and protected the English book trade from foreign competition.

In his essay “Der frühe Buchdruck und die Stadt,” Severin Corsten examines the conditions for the establishment of printing presses in cities in the earliest days of printing. Corsten’s first observation is that most (German) cities with printing presses were diocesan towns: “Für die ältesten deutschen Druckerstädte kann man die Mitwirkung des Ortsbischofs oder doch der bischöflichen Behörde wahrscheinlich machen.”205 This points towards acceptance of the new production methods by clerical institutions. Once the printing press had been established, the production of (almost) identical texts at a low price was possible. Apart from that, manuscript production was too slow and hence not efficient enough to compete with a printing press in the long run. Therefore, a bishop must be considered as a major support for the introduction of a printing press in a town. However, once the desired texts had been printed, the printer was basically on his own:

Zusammenfassend kann man sagen, daß die kirchlichen Instanzen allen Anlaß hatten, die Schwarze Kunst als nutzbringend und hilfreich einzuschätzen. Sie waren darum bereit […], den in der Regel ortsfremden Druckern bei der Einrichtung einer Offizin finanziell unter die Arme zu greifen und ihnen zu helfen, die besonders schwierige ←77 | 78→und riskante Anfangszeit zu überstehen. Allerdings muss man konstatieren, daß die Anteilnahme bald wieder erlahmte, wenn die benötigten Texte vorlagen. Nun mußte sich der Typograph nach anderen Aufträgen umsehen.206

Corsten also reflects upon universities as a precondition for a printing press in cities. He concludes that no sooner than the late sixteenth century did universities in Germany become an incentive for printers to set up a press. Even less promising, the works printed for universities were hardly interesting from a commercial perspective: “Mit dem, was sie zu drucken hatten, war auch kaum Staat zu machen. Disputationen, Dissertationen, Carmina zu festlichen Anlässen hatten ebenso wenig einen Markt wie Promotionsordnungen und ähnliche amtliche Verlautbarungen.”207 According to these arguments, the lack of a university and a bishop in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in a city should not be regarded as a decisive disadvantage for a printing business. Indeed, book production boomed in some late sixteenth-century cities without a university, while other cities with universities failed to keep presses running. John Feather, however, rightly distinguishes between the German and English situation of the influence of such local institutions:

Until the middle of the sixteenth century it seemed that the trade in England might develop as it had on the continent, where printers established themselves in many cities under the patronage of a local institution such as a monastery or university. In Germany and Italy, lacking central political structures, this was a widespread phenomenon and so, briefly, it became in England. […] but in England, the enterprise proved hopeless.208

Evidently, the different political and economic structures of the country influenced the importance of local institutions for provincial printers. Such institutions in England, namely the universities in Oxford and Cambridge as well as the Benedictine Abbey in St Albans, were the impetus for early provincial printing presses that ultimately succumbed to the economic problems described by Corsten, as will be shown in chapter 2.2.4.

Overall, Corsten sees the city itself as the most important factor for assessing the possible viability of printing businesses. After all, establishing a print shop and acquiring the raw material for book production required a lot of capital and the necessary infrastructure. In the long run, what made business for a ←78 | 79→mass-produced commodity viable were good trade connections and access to economic capital.

In England, London has always been the centre of the book trade. Within the city limits it was especially the area around St Paul’s Cathedral that drew attention to book-oriented artists like illustrators, bookbinders or rubricators.209 “As attested by a variety of property records, including rental lists for shops and tenements […], the area surrounding old St Paul’s Cathedral had already, by the 1390s, emerged as a book-craft neighbourhood […].”210 England had a commercial book trade by the fourteenth century and the area around St Paul’s Cathedral was the most suitable location for the book trade in the fifteenth century, since it offered a proximity to important organizations like educational institutions and London’s lawyers.

Apart from this location, there were further possibilities to purchase books: “Every town in England had one or more large fairs in the course of the year. […] There is ample evidence that books were sold at these fairs.”211 Apart from retail sale in their own shops and on the markets, there was also the possibility for printers to wholesale their books to retailers in the City of London and provincial towns. However, such distribution methods became uninteresting for English printers because the revenue from selling their books in their shops was higher.212 Additionally, the early importers of books were pioneers of a distribution system that used the existing channels of trade in England.

The second-hand book trade was also an important part of book culture in late medieval and early modern times. Clayton Paul Christianson points out that it would be a fallacy to apply the modern distinction between old and new books to the fifteenth century:

Books already a century or more old were still considered authoritative and directly useful, and one can argue that the notion of an out-of-date book would have been considered novel, if not extravagant. A worn book in need of repair or refurbishment remained a prized possession.213

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Christianson admits that the precise portion of used books for the overall book trade remains unclear, but he stresses that it could not have been negligible.


Apart from trade connections and money, trade cities also offered immediate access to possible customers: “The market for books is essentially determined by two factors: the number of those able to read and who wish to do so, and their ability to obtain reading matter.”214 Unfortunately, statistics of literacy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are not readily obtainable:

That books large and small were produced is beyond dispute. That there was a reading public for them, varying in size from one person to many […] is therefore equally certain. Who composed that public, what gender, occupation, profession, social class and so on, and what proportion of their lives, private and public, individual and institutional, was occupied by writing and reading is largely imponderable.215

Even though there are contemporary comments available about the reading ability of the English society, those accounts are rarely helpful, especially due to widespread estimates of those days. Whereas Thomas More, for example, believed that about half of the English population was able to read, a contemporary of his estimated that only ten per cent of the population was literate.216 Measuring literacy is problematic, especially in historical times, not least because of varying definitions that do not always distinguish between the ability to read and the ability to write, nor do they distinguish these competences in Latin, Greek or the vernacular language. Some studies on historical literacy rates in medieval times have next to no sociological data, and, rather crudely, merely extrapolate.217 This is problematic because medieval ideas about functional literacy deviated from a modern understanding. M. T. Clanchy also complains about early modern humanists and their elitist approach of disregarding societies before the printing press as illiterate.218 Generally, it can ←80 | 81→be assumed that in medieval England far more people could read than write.219 Two further developments seem certain: literacy rates were rising slowly since the late Middle Ages, and that the ability to read was no longer solely a clerical activity.220 Richard Altick stresses the relevance of bureaucracy and business for this continuing development in early modern times: “It is at least certain that the growing commercial life of the nation required men of the merchant class to read and write English in order to transact business, keep records, and interpret legal documents.”221 The opportunities for education increased in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and schooling was no longer limited to those destined for the religious life. However, educational facilities were less available in the country than in the towns, which most probably resulted in more illiteracy in those places.222

Summarized, literacy in England was rising in the time of the first printing presses. Arguably, Caxton’s press gave the demand for English books a decisive push since it issued books in the vernacular on an unprecedented scale. The introduction of printing in England may not have created a new audience, but it certainly made existing reading audiences want to read more.223

Publishing Categories

The biggest part of printed texts produced in the fifteenth century consisted of religious texts, especially books of hours, “which assumed an extraordinary ←81 | 82→centrality in popular culture.”224 To stress the popularity of the genre, Erler points out that at least 760 editions of Latin books of hours were published between 1485 and 1530: “Were we to guess conservatively that each edition comprised 300 copies, about a quarter of a million printed horae would have been published by this half-century.”225 Before the introduction of the printing press in England in 1476, all such books had to be imported. Most copies came from France or the Low Countries.226 Even after the first presses had been established in Westminster and London, there was still a huge number of imported books, especially Latin texts.227 Service books for the churches in particular were a big market in the early days of printing. The most important one was the Missal, which offered the instructions and liturgical texts for Mass throughout the year. Since hardly any English printer was capable of printing such books in an adequate quality, the clerical institutions preferred to buy those books from the continent.228 In other words, the content value needed to be reflected by the quality of the material aspects of the book. Inadequate execution of the product would diminish the overall value of the book. Lucien Febvre even points out the unpredictability of the book market, in which the church book seems to be the “only item which would be sure of sale at a time of crisis.”229

Apart from religious texts, the humanist movement, which flourished during the fifteenth century, also created demand for new texts. The advantages print technology offered were obvious. Standardizations of the text and of references were a huge benefit for scholarship. It primarily resulted in a growing demand for schoolbooks, especially grammars. However, scholarly publishing, which was written in Latin, developed much later in England since demand in the early years was mainly satisfied due to the imported books from the continent.

There was also a significant demand by English readers for French literature, either in the French original or translated into the English language. The reading group of French literature was not limited to the court and upper nobility, but also included the professional and merchant class.230

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Another profitable field was the printing of English law books,

for the uniqueness of the English common law meant that the Roman law books printed in great quantities on the Continent were of little use in England. English law depended largely on precedent and statute; it was a field in which the changeover from manuscript to print was to be both rapid and comprehensive.231

Finally, there was also a significant demand for English literature with Geoffrey Chaucer and John Lydgate being the most prolific writers. Both poets enjoyed a huge demand. The first 50 years of printing in England saw five editions of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales alone (two by William Caxton and Richard Pynson each and one by Wynkyn de Worde). This indicates the growing importance of publishing texts in the English vernacular in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.


For artists, authors and scribes alike, the organization of patronage was still very important after the invention of the printing press.232 They were dependent on the financial assistance of a patron since art was mainly a bespoke trade.233 When the printing press was introduced to England, early printers, most prominently William Caxton, initially adopted the idea of patronage. However, even though this form of patronage derived from artistic patronage, it was different. It developed from a literary patronage to a patronage of book production. Financial assistance was no longer a priority.234 In some cases, printers hoped that mentioning an important person in paratextual235 elements might be support enough since it could potentially add symbolic value through the prestige of the person ←83 | 84→and consequently enhance the desirability of the book. In addition, a patron might also encourage a printer to print certain works or to keep up the work, as was the case with William Caxton and Margaret of York, who allegedly helped Caxton continue his translation of the History of Troy from French into English.236 However, in the course of the first decades of printing in England, patronage for printers became slowly obsolete. Partially responsible for this development is the change from the bespoke manuscript trade to the speculative trade with printed books. Caxton led his business in these transitional years. Later printers had to satisfy a different, more complex market. Printing 10 or 50 copies of a text would have been a nonsensical decision since initial costs for setting up the press were too high. A patron alone would neither have bought a complete print run, nor have offered enough potential customers. Mentioning patrons in paratexts was not deemed a good enough added value for the printed book. As will be seen, the system of patronage was becoming more and more outdated.237

2.2.2. William Caxton

The first printing press in England followed a decidedly different publishing policy compared to the early successful presses on the continent. Whereas the continental presses focussed mainly on humanistic or religious texts, which were almost exclusively printed in Latin, Europe’s lingua franca in the fifteenth century, William Caxton thought of a market niche that made him the most popular figure in the history of early English publishing: vernacular texts for the English middle class and aristocracy.238 Before Caxton, the continental presses had been supplying the English book market with Latin texts. Caxton was the first to think of printed books in the English language. Indeed, many scholars stress Caxton’s limited printing quality, especially compared to continental printers, but they also address the astute approach towards his publishing policy: his choice of ←84 | 85→texts ensured the survival of his printing business.239 Since publishing policies are oftentimes affected by the publisher’s biography, it is necessary to briefly deal with Caxton’s background.240

It is assumed that Caxton was born between 1420 and 1424 in the Weald of Kent.241 Even though next to nothing is known about his parents, it is believed that they had been merchants or officials since Caxton soon became an apprentice to Robert Large, an important member of the Mercer’s Company and, in his later life, Lord Mayor.242 This apprenticeship shaped Caxton’s whole career as he became associated with influential and wealthy friends. Later, he became involved in some of the political and diplomatic events of the time.243

In the late 1440s, Caxton went to Bruges for the first time. Flanders was an attractive destination for English merchants due to its international markets, and since the Mercer’s Company dealt with cloth and silks, Bruges was a very attractive destination. It was also a centre for expensive manuscripts.244 Here, Caxton started translating Recueil des histoires de Troies (later titled History of Troy) in 1469. The text had been compiled just five years earlier by Raoul Lefèvre for the then duke of Burgundy, Phillip the Good.245 By the time Caxton started his translation, his experiences so far had made him an established businessman:

He was a merchant who had moved on the periphery of aristocratic society in the years before becoming a publisher. He was familiar with the tastes of the upper echelons of late fifteenth-century society since he had a hand in supplying them with the manuscripts they wanted. He was familiar therefore with the book-buying tastes of a secular audience, ←85 | 86→though with his religious inclinations, it would not be surprising if he were not also acquainted with current religious ideals and writings.246

The decision to translate the History of Troy shows Caxton’s sense of business. Blake argues that Caxton had no other reason to translate this work than publishing it, presumably through printing.247 If this is the case, Caxton must have had established a kind of publishing policy even though he was not in the possession of a printing press at that time.248 History of Troy celebrates the tradition that the dukes of Burgundy were descendants of mythological heroes of ancient Greece. Since the English aristocracy saw itself in that same tradition, it was a fitting text for enticing aristocratic patronage in Burgundy as well as in England. It was aristocratic reading matter and, in the eyes of Caxton, suitable for an important group of his clients. Since he started the translation less than a year after the wedding of Charles the Bold and Margaret of York, Goldfinch, Hellinga and Nickson assume that Caxton might have wanted to “flatter her and her entourage.”249

In 1471, Caxton went to Cologne, where he presumably met and worked with Johannes Veldener, a successful printer.250 Assuming that Caxton translated the History of Troy with the plan to print it, it is quite probable that he already made contact with Veldener prior to his visit to Cologne. There, Caxton was involved in the production of three Latin works, among them Bartholomaeus Anglicus’s De proprietatibus rerum, a highly esteemed encyclopaedic work of the thirteenth century that was, due to its length, very difficult to produce, even for experienced printers.251 The type used reflected the design known (and expected) in Cologne but not in England. Hellinga argues that the books Caxton helped Veldener print were not targeted at an English audience: “It is as if Caxton wished the best of English writing to this part of the world, in the language in which it was accessible ←86 | 87→there.”252 Even during his earliest encounters with printing, Caxton seemed to be aware of the importance the choice of typography might have, since it potentially influences symbolic value.

Early 1473, he returned to Bruges and set up his own printing press to print his History of Troy. For this work, Caxton used a type now known as his ‘Type 1,’ a specially created type, probably modelled on David Aubert’s handwriting, an esteemed and successful French calligrapher who was also responsible for exquisite manuscripts commissioned by Margaret of York. Hellinga assumes that Caxton demanded this type fount to make the text more fitting for Margaret of York and her entourage, because it reproduced English scribal conventions like terminal flourishes or looped ascenders.253 Again, Caxton seemed to be cognizant of the potential symbolic value of typography, albeit for a limited group.254 ‘Type 1’ is a rather complex and elaborate type fount and must have been very tricky to produce. After History of Troy, Caxton printed a few more books in or close to Bruges: his translation of the Game of Chess, the original French text of the Recueil des histoires des Troies and another French text, Méditations, were all published in 1474 and printed with ‘Type 1.’255 In 1475, Caxton used a new type, now known as ‘Type 2,’ “a remarkably elegant typeface of generous size, clearly inspired by the scribal traditions of the ample, luxury manuscripts produced for the court of Burgundy.”256 With this type, Caxton printed his first Latin text, the Sarum Hours, and the French Cordiale. It can be assumed that Caxton’s French editions were printed for local use rather than for a bigger market.257 In late 1475 or early 1476, he left Bruges (and Type 1) for good and established his printing press in Westminster.258

For a printer, this location was not the most obvious choice. As previously mentioned: the main location for the English book trade prior to the printing ←87 | 88→presses was the area around St Paul’s Cathedral.259 But Caxton’s decision to set up a press in Westminster reveals more about his idea as a printer:

Caxton’s decision to locate in Westminster reflected a perception on his part that the future of printing would rest on jobbing and on jobbing-like patronized book production. The generally bespoke trade in manuscript books and other verbal instruments flourishing in England already at the time had been built in this manner, on articulate customer demand in advance production.260

This perception is also reflected in his very first printed work in England, an indulgence.261 This shows that Caxton was keen on keeping his press busy. Printing indulgences was a risk-free business and “from the seller’s perspective, the benefit of having the indulgences printed was a stunning efficiency, whereby the commissary might raise more money at significant lower cost.”262 However, indulgences are merely a small part of Caxton’s publishing policy. They were simply a commodity to keep his press occupied.263 Blake even argues that most of the Latin books Caxton printed were mostly bespoke assignments and hence not part of his publishing policy.264 Caxton’s main idea was to create a new market: “His mercantile experience told him that the vernacular market could be exploited.”265 Caxton also narrowed his choice of texts considerably and judged the demand of his audience. In the very early days, Caxton, with a few exceptions, confined himself to print only small, less risky works like John Lydgate’s poem on table manners for children called Stans Puer ad Mensam.266 ←88 | 89→Such texts were comparably easy and cheap to produce and had a broad audience as they were also used for early reading lessons.267

Caxton predominantly provided vernacular material for the nobility and for the middle classes in English, primarily courtly poetry and historical prose.268 But since this kind of material was limited, Caxton was forced to either find or create new material. It is noteworthy that he did not choose to patronise new writers to write for him but to translate already existing texts into English himself and pass them on to his audience.269 According to Lotte Hellinga and Joseph Burney Trapp, “Caxton aimed to improve the quality of English life by translating into his mother tongue works embodying the lively and more widespread literary ambience he had come to know in Flanders.”270 Whether or not this assessment is accurate, his interest in financial profit can hardly be denied.271 To achieve this, he lay utmost importance on the content he offered.

From his first printed book onwards, Caxton used his prologues and epilogues as a marketing device: “Colophons and prefaces were never so chatty and informative again after Caxton’s days.”272 Probably the most famous example is his second edition of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, which he printed only six years after his first edition.273 Rather than being a simple reprint of the first edition, Caxton offered several changes. The most obvious one is the use of woodcut illustrations depicting knights and pilgrims to signify the start of a new tale. The prologue Caxton wrote for the second edition states that this edition is superior to the previous one. Caxton tells a story in which a gentleman talked to him about the flaws of the first edition. The father of this gentleman owned a far better copy with a much more accurate text and promised that if Caxton planned a second edition, he would give him the manuscript.274 Even though ←89 | 90→some scholars argued that this was merely advertising,275 Barbara Bordalejo concluded in 2005 after close textual analysis that the manuscript source for Caxton’s second edition was in fact the best possible extant source for the Canterbury Tales.276 In that case, Caxton tried to improve content value to his second edition by omitting textual inaccuracies. Whether or not Caxton’s customers appreciated the improved version of the text, Caxton’s story in the prologue in which he quite obviously addresses his own values as a printer-publisher is so elaborate that one could hardly resist to buying the second edition. The prologue probably added as much desirability of the second edition as the actual (possible) enhancement itself.

Apart from justifying his texts and translations, Caxton also used his prologues and epilogues to mention influential patrons. Even though patronage became less important for printers, it was still a factor for printers in the early days of printing. However, whereas many printers were artisans who sought financial aid in a patron, Caxton was more a merchant than an artisan or printer. He was his own financier and was therefore not necessarily dependent on monetary support.277 In contrast to manuscript times, Caxton’s paratextual elements make the changes in patronage visible, since he mentions concrete economic considerations only twice. After the Wars of the Roses, finding financial aid from aristocratic patrons was difficult since most of the nobility were dead.278 Rather, Caxton sought the prestige of the connections to the court to add symbolic value to his books. Seemingly, this was more significant for him. Margaret of Burgundy’s name in the prologue to the History of Troy already hints at this idea. Evidently, patronage itself was no warranty for success. However, mentioning aristocratic names added prestige and trustworthiness and hence value to the books. Caxton sometimes even mentions people in his texts who most probably were not involved in the creation of the edition at all. The Book of the Ordre of Chivalry279 offers a very interesting example. Within the epilogue, Caxton ←90 | 91→dedicates this book to King Richard III, but at the same time, the text almost reads like an urgent plea to the king to give this book to all his knights for education. The epilogue is ambiguous. On the one hand, Caxton might just have had in mind to mention the King of England. He may have even hoped that this kind of command might boost the sale of this book. On the other hand, from a more non-economic point of view, Caxton might have seen himself as an author of a mirror for princes to fully support the King and his army by giving him good advice.280 Such strategies to enhance the desirability of his works were clever, albeit not risk-free as it is unlikely that he officially asked for permission to use Richard III’s name.

Another example is Game of Chess, which Caxton printed in two editions.281 The first edition was dedicated to Clarence, the brother of Margaret of Burgundy and King Edward IV. After the printing of the edition in 1474, Clarence was executed for treason in 1478.282 His name in the prologue therefore suddenly became counterproductive to Caxton’s initial purpose. Consequently, the name vanishes in the second edition in 1483. The whole character of propaganda within the epilogue vanishes and is substituted by genuine information about the text.283 Mentioning persons of the nobility could, especially in uncertain political times, quickly decrease the symbolic value.

Caxton’s most important patron in his early printing years in Westminster was Anthony Woodville, second Earl Rivers.284 Both worked closely together. Caxton did not only print Rivers’ translations, most notably the Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers (as discussed in chapter 1), but also at least suggested corrections of the texts. Rivers also encouraged Caxton to print various books and probably provided the manuscripts. Recent research suggests that it was Rivers who gave ←91 | 92→Caxton Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur, on which his 1485 edition is based.285 The connection with Earl Rivers must have been highly valuable for Caxton and his books, as Rivers had flawless court credentials. Rivers’ name in Caxton’s books probably added symbolic value to them for his aristocratic readership. However, Rivers’ fall from grace and eventual execution in 1483, due to the planned usurpation by the Duke of Gloucester, must have been a severe blow for Caxton, as he lost one of his most important connections to the Court.

It was because of this political turmoil and the changes in royal influence of the previous years, as well as the growing import of books from the continent, that made printing in England, from an economic perspective, less attractive. Caxton’s business was shaped by this as his press remained idle during the mid-1480s.286 Another change started with Henry VII who apparently noticed the usefulness of the printing press for his benefits. Since at that time, Caxton was the only printer in England, he was responsible for several official royal publications.

The final years of the Caxton press were shaped by reprints of successful publications, such as The Mirrour of the World, Dicts of the Philosophers and John Mirk’s Festial, the latter even an improved edition.287 After printing a few texts that, rather fittingly, dealt with the topic of death (for example Ars Moriendi), Caxton started translating the hagiography Vitae Patrum from French into English. This was, in all likelihood, Caxton’s last job in the publishing business: according to the colophon of de Worde’s Vitae Patrum from 1495, Caxton died on the day he finished the translation.

William Caxton was a careful businessman. He had chosen to print mainly English texts, that is works that continental printers were not interested in producing. This influenced the whole history of early printing in England.288 Apart from being a wealthy merchant, it certainly had helped Caxton that by 1476 no Englishman or any foreigner had introduced printing to England.289 More importantly, his success was mainly due to his publishing policy: “[His publications] show that the chief (though not the sole) emphasis of his enterprise ←92 | 93→was placed on providing vernacular literary texts for a lay readership, rather than learned reference texts in Latin or Law French for the professional use of clerks and legists.”290

Later, continental printers seemed to be aware of Caxton’s successful publishing policy and the potential of the English book market. After Caxton’s death, Antwerp printer Gerard Leeu, instantly reprinted Caxton’s editions of History of Jason, Paris and Vienna and the Chronicles of England to sell them in England.291

Norman Blake emphasizes that Caxton made a flourishing business out of his venture unlike most of his competitors.292 Gabriele Müller-Oberhäuser agrees and states: “Caxton hat die technischen Möglichkeiten des Buchdrucks genutzt und eine erfolgreiche Druckerei in Westminster etabliert.”293 She also believes that Caxton’s influence in general is more enduring than that of his successors: “Caxton hat mit seinen Drucken die englische Frühdruckzeit nachhaltiger geprägt als de Worde oder St Albans oder Oxford.”294

Caxton was a salesman as well as a man interested in literature. Consequently, he was aware of the literary taste of his contemporaries. This distinction between being a printer and a printer-publisher and merchant is vital. In his early life, he dealt in many goods, while he later restricted his goods to printed books and manuscripts.295 He still worked as a merchant when his press was already running.296 If the new business did not prove profitable, he could always go back to being a merchant.297 While Edwards and Meale describe Caxton’s choice of books as “his most significant marketing decision,”298 Clair even points out the average printing quality of Caxton’s works. This stresses the fact that Caxton’s “greatness lies in what he printed and not how he printed.”299 Evidently, his ←93 | 94→business strategy, to “capitalise on the novelty of the material as well as on its sophistication”300 paid off.

Especially his background was important. After having spent thirty years in Burgundy, his taste of literature was influenced by its culture, which can be seen in his choice of texts he translated and printed. The primary reason for Caxton’s success was his astute sense of content value for his clients of the aristocracy and upper middle class. However, he also carefully used a form of patronage, less to seek financial assistance, but to advertise his texts with symbolic value. Since the traditional form of patronage did not work in a business of speculation with hundreds of copies to sell, Caxton sought other possibilities to make use of influential people. By mentioning powerful people in paratextual elements, Caxton sought to increase the symbolic value of his books. Even though his primary customers belonged to the aristocracy, he did not disdain a more popular market.301 Finally, Caxton showed his extraordinary sense of business with his choice of location for his printing shop at Westminster. There “he was in touch with the court and would be able to cater to what might be termed the luxury trade.”302

2.2.3. Wynkyn de Worde and Richard Pynson

When Caxton died in 1491 or early 1492, it was Wynkyn de Worde who eventually took over the printing shop. De Worde did not pick up printing activities directly after Caxton’s death. Early bibliographers argued that this can be ascribed to de Worde’s lack of vigour and enterprise. Recent studies have shown that most probably legal matters were the reason:

There is not a single document known that records the transaction that must have taken place between the executors and Wynkyn de Worde. Nixon notes that owing to the claims of Crop, probate had taken several years. Nevertheless, De Worde continued printing after an interval of no more than a year, possibly less. It therefore seems probable that in the first years he cannot have been the outright owner of the business, but had to acquire possession over a period of years. In the absence of any documents, this has to remain entirely a matter for speculation.303

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Once the legal situation of Caxton’s estate was settled, de Worde started working at an enormous speed as he printed more than a hundred editions by the end of the century.304 His activity gained momentum after 1495, and the differences between Caxton and himself are reflected in their publishing policies. This creates an intriguing situation for the analysis of the values of books in the early days of the printing press:

Since de Worde inherited the printing presses and the business, it might be supposed that the policy of the house would be maintained. But whereas printing is a technical matter in which there is little scope for individual preferences, publishing has always been, and still is, a very personal profession in which the output of a particular house reflects the taste, education, and outlook of the proprietor.305

De Worde did not completely ignore Caxton’s published works. Apart from printing Caxton’s last translation, the above-mentioned Vitae Patrum, de Worde also reprinted several popular editions of Caxton, which still promised a good sale. However, he seemed to have a specific preference: for example, de Worde reprinted only one of Caxton’s chivalry works, namely King Arthur.306 Apart from that he reprinted mostly religious or moral writings, like Festial, Quattour Sermones or the Golden Legend.307

Overall, the output of the Westminster press did change decisively, both in quantity and publishing categories. What shaped de Worde’s output the most was his background that was decidedly different from Caxton’s. De Worde was probably born in Woerden, close to Leiden and Gouda.308 Since de Worde did not master the French language, he was not able to produce translations of his own as Caxton did. And even if he had been able to translate French texts into English, his style might not have been accepted in England since he was a foreigner. In contrast to Caxton, he was not a member of a powerful guild, nor had he been in contact with the English aristocracy. Neither did he have mercantile experience even though he most probably gained at least some experience through his work with Caxton. Due to this different background, some avenues, which Caxton pursued, were closed for de Worde. And these differences are represented in his ←95 | 96→publishing policy. It is unlikely that this difference was purely based on the availability of material. Caxton, for example, did not completely ignore the market for religious books, but it was not his prime market. De Worde on the other hand initially seemed to have almost a preference for religious works. Whether this is because of his personal beliefs or not remains speculation. Since the demand for religious texts was high, it could have simply been a business decision rather than a sign of devotion.

Norman Blake examined de Worde’s publishing policy concerning reprints to weaken the accusations of scholars like Plomer that he was a printer who preferred reprinting mainly cheap, small books instead of more expensive, original editions.309 He concludes that de Worde did in fact print smaller reprints. However, since de Worde’s printing career is stretched over 40 years (compared to Caxton’s 17 years) it is not surprising that he did produce such reprints. Blake argues that those reprints were usually “intended for a specialised audience and most of them had their length and format well established by tradition.”310 De Worde did not print those reprints because they were cheap, but because there was a great demand for those books. Apart from that there can be no doubt that he was willing to print or reprint long works.311 It was not de Worde’s responsibility that the texts in demand in his times were of smaller size. Therefore, these examples do not emphasize de Worde’s laziness or inability to print larger works, they only stress his sense for the book market. Julian Notary, a contemporary printer in de Worde’s lifetime, is a prime example that absence in originality in a publishing policy might also end up creating economic success: even though Notary printed only about 40 items and primarily focused on reprints, his income provided him with a reasonable living.312

De Worde has always been described as a successful businessman, albeit with different connotations. One important decision de Worde made was the move from Westminster to Fleet Street, London in 1500.313 Early scholars suggested ←96 | 97→that he decided to sell more popular and cheaper books and needed to be closer to the people who were to be his new clientele. Therefore, de Worde was oftentimes accused of being the “popular printer.” John Feather labels de Worde as the printer “who really began the commercialisation of the production of printed books in England.”314 Westminster may have been the perfect location for de Worde’s master, but without the financial backing that Caxton had with his merchant business, de Worde had no future in Westminster. Not only did he have to cater to a different market, he also had to deal with competition, whereas Caxton had next to none. For printers, London was the place to be:

More and more presses were being established in London though no further ones were set up at Westminster, so that it would be easier in London to find out what others were printing and how successful they were […]. No doubt it was also easier to recruit helpers, both technical and professional, in London than at Westminster; and since we can identify many of his helpers while he was at Fleet Street, the ability to recruit assistants may have been an important consideration for his move.315

De Worde’s business flourished at the new location. For the first time he printed English translations from French texts, though not translated by himself, but by his newly employed apprentices, mainly Robert Copland.316 Even though Copland’s relationship with de Worde is not clear, it is certain that Copland translated texts for him between 1508 and 1514. Afterwards he is known to be a printer who issued books with de Worde’s printer’s device, a trademark that was supposed to establish the printer’s identity.317 However, even though de Worde decided to print translations after 1500, it was still a very small proportion of his whole output.

He also printed works of contemporary English poets. Special attention needs to be paid to the close connection to Stephen Hawes. Whereas de Worde printed single works by contemporary poets such as John Skelton or William Neville now and then, he was the first printer of all of Hawes’ poems.318 This ←97 | 98→collaboration between poet and printer is unusually close. Not only is it possible that de Worde himself decided to print Hawes’ poems instead of being asked by a patron or the poet himself, de Worde even illustrated Hawes’ poems with woodcuts which oftentimes show details of Hawes’ verses. Such close correlation between the visual and textual level of a text is unprecedented.319 No matter why de Worde decided to add illustrations, they probably enhanced the desire of potential buyers and consequently added content value to de Worde’s books.

He also printed poems by Lydgate, even some of those that were not issued by Caxton. Particularly interesting is de Worde’s publication of Skelton’s Bowge of Court.320 Even though Skelton was an established poet by then, the work itself was not. Publishing a new poem before its popularity was confirmed in manuscript form was seen as a risky business decision. This does not only emphasize de Worde’s eagerness to support contemporary English authors, but stresses even more his willingness to make financially risky business decisions.321

One of the largest shares of de Worde’s publications, however, consists of schoolbooks, especially grammatical texts by the English grammarians Stanbridge and Whittington.322 De Worde may have even co-operated with Whittington and acted as his publisher. The colophon to the 1526 edition of Whittington’s De heteroclitis nominibus323 is complimentary in character.324 According to A. S. G. Edwards, the surviving output of such grammatical texts amounts to about a third of his material.325 Even though he had been printing grammars now and then, a considerable increase of such publications by de Worde can be observed around 1512. This publishing policy had probably been influenced by his main competitor, Richard Pynson:

He may have realised from Pynson’s success with these works that there was a good market for them, but since he intended most of his publications for a clerical audience ←98 | 99→and since the predominant buyers of grammatical and scholarly works were clerics, their publication may have followed on naturally from his publication of religious works.326

Peter W.M. Blayney stresses in his account of the Stationers’ Company that the second generation of printers in England was in fact spearheaded by Richard Pynson.327 Plomer shares this opinion. Although Pynson was falling behind de Worde with his output (estimated to be about 600 items), he was “in the whole, […] superior as a workman, and produced many books, which, like the Morton Missal, were far in advance of anything that had been produced by any other printer in England.”328 In fact, the Morton Missal is considered to be one of the most beautiful books produced in England in the incunabula period.329

Richard Pynson was born around 1449 in French Normandy. He mastered Norman French, which was a decided advantage for a printer in England.330 He was probably educated at the University of Paris where he may have developed an interest in books.331 It is unknown where Pynson acquired the art of printing. Before his printing career he was a pouch-maker. Since he was later also responsible for bindings, Hellinga assumes that he found his way into printing via his leather business. Neville-Sington speculates that the London printer and Caxton contemporary William de Machlinia might have been Pynson’s master, but Goldfinch, Hellinga and Nickson rightly refuse Machlinia’s wastepaper in ←99 | 100→Pynson’s bindings as sufficient proof.332 It is interesting to notice that Pynson’s name does not appear in the Custom Rolls. This suggests that he was not a bookseller, but solely a printer, which would distinguish him from his main competitors.333

Starting his printing business around 1490, Pynson worked outside Temple Bar in St Clement Danes. In 1502, he moved to Fleet Street, partially because of a xenophobic attack. But like de Worde, Pynson must have known that this area of London was a more interesting place for printers. Carlson states that Pynson’s move embodies “a recognition of the proper nature of the only foundation on which a local printing industry could be securely built.”334

Throughout his printing career, Pynson showed a consistent cautiousness in his publishing policy. In his early days, he primarily, though not exclusively, sought to enter risk-free markets. His output was either connected to a direct subvention or at least to a good promise for a market. Edwards and Meale calculate that about half of Pynson’s surviving output was printed with “various kinds of institutional encouragement.”335 In the year 1498, for instance, Pynson printed over a hundred indulgences, which is about one sixth of his surviving output. However, Pynson was not solely working in risk-free areas. Apart from reprinting Caxton’s second edition of the Canterbury Tales336 as early as 1492, he was also willing to print an English version of Sebastian Brant’s German satire Narrenschiff in 1509.337 At that point he knew that de Worde was working on an English translation (by Henry Watson) at the same time.338 This offers a rare opportunity to assess how printers might have added value to their product because they came in direct competition. De Worde’s quarto edition was published just before Pynson’s translation was finished. Pynson, however, did not discard his edition, probably because he already had put so much effort into this work. He also may have been confident that his edition was superior because it was a translation of the poet Alexander Barclay, who was linked by his ←100 | 101→contemporaries to Chaucer, Lydgate and Skelton.339 Carlson states that Barclay suggested to Pynson to place woodcuts into the text to illustrate the stories.340 Their close connection is also revealed in the last stanza of Barclay’s Ship of Fools, where Pynson’s printing shop is mentioned:

Our shyp here levyth the sees brode,

By helpe of God almyght, and quyetly

At anker we lye within the rode.

But who that lysteth of them to bye,

In Flete strete shall them fynde, truly,

At the George, in Richa<r>de Pynsonnes place,

Prynter unto the Kynges nobles grace.

Deo gratias341

This name-dropping was probably supposed to work both ways: Pynson was connected to the prestige of the respected translator and poet Barclay, and Barclay emphasized that his translation was printed by Pynson, who had by then assumed William Faques’ position as regius impressor, the ‘King’s Printer.’ This position was created by Henry VII in 1504, probably based on the French model of Charles VIII who had appointed Pierre Le Rouge as his printer from at least 1487 until 1493.342 The exact motivation for creating such a post by Henry VII is not entirely clear. The advantage for both printer and ruler might be mostly symbolic in nature. The position of King’s Printer did not grant a monopoly for printing statutes or other government documents. In fact, it was not Pynson but de Worde who was busy printing such documents between 1506 and 1510.343 This raises the question why Pynson was appointed King’s Printer and not de Worde. Neville assumes that Pynson, like Faques before him, was chosen because of his superior printing abilities. If Henry VII really modelled his regius impressor after the example of Pierre Le Rouge, who was a renowned calligrapher, then choosing an accomplished printer who created the finest prints in the country was the logical conclusion:

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Although Henry VII took advantage of the press to disseminate the law of the land and his propaganda, he seems to have valued the office of King’s Printer much as he did his library solely for the prestige it brought him. Perhaps he still had the example of the French imprimeur du roi too much in mind.344

For Henry VII, having the best printer of the country at his disposal seemed reason enough for this position. The printer gained likewise from such a post, albeit not in many commissioned works, but in symbolic form. However, it might not have helped him in the Ship of Fools competition. If reprints are a sign of demand, then Pynson had to admit defeat: de Worde reprinted his Watson translation already in 1517, whereas Pynson did not usher a reprint at all. Barclay’s translation, for which Pynson was responsible, was first reprinted in 1570.345

Overall, Pynson’s output was hugely influenced by his title of King’s Printer. He may even have been limited in pursuing new outlets for his work because of his position. Since being the King’s Printer kept his press busy, it explains why he rarely engaged in printing risky publications. It is also telling to see how unaccustomed he was to competition. In his later years, Robert Redman was not only reprinting Pynson’s editions, but he also had contrived means to publish statutes before the King’s Printer.346 Apart from Ship of Fools, Pynson had never officially been in direct competition with Wynkyn de Worde. Edwards and Meale see a system in this:

It may more plausibly reflect a movement from opportunistic diversification on the part of early printers to forms of consolidation and specialization involving a pragmatic approach to sharing and developing particular markets according to differing commitments (such as Pynson’s as royal printer) and differing technical capacities.347

Pynson proved to be successful due to his competent and risk-averse publishing strategy. The output of his press may have been varied, but it was still narrowed in scope, especially in comparison to de Worde. Pynson was very careful of his business, as he mainly chose to print books which were intended for a fixed market.

Wynkyn de Worde had support from the upper classes as well. Even though he did have occasional patrons from the nobility, his patrons were mainly religious in nature, like the Bishop of Durham or the Prior of St Anne’s.348 However, ←102 | 103→one of the most influential persons in de Worde’s life was Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VI:

At the centre of these networks stands the figure of Lady Margaret Beaufort who, it would seem, through her own developed literary and devotional preoccupations became a means of stimulating new publishing initiatives, and hence new market for early printed books.349

Edwards and Meal suggest that she provided the “impetus for de Worde to establish new markets for religious books.”350 In fact, it can be argued that Margaret’s as well as the King’s devout attitude may have reinforced de Worde’s conviction to focus on the trade of religious works.351 Still, even though de Worde styled himself as Margaret’s printer, its meaning should not be overestimated. Margaret Beaufort had by no means an exclusive relationship with Wynkyn de Worde. Pynson, for example, printed her translations first. Whether de Worde chose to call himself “printer to the Princess Margaret” to oppose Pynson’s role as King’s Printer remains speculation.352 According to the extant material, he did not use this title before and after 1509, the year of Margaret’s death. Since this title was mentioned in only a few select editions printed in 1509, it might be possible that Margaret herself chose the titles where de Worde was allowed to use it. In his 1525 reprint of John Fisher’s Fruitful Sayings of David,353 he states that he had once been the printer to the Princess Margaret by inserting a “sometime” before the title.354 If the title had been used primarily as symbolic value, it seems careless to not have used it more often. However, patronage in general became less important for the book trade during the sixteenth century.355 Rather than being dependent on patronage, printers started becoming patrons. As Edwards and Meale put it: “Indeed, patronage itself undergoes a sea change.”356

Wynkyn de Worde’s case shows other vital factors for a successful printing enterprise. His policy was important for the acceptance of the printed book. When he took over Caxton’s press in 1491, circumstances for printers were different than they had been in Caxton’s days. At the beginning, de Worde ←103 | 104→established a connection with his successful predecessor by using Caxton’s printer’s device as symbolic value. This reference to Caxton could attract more customers. His move from Westminster to Fleet Street illustrates the indispensable changes that were necessary due to the changing market conditions. He lacked Caxton’s connections to the court and therefore was forced to seek a different clientele.357 This had not only been a prerequisite for de Worde, but for all printers following Caxton. Richard Pynson and William de Machlinia moved from Westminster to London as well, which only confirms the importance of this location.

One of de Worde’s most significant divergences from Caxton’s policy also developed at Fleet Street. He chose to print contemporary English poets, which Caxton had hardly done. De Worde must have known that he was not capable of producing adequate translations on his own or he was not interested. Therefore, he hired translators and printers. His use of patronage also diverged from Caxton as it became less important. Even though de Worde did have a few patrons within the nobility and the merchant-class, he focussed on clerical patrons in his later years.

Richard Pynson represents a different character of a successful printer. He seldom went out of his way with his publishing policy and therefore hardly operated outside his risk-free market-niche. Most of his prints were undertaken with some sort of security, for example jobbing printing like indulgences, of which he printed a great deal. When Pynson was appointed Printer to the King around 1508, he was not forced to constantly assess the speculative trade as he printed many commissioned texts. Because of his unique position he was not used to competition. Pynson’s output is interesting as he was responsible for texts that neither Caxton nor de Worde printed. This suggests some arrangement between the printers. They seemed to have shared the market. Pynson may not have had the most daring publishing policy, but his success proves that a stable market for printers was available. The support by political institutions further leads to the conclusion that printed books were regarded as a necessity. The position of King’s Printer clearly indicates that the new production method was widely accepted. Overall, it can further be concluded that, more often than not, it was the economic value that was of importance for the printers.

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Comparing Caxton, de Worde and Pynson

Printing in London became more competitive during the sixteenth century. While in the year 1500 London had merely five printers, the number grew to 33 in 1523.358 Whereas Caxton might have had the opportunity to lead public taste, it was different for his successors. They needed to follow public taste or speculate what might be fashionable. This raises the question how Caxton, de Worde and Pynson’s businesses can be evaluated in comparison. All of them showed an astute sense of business. This demonstrates that success in the early days of printing largely depended on publishing decisions. But, when necessary, printer-publishers had to react to the changing acceptance context, as the examples of printers with their move to Fleet Street have shown.

Caxton’s printing abilities were no match for the experienced presses on the continent. Caxton himself must have been aware of his wanting artistic printing talents. In 1487, he was ordered to print a Sarum Missal.359 However, Caxton must have felt that he was not capable of printing this work adequately: instead of losing the order, he commissioned William Maynal, a printer in Paris, to print this service book. Caxton instructed the printer to mention in the colophon that he was printing it for Caxton. Afterwards, he added his printer’s device to the sheets when they arrived at Westminster.360 However, since his competitors in England were few, with Johannes Lettou and William de Machlinia in London as well as the St Albans printer and the short-lived Oxford press (see chapter 2.2.4), the quality of his prints could be neglected. Caxton was astute enough to make a profitable business out of a new technique to produce books. He planned his business carefully and chose his audience and texts wisely. Caxton also used the established distribution channels in his days. His business may have been medieval and built on aristocratic patronage, but he already realized that the old system of literary patronage would not apply for him. His use of important names in his prologues along with his oftentimes fictitious stories and explanations to make a text more desirable shows that this man was above all a merchant who knew how to add value to his commodities.

In comparison, Plomer argues that de Worde was also delivering a good product, even though he accuses him of being “careless at times.”361 When de Worde got hold of a copy of The Horse, the Sheep, and the Ghoos362 to reprint it, ←105 | 106→he did not notice a missing leaf and printed it exactly as he found it. Another example is his 1496 reprint of Dives et Pauper,363 a work which had been previously printed by Richard Pynson in 1493. Compared to Pynson’s edition, de Worde’s work seems more clustered. Even though the text is based on Pynson’s edition,364 the layout was not. Pynson’s use of more white space, especially between chapters, and bigger type size overall result in a more legible and harmonious page design. However, it also increases the number of pages.365 Even though both editions use the folio format and two columns (except for the tabula, for which Pynson uses only one column), Pynson’s edition counts no less than 464 pages, de Worde’s edition only 390 pages. De Worde added three woodcut illustrations to his edition: one as a title-page, one before the tabula, and again the title-page illustration separating the tabula and the main part.

De Worde and Pynson were different printers on several levels. De Worde’s business seemed to be more successful from an economic perspective.366 This can partially be explained by de Worde’s specialization on grammars. Whereas Pynson hardly printed educational books, de Worde established his wealth with exactly such texts. Alternately, Pynson refused to focus on religious texts, which gave de Worde more possibilities to widen his choice of material.367

The use of illustrations was to become a trait for de Worde’s output. Over half of his output contains woodcuts.368 Edwards and Meale assume that those illustrations

[…] provided a visual accompaniment to texts with nationalistic bias, principally as a means of making [de Worde’s] books a more attractive prospect [and] it may be noted that it was de Worde who most comprehensively responded to the challenge posed by the sophisticated design and iconography of the books issued by continental printers[.];369

←106 | 107→

Probably, de Worde may have been aware of some of his deficiencies as a printer and used the illustrations as an effective marketing device as added content value.370 Further, he used illustrations to stress his connection to Caxton. Following his master’s death, he initially kept adding Caxton’s original printer’s device at the end of texts.

Such marks were not found in manuscripts, and scribes rarely revealed their names. Printed books, however, needed to be actively sold, and printers therefore needed to be known and recognised by the public. By identifying the maker of a book for prospective customers, the printer’s mark functioned as both a label and an advertisement.371

De Worde seemed to be aware of these functions and heavily used them. Most notably, he even printed his device in red ink in his edition of the Book of Hawking, Hunting and Heraldry.372 Later, de Worde changed from his master’s to his own printer’s device, which still resembled Caxton’s version. De Worde probably used it as a symbol of continuity between the two businesses and thereby added symbolic value to his books.

De Worde is also known as the first English printer to use title-pages regularly, thereby establishing and standardizing them. He subsequently expanded on this idea in further publications, as his first title-pages are rather “crude and perfunctory.”373 His title-page of St Jerome’s Vitae Patrum,374 for example, simply consists of the short title (albeit incorrectly spelled as “Vitas Patrum”) in xylographic printing. Later title-pages further elaborated on the author of the work and added elements of decoration as well as portraits or other illustrations. For example, Martha Driver mentions several title-pages which are, in all likelihood, depicting the religious author Richard Rolle.375 Further, the depiction of Margaret Beaufort’s badge on title-pages (for example, in The Remedy Against the Troubles of Temptations from 1508 or de Worde’s 1522 edition of The Mirroure of Golde for the Synfull Soule)376 hints at a connection between text and Margaret ←107 | 108→and can be assessed as advertising on de Worde’s behalf.377 All these elements added symbolic value for his commodities.

William Caxton is oftentimes labelled as a rather conservative figure within the book trade partly because of his rare use of woodcuts as well as the clear influence of manuscript practice on his books.378 Caxton’s first use of woodcuts was included in his The Mirror of the World, printed in 1481.379 Before that publication, Driver assumes, Caxton did not have access to the necessary expertise in Westminster.380 Though woodcuts produced in England were generally described as inferior to the European counterparts and much more so in contrast to manuscript miniatures, the inclusion of illustrations seemed necessary for Caxton, as competitors used them frequently to entice more customers. Despite their inferior artistic quality, their content value nevertheless gained importance due to their functional qualities: “They were used more methodically to divide and organize text, to make text and meaning more accessible.”381 In fact, Caxton mentions in his introduction to The Mirror of the World that the text needs illustrations so it can be understood.382 Wynkyn de Worde’s ample use of woodcut illustrations as well as the prominent use of the title-page to market his books are generally seen as impulses away from the manuscript towards an independent medium with inherent features along with further implications on the book trade:

With printing, not only did perceptions of the book change, but there is a decided shift in the relationship between the producer of the book and his audience. The printer is a step away from the presumably close connection between scribe and patron. Labelling the book, advising a prospective buyer of its contents, makes good business sense, an integral aspect of selling the product.383

In this sense, Wynkyn de Worde is a vital part of the emancipation of the printed book from the manuscript in England.

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2.2.4. The English Provinces

While Caxton, Pynson and de Worde essentially set up successful printing businesses in Westminster and London, respectively, other parts of the country, at least seemingly, offered promising locations for print production, too. As Elizabeth Eisenstein argued in her seminal work Printing Press as an Agent of Change, printing affected European history on many levels with quantitative as well as qualitative aspects. It facilitated comparisons, criticism and communication and was able to speed up scientific progress to an enormous degree. However, it is a fallacy to assume that cities with universities or clerical institutions would be almost guaranteed success as locations for printers. Still, such institutions were sometimes the impetus for printing businesses. In England, Oxford, Cambridge and St Albans stand out as places of early provincial printing that, ultimately, failed.

Oxford (1478–1519)

The demand for Latin texts in England in the early days of printing was sufficiently satisfied by imports from the continent. Hardly any presses in England printed them. However, as Hellinga and Trapp put it: “Exceptions to this are all the more intriguing.”384 Oxford operated as a place for printed book production between 1478 and 1483 by at least two different printers and then again for less than a year between 1517 and 1518.385 The history of the first Oxford printing press is concise but revealing and it is famous for one of the most controversial misprints to be found in an early printed book: according to the colophon of Exposicio sancti Ieronimi in simbolum apostolorum, the first printed book in Oxford left the press in 1468, thus making Oxford one of the earliest cities with a press and beating William Caxton by eight years.386 Oxford, being a university city, had a book trade before the establishment of the early printing presses.387 In all likelihood it was James Goldwell, bishop of Norwich from 1472 to 1499, who was responsible for setting up the first press in Oxford. This suggestion seems ←109 | 110→tenable, since the bishop had been a student at Oxford’s university and was a renowned book lover.388 Hellinga has established that at least the choice for the first printed work in Oxford can be traced back to Goldwell.389 With Goldwell’s links, it should have been possible to persuade a printer to establish a business in Oxford. If Goldwell was indeed the impetus for the Oxford printing press, the situation is similar to different printing presses on the continent, as Blake suggests: “A printer of German origins, who was trained in one of the major printing centres there, was encouraged to move to a city with a university in another country under the prompting of an eminent churchman and man of learning.”390

Though it has been assumed that Oxford’s first press was occupied by Theodoric Rood, it was later established that he arrived and worked in Oxford only from 1481 onwards. The previous printer remains anonymous, and the quality of his prints is wanting. Kristian Jensen points out that the type used in the first Oxford print is identical to the type used by Cologne printer Gerard ten Raem and called the first Oxford press a “‘branch office’ of a Cologne printing enterprise.”391 Describing the quality of the first Oxford print, Hellinga concludes that “the typesetting was far from expert, leaving gaps or compressing text where the counting had failed to produce a realistic estimate. Experienced compositors know how to avoid such irregularities.”392 It is also noteworthy that this text, as well as the second one, was not part of the Oxford university curriculum. According to Hellinga, the third book printed in Oxford is different for two reasons: first, the printer apparently acquired a more sophisticated press, being now able to print two pages at the time. Second, the printer was “now meeting the requirements of the university curriculum.”393 Jensen disagrees and summarizes the three works from the first Oxford press as follows:

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[T];he three books produced by the same unidentified Oxford printer are similar in that they were all suitable for study by senior members of colleges or religious houses with access to institutional collections. They were not for student use or teaching, nor were they produced to promote the reputations of their authors.394

In any case, after this print, no further works were printed in Oxford for two years until Rood took over. The precise reason why he settled in Oxford is not known. It is believed that Rood was sent by a Cologne consortium to establish a “successful printing operation at the long established University city of Oxford.”395 This is not surprising because Cologne did have twelve years of experience with the art of printing at that point. Further, the import of books from Cologne was staggering. But sending someone from Cologne to a location that needed Latin texts was by no means a guaranteed commercial success.396

At first glance, the textual output of Rood’s press can be described as well-chosen.397 As opposed to Caxton’s press, it is not clear whether Rood’s press was a speculative business or whether he was asked by the university to print specifically on demand. The latter seems probable since none of the books by Rood show any signs of local patronage, which would have been unusual for a speculative printer in the early days of printing.398 The output was furthermore clearly orientated towards the academic market. However, there is no evidence that Rood was officially working for the academic institution.

The number of reprints emphasizes the quality of the publishing policy of Rood. For example, his 1483 print of John Anwykyll’s Compendium totius grammaticae399 was reprinted in the next fifty years no less than forty times.400 The Explicit opus … super constituc[i];ones prouinciales,401 which is Rood’s largest book, printed around 1483, was also reprinted at least six times in London. ←111 | 112→The Oxford press was also responsible for the first print of a classical text in England with Cicero’s Oratio pro T. Annio Milone.402 The printing of this work is a sign of Oxford being open to modern influences: “A consequence of the growth of the New Learning was that bad Latin was ceasing to be a second language and good Latin, based on the classical authors, was becoming a school subject, as revealed in this grammar inspired by Nicholas Perotti’s book of 1473 […].”403

The 1486/1487 edition of John Mirk’s Liber festivalis404 has for a long time been connected to Rood as well. However, this publication deviates from the previous Oxford texts since it is, despite its Latin title, the only text in English. Speculation about this choice ranges from awareness of the competition in Latin texts from the continent to simply trying to imitate Caxton’s enormous success with vernacular texts:

The Oxford printer could see that Caxton was active in Westminster and that his press was flourishing. The bulk of his books produced by him were in English, and the publication of the Liber festivalis looks like a desperate attempt to change direction to prevent bankruptcy by imitating a policy that was already well established elsewhere. Even the book chosen was one which had already been published at Westminster.405

Rood indeed could have been under financial pressure. The academic market was mainly satisfied, and he may have been looking for a different market to keep his business running. Mirk’s collections of sermons, after all, was a very popular text at the time, being the most printed English text in the fifteenth century. However, the Liber festivalis was most probably not printed by Rood, but by an anonymous printer using one of Rood’s type. If this is true, it is not certain that it was printed in Oxford either.406 After its publication, Oxford printing ceased for thirty years. John Feather comes to a definitive conclusion: “[W];e may take it that the first Oxford press was a commercial disaster.”407 The press was probably established to satisfy the market of the university of Oxford. Although this might have been a successful strategy on the continent, it was bound to fail in England. Competition from the continent was still too strong for Latin texts printed in England. The experience from continental printers could not be matched easily ←112 | 113→by relatively unpractised printers. Also, printing for institutions was only viable for a while. Books were usually used carefully and were not exposed to destructive circumstances, therefore lasting extensively.408 As soon as the demand was satisfied, there were hardly chances of developing a new market. Finally, Richard III’s Act of 1484, which encouraged the importation of books from abroad, dampened chances of success of a small press in Oxford.

Rood was not able to maintain his business, although he was an able printer (especially compared to his predecessor in Oxford) and had a decent publishing policy. Apart from showing his understanding of the market by his choice of texts, he also sometimes offered variations within an edition, as is the case for Lathbury’s Liber moralium super threnos Jeremiae.409 For this work, Rood also produced a few de luxe copies printed on vellum. Other copies have extensive woodcut borders on their opening page showing boughs and birds. For this and possible other works, Rood was further supported by Thomas Hunte, the university’s stationer, with whom he had a business association.410

It is not known where Theodoric Rood went after he had left Oxford. Since a printer named “Theodoric” started printing in Cologne in 1485, Duff suggests that Rood may have returned to Cologne.411 In any case, thirty years passed before another printing press was set up in Oxford. This emphasizes that the university did have access to books and did not rely on a printing press on their premises. The brief resurgence of printing in Oxford lasted about six months around 1517 and 1518 under John Scolar,412 with a short revival around 1519 by Charles Kyrforth.413 Nicolas Barker even judged that “there is no evidence to explain the brief appearance of the second Oxford press […].”414 The market of Latin books was satisfied. Being responsible for nine editions overall (Scolar eight, Kyrforth one), what stands out most is that all editions have a clear focus on university use.415 In fact, John Scolar was apparently recognized by the university. This makes him the first printer officially privileged and approved by a ←113 | 114→university, six months before an English king made a similar grant.416 Both Scolar and Kyrforth used a printer’s device showing the university’s coat of arms to demonstrate their connection to the academic institution.417 A printed notice under the colophon of Questiones moralissime super libros Ethicoru[m]; eruditissimi viri Ioannis Dedicus418 emphasizes the first idea of monopoly for an Oxford print:

It is forbidden by edict under the seal of the Chancery for anyone during seven years to print this excellent work, or sell it in form paid for by another person in the University of Oxford or within its precinct, on pain of losing all the books and five pounds sterling for every copy sold, wherever the books were printed, in addition to the other penalty provided by the edict. Don’t think you can blind the crows.419

However, it is unclear whether this was actually enforced.420 By focussing on academic use, the Scolar/Kyrforth printing venture does stand out as rather conservative. Their printed works included books by famous Oxford scholars of the fourteenth century and a book to calculate dates with Roman numerals. There is evidently a focus on the traditional education and not a sign of humanistic work.421 Despite catering to the more obvious local market, it is very likely that the Scolar and Kyrforth businesses succumbed to financial insolvency. The university, in any case, did not feel obliged to support the two printing presses financially. In fact, this only happened 64 years later for the first time.422

Cambridge (1520–1522)

Further printers tried to set up flourishing businesses in the English provinces. Johannes Siberch, a native of Siegburg near Cologne, settled in Cambridge around 1520 and was responsible for at least nine editions in his house near Caius College. The impetus for Siberch’s printing career in Cambridge is most probably the humanist group which centred around Richard Croke, a Greek scholar from London.423 It is believed that Croke entrusted Siberch with the reprint of ←114 | 115→his Introductiones in rudimenta graeca,424 since no other English printer possessed a fount of Greek type.425 Siberch seemed to be an obvious choice. Apart from already having printing experience, Siberch had studied at the university in Cologne, had a kinship with a famous publishing family in Antwerp and was an experienced bookseller, who had, prior to his job in Cambridge, travelled to England and other countries.426

Siberch’s exact role in Cambridge is not clear. Even though he is sometimes mentioned as the university printer, there is no evidence that he was officially appointed. However, it is known that between 1520 and 1521, he received 20£ from the university, which must have been payment for his printing activities.427 However, there are no sources that state that such an imbursement was repeated.428

Siberch’s printing output was clearly orientated towards the academic market. Nevertheless, he ceased his printing activities after only two years, gave up his printing business and joined the church.429 He returned to the continent where he lived his last years as a priest in his hometown.430

The geographical position of Cambridge, on the edge of the moors and at the head of a navigable river, gave it many advantages in an agricultural economy, but offered few to the development of any manufacturing that would depend on London as its principle market for raw materials.431 Hence, the printing press relied solely on the demand of the Cambridge university. However, it still obtained books from London or from abroad.432 Even after the Act of Henry ←115 | 116→VIII in 1534, which intervened with the importation of books from abroad, no printing press in Cambridge was established until 1583.433

The early presses in Oxford and Cambridge shared similar problems: “The idea of a university press was a new one. Though universities had indeed, and for centuries, been accustomed to provide books for teaching, there was no tradition of publishing learned works or editions of manuscripts in the college and university libraries.”434 In other words, university presses lacked the experience of publishing. McKitterick argues that universities underestimated the complex procedures of publishing and just focused on producing the books while neglecting equally important tasks like marketing and possible ways of distribution. The idea of the printed book becoming more a commodity and therefore gaining more economic value might have been alien to universities at the beginning.

St Albans (1479–1486)

The wealthy abbey of St Albans in Hertfordshire, roughly 25 miles northwest of London, had been a centre for learning in England and was famous for its important library in the Middle Ages.435 It was also known for its important manuscript production for centuries with a focus on historiography.436 Establishing a printing press within a location which is renowned for its business with books seemed promising. The people responsible for the establishment of the printing press in St Albans and who the printers were, remains a mystery. When Wynkyn de Worde reprinted the last two books printed in St Albans in the fifteenth century, he labelled the printer as “sometyme scole master of saynt Albons.”437 Therefore, the printer is generally described as the ‘schoolmaster printer.’ Current research, however, suggests that this is more likely a misunderstanding and misleading.438

In a rather short amount of time, three founts of type were cast in the abbey, two of them representing an English script style, now known as the ‘St Albans hand’ and one modelled on Caxton’s large bastarda type he used until 1484. The printing ←116 | 117→activities in St Albans in the fifteenth century can be divided into two phases: the Latin phase from 1479–1481 and the English phase in 1486.439 Hellinga evaluates the works printed during the first phase as “all expertly typeset and printed.”440 The first edition, content-wise, was no exceptional choice as it had been previously printed many times. It was the Elegantiolae441 by the Tuscan writer Augustinus Datus, a small work aiding in letter writing and composition.442 The print itself has no date and the colophon simply reads “[Impressum fuit op[us] hoc apud S[an]c[tu]m Albanu[m];.”443 However, it is by now generally accepted that this work was printed around 1479 or 1480, just a little later than Oxford’s first print.444 The type of this print is described by Blake as an “elegant gothic letter which looks to have links with Italy […]”445 Hellinga describes the type as “elaborate and delicate”446 and speculates that more works may have been printed with such a type with no extant copies. The second edition from this press, the Nova Rhetorica447 uses a type reminiscent of Caxton’s type 2, probably to establish a connection to the respected printer in Westminster and thereby creating symbolic value. The choice of this book also seems to be derived from Caxton’s success, as he had printed this work earlier. The last texts printed by the St Albans press were rather large works, all in Latin and either of an academic or a religious nature. After the last three works were all printed in 1481, printing ceased in St Albans until 1486.

The second phase of the St Albans printing venture only consists of two works, both printed in the English vernacular, and both editions offer colour printing (blue, red, gold/yellow), unique for England at that time. Whether this may indicate an attempt to entice more buyers is speculation. Hellinga at least mentions the possibility that a different printer was responsible.448 The first of the English texts was the Chronicles of England,449 a popular work that had already been printed twice by Caxton by that time.450 This title continued ←117 | 118→the abbey’s tradition of focussing on historiography, albeit not in Latin. The last edition from the second phase of the early St Albans press, the Book of Hawking, Hunting and Blasing of Arms, now also known as the Boke of St Albans,451 stands out not only because it is a work in the vernacular: it was also directed at a secular market instead of an academic or religious one.452 It is a small folio of ninety leaves and consists of two parts. The first deals with the art of hawking and hunting, while the second part is an account of “the blasing of arms to enable people to distinguish gentlemen from other people.”453 This print did not go unnoticed by more successful printers in England. In fact, Wynkyn de Worde produced a reprint ten years later, with an added part on fishing to increase its content value.454 However, the appeal of the Boke of St Albans did not help the St Albans press. It was the last print of the early print venture in the province:

Although the texts in Latin produced by the St Albans press are not so insular as those emanating from Oxford, we may assume that the market for them was not great enough to keep the press solvent. Equally the competition from foreign presses for books of this type was likely to be severe. St Albans did not even have the benefit of an academic community on its doorstep, though both Oxford and Cambridge were within easy travelling distance. It may well be, though, that the trade routes from St Albans to these two universities were not well established, and the number of people who visited St Albans was perhaps not sufficient to make the press economic.455

Just like the early presses in Oxford and Cambridge, the market for printed books in St Albans was not large enough to keep the business running. The publishing policy may have been astute, the printing quality acceptable and the Boke of St Albans may even have been the first print with colours in England, even though its execution may have been average at best. However, the main disadvantage ←118 | 119→and the consequential economic failure of the St Albans press lies in the geographic location: it was not viable since no good trade routes were established in the late fifteenth century. The market that the press could reach did not produce enough demand to keep the press afloat. The final prints in the vernacular may show an attempt to change from a specialized publishing policy to accommodate a wider market. However, even though the press turned to books where foreign rivalry would not be felt, it was again beaten by the already available vernacular texts printed by Caxton.456

In hindsight, it is not surprising that the first presses of Oxford, Cambridge and St Albans succumbed early on. Caxton, de Worde and Pynson had found their ways to bypass this drawback, the provincial printers did not. Printing may have sped up book production, but the success of printers still depended on, and, at the same time, was threatened by, the existing channels of trade. The publishing policy of the printer-publisher was vital, especially regarding competition, local as well as international. The book market was risky, especially in the early days of printing. Caxton’s decision to establish a new market for vernacular texts with prose translations helped to establish the printing press in Britain. However, it must be emphasized that in some cases a prudent publishing policy would not have sufficed either. Caxton and de Worde may have been shrewd businessmen. However, their shrewdness would probably not have made much difference if their presses had been established in Oxford or St Albans with limited access to customers. John Feather’s estimate concerning the provincial printers is adequate:

The monasteries and universities and cathedrals of England, great institutions as they were, could not themselves provide a sufficient market, and were not equipped to reach markets elsewhere. In retrospect, these presses can be seen not so much as the harbingers of the new age but rather as the last heirs of the medieval tradition of localised book production for local use.457

2.3. Acceptance of the Printed Book in England

The occasional economic failures of early printing presses in England are no sign that the printed book itself was not accepted by readers. The case studies have demonstrated that there are certain key factors which can be taken into consideration when evaluating the economic stability of printing presses. The existing acceptance context in England was not ideal for starting the new business of ←119 | 120→printed books. However, since English manuscript production was rising at that time, one can conclude that there was a growing market for the written word.458 Literacy rates in England were increasing. A growth, albeit slow, of readership and potential customers was existent. However, the advantage of technical experience on the continent led to fierce competition from abroad.

In her monograph The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (1979), Elizabeth Eisenstein discusses the question whether the consequences of the introduction of the printing press were revolutionary or evolutionary.459 Eisenstein was in favour of the former and promulgates her view that the introduction of the printing press demarcates the shift from medieval to early modern times in Western Europe. She established her idea of a “print culture” which is shaped by the advantages of standardization, dissemination and textual fixity of printed works in contrast to manuscripts. Over the course of several years, she received a fair amount of criticism, mainly for her lack of using primary sources along with several generalizations and the overall deterministic conclusions deduced from her approach. Her arguments indirectly suggest that manuscripts were inferior as a medium. Eisenstein ignored the fact that fixity in manuscripts did, to an extent, exist. The overall assumption that the printing press enhanced the book as a medium also obscures the fact that manuscripts offered advantages the printed book could not. Rüdiger Schnell, for example, stresses the directness of manuscripts in contrast to printed books. The latter, according to Schnell, due to the amount of people involved in the printing process, pass through a medial filter from the initial idea to the text to the actual printing process.460 However, it cannot be ignored that Eisenstein’s work was the stimulus for a heated debate ←120 | 121→over the issue “bringing bibliography out of its ghetto into the larger world of intellectual and social history.”461

Adrian Johns’ monograph The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making (1998) uses Eisenstein’s theory as a starting point and comments on it accordingly. Apart from his claim that “printing itself stands outside history” in her work, he also suggests that it is not the printed book alone that creates aspects like fixity, but rather the people recognizing it and acting correspondingly.462 In other words, the acceptance of printed books offering fixity and standardization took centuries to develop. Whereas Eisenstein lists the value of the printed book for the development of Europe, Johns analysed it from a different perspective by asking what the people actually using the book saw as added value within the printed book.

Eisenstein commented on her Printing Press as an Agent of Change in the afterword in the second edition of her Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe (2005).463 She also indirectly responded to her critics in her monograph Divine Art, Infernal Machine (2011). By gathering contemporary comments on early printing she defended her idea of fixity and argues that contemporaries did acknowledge fixity and standardization as a quality of the new invention.464 She agrees with Paul Needham that the idea of equal positive and negative attitudes towards printing feels too artificial. Still, she labels his assessment that the printed book was immediately recognized as equal or even superior to manuscripts as “too sweeping.”465 Drawing from several contemporary comments on the new medium, she comes to the conclusion that absolute rejection hardly existed. Renaissance humanists, Protestants and the Catholic Church alike were aware of the danger of spreading harmful and incorrect texts. What is worth noting, though, is that most comments evaluate the ability of producing many copies rather than the materiality and consequent changes of format, layout and design of printed books. Further, it seems prudent to acknowledge the continuity of ←121 | 122→scribal production after the introduction of printing. Since printing obviously did not replace manuscript production all at once, it is worth asking when printing became standard and the scribal production of a text became something to be justified.

It has oftentimes been stated that printers up to the year 1500 made sure their printed books resembled manuscripts as much as possible: early typography looked like handwriting, hand-finished elements like initials as well as rubrications and miniatures were added after printing by scribes and illuminators and sometimes, printers decided to do two-colour print runs.466 This was supposed to make printed books for readers familiar with manuscripts “thrillingly new and reassuringly familiar.”467 The initial imitation of manuscript characteristics also hints at printers being aware of the obligation not to overstrain their customers with too many changes. Andrew Pettegree even surmises that printers needed to teach readers to accept books printed with just one colour after it had turned out that two- or even three-colour printing, as tried by several printers, was not viable at all.468 Until such imitations had been omitted, however, printers apparently accepted the additional costs for several decades. These resemblances of manuscript characteristics led Curt Ferdinand Bühler to label incunables “manuscripts not written by hand.”469

It is generally accepted that early typography copied the aesthetics of calligraphic handwriting.470 The choice of different type has been used to emphasize importance, languages and content. However, it also hinted at the pragmatic possibility that sometimes type material was not always chosen to signify content. Type material was, next to paper, the most expensive investment for printers. Its acquisition was dependent on chance and therefore not always easy. Nevertheless, an awareness of the importance of typography can be detected. Caxton’s early prints on the continent demonstrate this. However, rather than using typography to stress the text itself, it seems that Caxton was aware of its appeal to the potential customers and changed it according to what was fashionable ←122 | 123→in the area, as has been shown. In the long run, however, such strategies did not persist. The spread of the printed book consequently led to a curious change from manuscript culture to what could be called part of a gradual realization of the logic of print culture and its economy: some scribes, especially in the early Middle Ages, tended to go from place to place and, at least partially, adapted to accepted scribal aesthetics. Caxton seemed to imitate that peculiarity at the very beginning. He did not take his type material for the History of Troy with him to Westminster. Rather, he had ordered another type with a Flemish look that might have been more suitable for the potential clients in England that he had in mind. However, printed books and typographic material could reach far places through the established channels of trade. Consequently, readers had to adapt to the design of texts and no longer vice versa.471

There are also cases where the striving for imitation went too far: Colard Mansion’s efforts to offer as many manuscript characteristics as possible in his printed products turned out to be too costly to produce:

“[T];o do in print what was being done by hand in manuscript yielded products more and more fabulous in design but so unremunerative to produce – too costly in production, and consequently too costly to distribute – that Mansion soon failed, last heard of fleeing creditors.472

Such efforts were highly risky and prone to economic failure. It is possible that Caxton also executed or at least planned a de luxe edition of Ovide Moralisé, a very popular adaptation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses with added glosses. Caxton did translate the text, probably commissioned by an unknown patron, and completed it in April 1480. A luxurious manuscript was created by professional scribes, but a printed edition is not extant. It is doubtful that Caxton ever published it.473 The manuscript simply was more suitable for a presentation copy than a printed book.474

According to acceptance theories, manuscript characteristics in printed books could be explained with printers trying to achieve acknowledgment and, at least, tolerance for the new commodity. However, there is no valid proof that these imitations had been conscious decisions. When printing was introduced to Europe, the codex form of the book was already over 1,000 years old. Manuscript production and dissemination had been established for centuries across national ←123 | 124→and cultural borders. Therefore, it can also be true that such imitations were simply seen as characteristics of a book as such and were integrated because they were deemed as part of a book in general:

The first printed books could hardly be distinguished from the manuscripts that they replaced. However, neither is a case of conscious imitation. Rather, it is a matter of involuntarily following familiar conventions and continuing along a known road. It is inevitable that the possibilities the new medium offers are not always fully recognised at the time, even though they may look obvious in retrospect. There are always people with enough imagination and originality to sketch that kind of potential, but if their thinking connects insufficiently with what is usual at the time their ideas will not be recognised.475

Conventions in manuscripts such as ligatures, contractions and variant forms of the same grapheme were in the interest of economy because they sped up manuscript production and relieved the scribes.476 For printing, this meant casting unnecessary type material. Whereas a scribe could simply write a variant form of a grapheme, the printer would have needed various forms of the grapheme in stock. Consequently, such manuscript-specific graphemes were eventually excluded to cut down expenses and to speed up the production process. The exclusion of such features signifies the moment when the printed book became a fully-fledged medium with characteristics of its own.

Whether early printed books were designed to resemble manuscripts or not, there are examples where printers at least wanted to awe their customers with exquisite books. Contemporary sources exist that praise the Gutenberg Bible as an astounding piece of work. Piccolomini’s letter discussed at the beginning of this chapter is a convincing example. Even though it can be argued that Gutenberg did not use the best possible texts that were available, the book as a material object seemed to radiate something that impressed book users.

For a long time, the shift from folio to quarto editions (and their acceptance) has been explained with economic reasons. Wynkyn de Worde has been accused by scholars of offering cheap prints and commercializing the book trade. Such allegations are currently being contested since the format of books is only one factor of many that comprise the overall extent of a text. Other factors like layout and type size play an equally important role. Therefore, “[…] folio editions of texts need not be expensive, but may, in fact, be cheaper than quarto editions ←124 | 125→of the same text.”477 If this was the case, de Worde’s shift to the smaller format was not intended to save money. Rather, it was a reaction to the needs of his customers who seemed to prefer more portability. It was a feature of new books that pupils and students valued and consequently demanded. Moreover, a general trend towards smaller formats in England is noticeable, as David Carlson has pointed out. Even though de Worde stands out with about 73 per cent of his output in quarto format, his main competitor Richard Pynson is close behind with approximately 63 per cent. Carlson’s statistics also reveal a focus on octavo format towards the middle of the sixteenth century.478

The humanist movement was not only quick to accept and prefer the inherent features that print offered, it also had a vital impact on the printed page. Paul Oskar Kristeller describes humanism as “that broad concern with the study and imitation of classical antiquity which was characteristic of the period and found its expression in scholarship and education and many other areas, including the arts and sciences.”479 Wakelin adds that it is a “self-conscious commitment to return to the classics, or ad fontes, as did the advocates and teachers of the studia humanitatis.”480 If, then, the desire of humanists is to have access to precise scholarly versions of rediscovered texts, the features of printed books like standardization, typographical fixity and errata slips could all be considered added values for humanism that not only led to tolerance of the new medium, but to complete acceptance and preference.481 Consequently, it is worth noting that European ←125 | 126→textual production in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was heavily affected by Renaissance Humanism. The impact on English literature, however, is limited in this era.482 As has been stated, John Siberch was imported to Cambridge to encourage humanistic text production in England. The result, however, turned out to be an economic failure despite the university offering potential customers. Occasional attempts of English printers at Latin texts had similar disappointing results: “When Wynkyn de Worde printed the oration delivered to Henry VII in 1506 by Louis XII’s envoy, Claude de Seyssel, he botched the job so, according to Seyssel himself, that the text had to be handed over to Badius Ascensius in Paris to be reprinted in an acceptable form.”483 Obviously, de Worde’s printing abilities for Latin texts were of inferior quality and thus deemed unfitting for such a publication. Examples like these emphasize Trapp’s evaluation of the humanist book market in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. In contrast to textbooks for schools and universities, it was small, difficult and unprofitable.484 William Caxton printed a mere 15 humanist texts and as a result was labelled by scholars as medieval and ignorant.485 According to Carlson, the primary interest of early printers was the marketing of their commodities. Since the potential market in England was too small, it was not incentive enough to produce more humanist texts. Often, humanist books were produced on demand, mainly by scholars, and often in quarto format, which suggests usage in school due to their handier features. However, influences on the printed book were palpable in Europe. These influences affecting the layout of texts stem from the developments in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when university textbooks adopted a new style to enhance work with them. Gothic script was substituted by a more legible fount based on Carolingian models, the choice of using smaller books, the abandonment of abbreviations and the exclusion of extensive commentaries ←126 | 127→within texts were all developments which were later taken over by printed books.486 Reference elements like pagination, headlines and chapter sections made the book more efficient for scholarly use. Even though such elements were not altogether unfamiliar to the manuscript, their application was only standardized in printed books and became an added value that ultimately led to preference of the printed book.487

The impact of humanism on the printed page must not be neglected. It is noteworthy, however, that even early humanist printers needed to cater to their clients by adhering to certain conventions still cherished:

Sweynheim and Pannartz attempted to reproduce the sort of books acceptable to cultivated Italian taste. This naturally also involved the hand-finishing which Italian buyers expected – book and chapter headings written in red, hand-painted initials at major divisions of the text, vine-stem borders on the first page and so on – often carried out in the printer’s office.488

2.4. The Book Value Categories Applied

In the late fifteenth century, the book trade had already been in many respects an international business. Latin was the universal language of scholars and the clergy. Consequently, national or even linguistic borders did not define the market for books. A larger readership and potentially large circle of customers was guaranteed, which was, especially at the beginning, satisfied with established texts that had been in demand before the introduction of printing in the form of manuscripts. What seems prevalent during the early years of printing is a tension between economic and content value. Initially, the possibilities of printing did only slowly stimulate the creation of new texts. Most printers concentrated on established texts due to economic considerations. Content value was the most important asset of printers, and established texts were a less risky commodity than new texts.

However, if the manuscript elements in incunables are regarded as conscious imitations of printers, then the implementation of these manuscript characteristics implies that they were necessary for the printed books to be accepted by ←127 | 128→readers. The additional costs for rubrications, initials and illuminations were steep.489 The acceptance of the printed book was of vital importance for printers. Eventually, printers replaced decorative elements by illuminators with ornamental woodcuts, which reduced the costs, but not to a large extent.490 Hence, they hazarded the consequences of additional costs. However, printers did not disguise the fact that these books were not manuscripts. Rather, many printed books stressed the novelty of production methods in their colophons.491

Gutenberg’s decision to print a Latin bible as his first major work supports the idea that early printers wanted to win over the established book users. It was Gutenberg’s plan to impress them with his innovation. Even though it would have been economically more prudent to focus on smaller texts that were in greater demand and, accordingly, would have guaranteed a great turnover, those texts would not have had the symbolic value of a text such as the bible. Even with the unmatched importance of the bible aside, it was even more important to produce a voluminous work of high quality to awe and impress. The decision to print several copies on parchment further stresses this idea. The materiality further added manuscript characteristics to the printed book. The additional costs for the material, however, was immense. A paper copy of the B42 was sold for 20 gulden, which was about the annual salary of a master craftsman. A vellum copy was with 50 gulden more than double the cost of the paper edition.492

With the gradual omission of manuscript characteristics, the printed book established a border between itself and the manuscript and became a distinguished medium of its own in the 1530s, when presses were excessively used during the Reformation.493 It was then when printing presses gradually relied more on printing new material rather than just already established texts. The theological disputes during the Reformation created an incentive for more new printed material, albeit mainly for pamphlets and broadsheets, especially on the continent.

Early book production in the British Isles was insofar special in that it concentrated very much on national identity. No other country produced so many texts, percentage-wise, in the vernacular in this era.494 By opening a new market ←128 | 129→for the lay readership, Caxton and his successors paved the way for a fast and increasing acceptance of the printed book in England. Consequently, the early printing presses in England offer a decisive demarcation from early presses on the continent, where humanistic and clerical texts along with more mundane publications formed the basis for a sound printing business before they engaged in producing new texts. The focus on literary and historical texts in England, however, was not necessarily by choice. Competition from the continent by prolific printers was too strong to prevail. Printing expertise in England was, compared to experienced printing centres in Antwerp, Cologne or Venice, rather limited.

European presses initially relied on established texts because they had more prestige and were therefore less risky commodities. With the enormous amount of preparation before a text could finally be printed, this was the most decisive factor for the acceptance and success of the printed book. However, the example of Gutenberg’s B42 has shown that printers deemed it necessary to prove the ability of the printing press possibly to redeem the loss of aura of handwritten texts.495 Ironically, mundane texts like almanacs, catechisms, pamphlets and prayer books turned out to become the book trade’s foundation of the early printing presses.496

Manuscript properties, whether consciously applied or not, were an integral part of the early printed book and had an inherent symbolic value. In the 1530s, when printers, with occasional exceptions, finally ceased these imitations, the printed book was fully embedded in European culture. The extensive use of printing presses during the Reformation certainly helped the new technology to become almost ubiquitous. Neither manuscript imitations nor a focus on old texts were necessary. The key feature of the printing press was the possibility to create many more copies to enable a much more efficient and far-reaching dissemination of books and facilitation of communication. In other words, symbolic value was relevant for acknowledging and tolerating the innovation, but content value was the deciding factor for the complete acceptance and preferences of the printed book.

←129 | 130→

The English situation in the history of early printing was, as previously stated, decidedly different from the continent. William Caxton filled a market niche with his approach to focus on lay readership with historical and literary texts in the vernacular. While Caxton also used manuscript characteristics, especially in his first printed book on the continent with a richly decorated frontispiece as well as typography based on a respected scribe, Caxton slowly focussed on content as the primary value for his customers. While occasional use of woodcuts (albeit of rather crude quality compared to woodcuts from the continent) in his works, his success was mainly guaranteed with his publishing policy of vernacular texts for his audience. By mentioning his aristocratic patrons in his prologues, Caxton established prestige and symbolic value for his books on which he based his success. He knew that his texts were unlikely to be read on the continent and therefore produced for a domestic market rather than an international one by focussing on English.

His successor Wynkyn de Worde initially copied Caxton’s publishing policy, and in his later years turned towards devotional literature. The focus on religious publications and grammars is not surprising since they dominated the English book market in the years after 1500.497 However, lacking the same connections to the aristocratic circles, de Worde rather used his connection to Caxton, benefitting from Caxton’s prestige. It is no coincidence that de Worde initially used Caxton’s printer’s device and later designed a new one which strikingly resembled Caxton’s. When it became apparent that de Worde could not keep up with imitating Caxton’s policy due to his inability to translate French texts, he decided to use contemporary authors. The acceptance of new texts hints at the fact that the printed book was finally accepted even without the added value of prestige and trustworthiness by established texts, manuscript characteristics or aristocratic patronage. Such transitional aspects of early printed books in England became slowly less important and first steps towards a commercialized book trade became apparent.

As Hellinga points out, “selling books, printers discovered, takes as much ingenuity as printing them.”498 Early printers, in their role as publishers, adapted their policies and the material object to satisfy their clients. Technology alone did not drive that transformation. Sociocultural elements played a vital part in the shaping of the printed book as well. A small example offered by Martin ←130 | 131→Davies concisely sums up the overall development of the printing press on the book market:

Thanks to his good connections, with the Medici in particular, the Florentine scholar Angelo Poliziano had access to priceless manuscript treasures from the past; but when he wanted a text on which to enter collations, or simply to read, he would buy a printed book – convenient, legible and cheap.499

The old medium and its specific features were still cherished and admired and highly valued. In some cases, it was even preferred, as, for example, book gifts. But convenience in the sense of easier and cheaper access to content became a stronger value for the book. By the 1530s, the printed book was fully established both in England and on the continent. The advantages of much faster production were noticed and accepted, both by producer and consumer. Three centuries later, these steps came to full bloom after further technological and sociocultural developments.

←131 | 132→

152 A concise overview is offered in J. S. Edgren, “The History of the Book in China,” The Book: A Global History, eds Michael F. Suarez and H. R. Woudhuysen (Oxford, 2013), 573–592.

153 Eva-Maria Hanebutt-Benz, “Gutenbergs Erfindungen: Die technischen Aspekte des Druckens mit vielfachen Lettern auf der Buchdruckerpresse,” Gutenberg, Aventur und Kunst: Vom Geheimunternehmen zur ersten Medienrevolution, eds Eva Maria Hanebutt-Benz and Wolfgang Dobras (Mainz, 2000), 158–189, 158.

154 Lotte Hellinga, “Printing,” The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain: Vol III, 1400–1557, eds Lotte Hellinga and Joseph Burney Trapp (Cambridge, 1999), 65–108, 69.

155 Hanebutt-Benz, “Gutenbergs Erfindungen,” 163–164.

156 Andrew Pettegree, The Book in the Renaissance (New Haven, CT, 2010), 18: “The shiny surface of parchment continued to be preferred.”

157 Philip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography: The Classic Manual of Bibliography (Oxford, 1972), 57.

158 Gaskell, New Introduction to Bibliography, 59.

159 Gaskell, New Introduction to Bibliography, 59–60. Paper to write on was smoothed afterwards. For printing purposes this was superfluous since paper was damped before printing and would thus lose its smooth consistency again.

160 Hanebutt-Benz, “Gutenbergs Erfindungen,” 162. The ink used for manuscripts was water-based and thus did not stick on the type material to create satisfying print results. Further, specially made ink balls were used to apply the ink on the type material. Ian Gadd, “Introduction,” The History of the Book in the West, 1455–1700, ed. Ian Gadd (Farnham, Surrey, 2010), xi-xlii, xvi. See also Gaskell, New Introduction to Bibliography, 125–126.

161 Gaskell, New Introduction to Bibliography, 139–140.

162 Leonhard Hoffmann, “Die Gutenbergbibel: Eine Kosten- und Gewinnschätzung des ersten Bibeldrucks auf der Grundlage zeitgenössischer Quellen,” Archiv für Geschichte des Buchwesens, 39 (1993), 255–317, 294–295.

163 Christine Jakobi-Mirwald offers a good overview of manuscript production in Das mittelalterliche Buch: Funktion und Ausstattung (Stuttgart, 2004). It must be noted though that an adequate comparison for print and manuscript preparations is difficult. The acquisition of type material, for example, would also have to be taken into consideration.

164 Hellinga, “Printing,” 70.

165 Konrad Haebler, Handbuch zur Inkunabelkunde (Leipzig, 1925), 142–145. Ferdinand Geldner argues that print runs were a little higher in Inkunabelkunde: Eine Einführung in die Welt des frühesten Buchdrucks (Wiesbaden, 1978), 155–157.

166 Gaskell, New Introduction to Bibliography, 160–163.

167 Stephan Füssel, The Gutenberg Bible of 1454: With a Commentary on the Life and Work of Johannes Gutenberg, the Printing of the Bible, the Distinctive Features of the Göttingen Copy, the ‘Göttingen Model Book’ and the ‘Helmasperger Notarial Instrument,’ (Cologne, 2018), 44.

168 For a detailed analysis of Johannes Gutenberg and his work, see Albert Kapr, Johannes Gutenberg: Persönlichkeit und Leistung (Munich, 1987). For an extensive analysis on the print of the B42 based on contemporary sources, see Hoffmann, “Die Gutenbergbibel.” Hoffmann’s elaborations and methodologies are contested though.

169 Charles Knight, “The Commercial History of a Penny Magazine: Printing Presses and Machinery-Bookbinding,” Monthly Supplement of the Penny Magazine, 112 (1833), 505–512, 505.

170 Pettegree, Book in the Renaissance, 27.

171 Hanebutt-Benz, “Gutenbergs Erfindungen,” 184–188. It needs to be noted though that only few primary sources exist that shed light on specific facts on Gutenberg’s press and the production of the B42.

172 Hoffmann argues that it did not take longer than 32 months. Hoffmann, “Die Gutenbergbibel,” 264.

173 Hanebutt-Benz, “Gutenbergs Erfindungen,” 184–188.

174 Füssel, The Gutenberg Bible of 1454: Commentary, 44.

175 Lotte Hellinga, “The Gutenberg Revolutions,” A Companion to the History of the Book, eds Simon Eliot and Jonathan Rose, 2nd ed. (Chichester, 2020), 379–392, 379. The article in the first edition unfortunately mixes up the persons.

176 Hanebutt-Benz, “Gutenbergs Erfindungen,” 188.

177 Pettegree, The Book in the Renaissance, 30. Pettegree argues that despite relying on inferior translations from Greek into Latin dating from the 5th century, the B42 enormously influenced bible culture for centuries by being the major reference for new bibles.

178 Pettegree, The Book in the Renaissance, 29.

179 Klaus Grubmüller and Gerd Dicke, “Vorbemerkung,” Die Gleichzeitigkeit von Handschrift und Buchdruck, eds Gerd Dicke and Klaus Grubmüller (Wiesbaden, 2003), 3–4, 3.

180 William Kuskin, “Introduction: Following Caxton’s Trace,” Caxton’s Trace: Studies in the History of English Printing, ed. William Kuskin (Notre Dame, IN, 2006), 1–31, 3.

181 Feather, History of British Publishing, 13.

182 Febvre and Martin, Coming of the Book, 9.

183 Uwe Neddermeyer, Von der Handschrift zum gedruckten Buch, Schriftlichkeit und Leseinteresse im Mittelalter und in der frühen Neuzeit: Quantitative und qualitative Aspekte, vol. 1 (Buchwissenschaftliche Beiträge aus dem Deutschen Bucharchiv München, 61) (Wiesbaden, 1998), 309–330.

184 John Flood, “‘Volentes sibi comparare infrascriptos libros impressos…’: Printed Books as a Commercial Commodity in the Fifteenth Century,” Incunabula and Their Readers: Printing, Selling and Using Books in the Fifteenth Century, ed. Kristian Jensen (London, 2003), 139–151, 141.

185 Norman F. Blake, William Caxton and English Literary Culture (London, 1991), viii.

186 Lotte Hellinga and Joseph Burney Trapp, “Introduction,” The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain: Volume III, 1400–1557, eds Lotte Hellinga and Joseph Burney Trapp (Cambridge, 1999), 1–30, 5.

187 Rudolf Hirsch, Printing, Selling and Reading 1450–1550, 2nd ed. (Wiesbaden, 1974), 27.

188 A. S. G. Edwards and Carol M. Meale, “The Marketing of Printed Books in Late Medieval England,” The Library, 6th ser., 15 (1993), 95–125, 96.

189 Flood offers an example where “sixteen years after [a printer] had originally published the books, 574 copies still languished on the shelves of agents throughout Europe, and furthermore even when copies had been sold payment had often not been received.” Flood, “Printed Books as a Commercial Commodity,” 144–145.

190 David Scott Kastan, “Print, Literary Culture and the Book Trade,” The Cambridge History of Early Modern English Literature, eds David Loewenstein and Janel M. Mueller (Cambridge, 2004), 81–116, 81.

191 Pettegree, Book in the Renaissance, 16–17. He blames overzealous nineteenth-century librarians.

192 Lotte Hellinga, “Manuscripts in the Hands of Printers,” Manuscripts in the Fifty Years after the Invention of Printing: Some Papers Read at a Colloquium at the Warburg Institute on 12–13 March 1982, ed. Joseph Burney Trapp (London, 1983), 3–11, 9.

193 McKitterick, Print, Manuscript and the Search for Order, 16.

194 Cristina Dondi, “The European Printing Revolution,” The Book: A Global History, eds Michael F. Suarez and H. R. Woudhuysen (Oxford, 2013), 80–92, 82.

195 Margaret Lane Ford, “Importation of Printed Books into England and Scotland,” The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain: Volume III, 1400–1557, eds Lotte Hellinga and Joseph Burney Trapp (Cambridge, 1999), 179–201, 179.

196 Hellinga, “Printing,” 71.

197 Alexandra Walsham and Julia Crick, “Introduction: Script, Print and History,” The Uses of Script and Print, 1300 - 1700, eds Julia Crick and Alexandra Walsham (Cambridge, 2005), 1–28, 7–9.

198 William Kuskin, William Caxton and the English Canon: Print Production and Ideological Transformation in the late Fifteenth Century (Madison, 1997), 14.

199 Gutenberg had experimented with printing between 1440 and 1444 in Strasbourg and from 1448 on in Mainz. Hanebutt-Benz, “Gutenbergs Erfindungen,” 159. See also Kapr, Johannes Gutenberg, 150.

200 Nicolas Barker, “Books and Readers, 1475–1640,” Book Collector, 19 (1970), 439–454, 439.

201 Feather, History of British Publishing, 14.

202 Bennet, English Books and Readers, 30.

203 Bennet, English Books and Readers, 30.

204 Plomer, Wynkyn de Worde & His Contemporaries, 37.

205 Severin Corsten, “Der frühe Buchdruck und die Stadt,” Studien zum städtischen Bildungswesen des späten Mittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit: Bericht über Kolloquien der Kommission zur Erforschung der Kultur des Spätmittelalters 1978 bis 1981, eds Bernd Moeller, Hans Patze and Karl Stackmann (Göttingen, 1983), 9–32, 13.

206 Corsten, “Der frühe Buchdruck und die Stadt,” 16.

207 Corsten, “Der frühe Buchdruck und die Stadt,” 19.

208 Feather, History of British Publishing, 18.

209 Colin Clair, A History of Printing in Britain (London, 1965), 105.

210 Clayton Paul Christianson, “The Rise of London’s Book-Trade,” The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain: Vol. III, 1400–1557, eds Lotte Hellinga and Joseph Burney Trapp (Cambridge, 1999), 128–147, 129.

211 Graham Pollard, “The English Market for Printed Books,” Publishing History, 4 (1978), 7–48, 11–12.

212 Pollard, “English Market for Printed Books,” 12.

213 Christianson, “The Rise of London’s Book-Trade,” 132–133.

214 Feather, History of British Publishing, 10.

215 Joseph Burney Trapp, “Literacy, Books and Readers,” The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain: Vol. III, 1400–1557, eds Lotte Hellinga and Joseph Burney Trapp (Cambridge, 1999), 31–43, 31–32.

216 Richard Daniel Altick, The English Common Reader: A Social History of the Mass Reading Public, 1800–1900, 2nd ed. (Columbus, OH, 1998), 15–16.

217 M. T. Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record: England 1066–1307, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 1993), 12.

218 He calls humanists “successful propagandists.” Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record, 15.

219 Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record, 13.

220 “Mit der zeitlichen Ausrichtung auf die Frühdruckzeit befinden wir uns in der Phase der Entwicklung einer ausgeprägteren Laienlesefähigkeit, die die im Frühmittelalter definierte Kluft der Stände nach dem Kriterium von Weihe und Profeß zusammen mit der durch die Kenntnis des Lateinischen bestimmten Bildungskluft zwischen Klerus und Laien im Sinne von eindeutigen Gleichungen wie litteratus=clericus und illiteratus=laicus weitgehend überwunden hat.” Gabriele Müller-Oberhäuser, “Buchmarkt und Laienlektüre im englischen Frühdruck: William Caxton und die Tradierung der mittelenglischen Courtesy Books,” Laienlektüre und Buchmarkt im späten Mittelalter, eds Thomas Kock and Rita Schlusemann (Frankfurt, 1997) (Gesellschaft, Kultur und Schrift. Mediävistische Beiträge, 5), 61–107, 61.

221 Altick, English Common Reader, 15.

222 Altick, English Common Reader, 16–17.

223 Müller-Oberhäuser, “Buchmarkt und Laienlektüre im englischen Frühdruck,” 100.

224 Mary Carpenter Erler, “Devotional Literature,” The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain: Vol. III, 1400–1557, eds Lotte Hellinga and Joseph Burney Trapp (Cambridge, 1999), 495–525, 495.

225 Erler, “Devotional Literature,” 496.

226 Clair, History of Printing in Britain, 54.

227 Clair, History of Printing in Britain, 1.

228 Clair, History of Printing in Britain, 54–55.

229 Febvre and Martin, Coming of the Book, 9, 115.

230 Hellinga and Trapp, “Introduction,” 7–8.

231 Feather, History of British Publishing, 16.

232 Samuel Moore, “General Aspects of Literary Patronage in the Middle Ages,” The Library, 3rd ser., 4 (1913), 369–392, 374.

233 Joachim Bumke, “Einleitung,” Literarisches Mäzenatentum. Ausgewählte Forschungen zur Rolle des Gönners und Auftraggebers in der mittelalterlichen Literatur, ed. Joachim Bumke (Darmstadt, 1982) (Wege der Forschung, 598), 1–32, 1.

234 In his prologues, Caxton mentions financial assistance by patrons only twice. Edwards and Meale, “The Marketing of Printed Books,” 97.

235 A seminal study of paratexts is still Gérard Genette, Paratexts: Threshold of Interpretation (Cambridge, 1997), originally published as Seuils (Paris, 1987). A helpful study for paratextual elements in incunables, albeit mainly German prints, offers Bettina Wagner, “An der Wiege des Paratexts: Formen der Kommunikation zwischen Druckern, Herausgebern und Lesern im 15. Jahrhundert,” Die Pluralisierung des Paratextes in der Frühen Neuzeit: Theorie, Formen, Funktionen, eds Frieder von Ammon and Herfried Vögel (Berlin, 2008), 133–155.

236 STC 15375.

237 Henry Borrowes Lathrop, “The First English Printers and Their Patrons,” The Library, 4th ser., 3 (1922), 69–96, 89–96.

238 In England, Caxton is oftentimes erroneously seen not only as the man who brought the art of printing to England, but also as the inventor of printing itself. Norman F. Blake, “William Caxton: A Review,” William Caxton and English Literary Culture (London, 1991), 5, originally published in From Script to Book: A Symposium, eds H. Bekker-Nielsen, M. Borch and B. A. Sorensen (Odense, 1987), 107–126. Nicolas Barker also quotes the Sunday Times, which mentions that “half the population [of England] or more think that Caxton ‘invented the printing press.’” Barker, “Books and Readers,” 260.

239 Blake states that it is “more as a publisher and to a lesser extent as a bookseller that he deserves to be remembered.” William Caxton and English Literary Culture, x.

240 For impacts of publishers’ biographies on their policies in the nineteenth century, see Sandra Simon, Verleger als Leser und als Vermittler von Lesekultur: Britische Verlegerkarrieren zwischen 1800 und 1926 unter besonderer Berücksichtigung lesebiographischer Ansätze (Berlin, 2019).

241 John Goldfinch, Lotte Hellinga and Margaret Nickson, “Introduction,” Catalogue of Books Printed in the XVth Century now in the British Library (MS ‘t Goy-Houten, 2007), 1–84, 1–7.

242 Norman F. Blake, “William Caxton: The Man and His Work,” William Caxton and English Literary Culture (London, 1991), 19–36, 24, originally published in Journal of the Printing Historical Society, 11 (1976–1977), 64–80.

243 Blake, “William Caxton: A Review,” 10.

244 Although there is no proof for it, Blake believes that there is no reason to doubt that Caxton was involved in the import of such manuscripts to London. Blake, “William Caxton: A Review,” 2.

245 Goldfinch, Hellinga and Nickson, “Introduction,” 7.

246 Norman F. Blake, Caxton: England’s First Publisher (London, 1975), 171.

247 Norman F. Blake, “A New Approach to William Caxton,” William Caxton and English Literary Culture (London, 1991), 51–56, 54–55, originally published in The Book Collector, 26 (1977), 380–385.

248 Blake, “William Caxton: A Review,” 3.

249 Goldfinch, Hellinga and Nickson, “Introduction,” 7.

250 On Caxton’s stay at Cologne, see especially J. G. Birch, “William Caxton’s Stay at Cologne,” The Library. 4th ser., 4 (1924), 48–52, and Severin Corsten, “Caxton in Cologne,” Journal of the Printing Historical Society, 11 (1975/1976), 1–18.

251 Blake notes that De proprietatibus rerum is the largest work printed by Veldener and the biggest book produced in Cologne by that date. Blake, “William Caxton: A Review,” 3.

252 Hellinga, “Printing,” 67.

253 Hellinga, “Printing,” 73–74.

254 For a detailed analysis of the semiotic quality of typography, see Susanne Wehde, Typographische Kultur: Eine zeichentheoretische und kulturgeschichtliche Studie zur Typographie und ihrer Entwicklung (Tübingen, 2000).

255 Lotte Hellinga, William Caxton and Early Printing in England (London, 2010), 51.

256 Hellinga, “Printing,” 74.

257 Goldfinch, Hellinga and Nickson, “Introduction,” 8.

258 It is by now established that Caxton set up his printing press at Westminster already in late 1475 or early 1476. Lotte Hellinga, Caxton in Focus: The Beginning of Printing in England (London, 1982), 80–83.

259 Müller-Oberhäuser, “Buchmarkt und Laienlektüre im englischen Frühdruck,” 81.

260 David Richard Carlson, “A Theory of the Early English Printing Firm: Jobbing, Book Publishing, and the Problem of Productive Capacity in Caxton’s Work,” Caxton’s Trace: Studies in the History of English Printing, ed. William Kuskin (Notre Dame, IN, 2006), 35–68, 59.

261 On this indulgence, see Alfred William Pollard, “The New Caxton Indulgence,” The Library, 4th ser., 9 (1928), 86–89 and K. Povey, “The Caxton Indulgence of 1476,” The Library, 4th ser., 19 (1939), 462–464. Pollard’s essay offers a photography of the indulgence. Blake estimates that Caxton printed at least seven indulgences in Westminster. Blake, “William Caxton: A Review,” 6.

262 Carlson, “A Theory of the Early English Printing Firm,” 40.

263 “He did not choose to publish them, he simply printed them.” As a matter of fact, nearly all Latin texts Caxton produced fall into this category. Blake, “William Caxton: A Review,” 7.

264 Norman F. Blake, “The Spread of Printing in English During the Fifteenth Century,” Gutenberg-Jahrbuch, 62 (1987), 26–36, 33.

265 Barker, “Books and Readers,” 260.

266 STC 17030.

267 “Hinzu kommt sicherlich noch, daß solch kurze, preiswertere Texte, die nicht viel Kapital banden, im Erstleseunterricht in der Muttersprache ihren Platz fanden und auch auf einen entsprechenden Absatz hoffen ließen.” Müller-Oberhäuser, “Buchmarkt und Laienlektüre im englischen Frühdruck,” 80.

268 Of course, Caxton’s choice of texts was also influenced by practical reasons like availability of manuscripts via trade or acquaintances. Müller-Oberhäuser, “Buchmarkt und Laienlektüre im englischen Frühdruck,” 83.

269 This decision is where he differs a lot from his successor Wynkyn de Worde, which will be shown in chapter 2.2.3. Blake, “Spread of Printing,” 33.

270 Hellinga and Trapp, “Introduction,” 3.

271 Hellinga and Trapp, “Introduction,” 4.

272 Barker, “Books and Readers,” 263.

273 STC 5083.

274 Blake, “William Caxton: The Man and His Work,” 28.

275 Blake even argued that the second edition is inferior. Blake, “William Caxton: The Man and His Work,” 26.

276 Barbara Bordalejo, “The Text of Caxton’s Second Edition of the Canterbury Tales,” International Journal of English Studies, 5.2 (2005), 133–148. Bordalejo bases her study on Dunn’s dissertation and used latest computerized collation technology. Thomas Franklin Dunn, The Manuscript Source of Caxton’s Second Edition of the Canterbury Tales. Diss. University of California 1939.

277 Barker, “Books and Readers,” 260.

278 Barker, “Books and Readers,” 262.

279 STC 3356.7.

280 Müller-Oberhäuser, “Buchmarkt und Laienlektüre im englischen Frühdruck,” 90. On mirrors for princes in late-medieval England, see Ulrike Graßnick, Ratgeber des Königs: Fürstenspiegel und Herrscherideal im spätmittelalterlichen England (Cologne, 2004).

281 STC 4920 and 4921 respectively.

282 “It appears, however, that he was neither hanged nor beheaded, as was normal, but was drowned in a butt of malmsey wine (sweet wine imported from Greece).” Michael Hicks, “George, Duke of Clarence (1449–1478),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004) <> (accessed: 11.12.2019).

283 Blake, “William Caxton: A Review,” 12.

284 Michael Hicks, “Woodville, Anthony, second Earl Rivers (c.1440–1483),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2011) <> (accessed: 10.12.2019).

285 Hellinga, William Caxton and Early Printing in England, 68.

286 Hellinga, William Caxton and Early Printing in England, 99. Hellinga assumes that Caxton focussed on importing books.

287 Hellinga, William Caxton and Early Printing in England, 105–106.

288 Flood, “Printed Books as a Commercial Commodity in the Fifteenth Century,” 143.

289 Paul Needham, The Printer & the Pardoner: An Unrecorded Indulgence Printed by William Caxton for the Hospital of St. Mary Rounceval, Charing Cross (Washington, 1986), 15.

290 Needham, The Printer & the Pardoner, 16.

291 Clair, History of Printing in Britain, 3.

292 Blake, William Caxton and English Literary Culture, ix.

293 Müller-Oberhäuser, “Buchmarkt und Laienlektüre im englischen Frühdruck,” 105.

294 Müller-Oberhäuser, “Buchmarkt und Laienlektüre im englischen Frühdruck,” 62.

295 Blake, “William Caxton: A Review,” 18.

296 Kerling discovered that Caxton’s name appeared in the Port of London accounts after he settled in Westminster. Nelly J. M. Kerling, “Caxton and the Trade in Printed Books,” The Book Collector, 4 (London, 1955), 190–199, 197.

297 Norman F. Blake, “William Caxton: His Choice of Texts,” Anglia, 83 (1965), 289–307, 302.

298 Edwards and Meale, “The Marketing of Printed Books,” 95.

299 Clair, A History of Printing in Britain, 24.

300 Blake, “Spread of Printing,” 34.

301 Feather, History of British Publishing, 20.

302 Blake, “His Choice of Texts,” 307. Blake refers to printing rather low print runs of a selection of books which caters for a specialized market, rather than making full use of the economic possibilities of the printing press by addressing a larger market.

303 Goldfinch, Hellinga and Nickson, “Introduction,” 12.

304 Plomer emphasizes that de Worde printed more than 100 books before the turn of the century. Plomer, Wynkyn de Worde & His Contemporaries, 45–47.

305 Blake, England’s First Publisher, 171.

306 STC 803.

307 STC 17973.5, STC 17972, STC 24880.

308 Since Woerden was located in the Burgundian Netherlands, Hellinga assumes that de Worde and Caxton might have met in Caxton’s days on the continent. However, this remains speculation. Goldfinch, Hellinga and Nickson, “Introduction,” 12.

309 Plomer, Wynkyn de Worde & His Contemporaries, 60.

310 Norman F. Blake, “Wynkyn de Worde: The Later Years,” Gutenberg-Jahrbuch, 47 (1972), 128–138, 137.

311 Blake, “Later Years,” 137.

312 H. R. Tedder, “Notary, Julian (b. c.1455, d. in or after 1523),” rev. Norman F. Blake, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004) <> (accessed: 11.12.2019).

313 The modern association with Fleet Street and journalism originates from the early eighteenth century, when the first newspaper settled there. In fact, before de Worde, the printer William de Machlinia settled on Fleet Bridge as early as 1484. (H. R. Woudhuysen, “Fleet Street,” The Oxford Companion to the Book, eds Michael Felix Suarez and H. R. Woudhuysen [Oxford, 2010], 724.) Despite that, de Worde is also known as “father of Fleet Street.”

314 Feather, History of British Publishing, 24.

315 Blake, “Later Years,” 128–129.

316 For further information about Robert Copland, see Frank Charlton Francis, Robert Copland: Sixteenth-Century Printer and Translator (Glasgow, 1961).

317 Mary C. Erler, “Copland, Robert (fl. 1505–1547),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2008) <> (accessed: 11.12.2019).

318 A. S. G. Edwards, “Poet and Printer in Sixteenth Century England: Stephen Hawes and Wynkyn de Worde,” Gutenberg-Jahrbuch, 55 (1980), 82–88, 82.

319 Edwards, “Poet and Printer in Sixteenth Century England,” 83.

320 STC 22597.

321 Norman F. Blake, “Wynkyn de Worde: The Early Years,” Gutenberg-Jahrbuch, 46 (1971), 62–69, 65. It should be stressed, though, that de Worde cross-subsidized such risky prints with his religious output.

322 Clair emphasizes the amount of financial profit de Worde made with such publications. Clair, History of Printing in Britain, 29.

323 STC 25459.5.

324 Blake, “Later Years,” 136. The close cooperation with contemporary authors represents another departure from Caxton’s publishing policy.

325 Edwards and Meale, “The Marketing of Printed Books,” 117.

326 Blake, “Early Years,” 66.

327 Peter Blayney, The Stationers’ Company Before the Charter, 1403–1557 (Cambridge, 2003), 23.

328 Plomer, Wynkyn de Worde & His Contemporaries, 9.

329 For a detailed description and history of its production, see Katja Airaksinen, “The Morton Missal: The Finest Incunable Made in England,” Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, 14.2 (2009), 147–179.

330 Pamela Neville-Sington, “Pynson, Richard (c.1449–1529/30),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2008) <> (accessed: 11.12.2019). A detailed account of Pynson’s biography and work is still Stanley Howard Johnston’s dissertation “A Study of the Career and Literary Publications of Richard Pynson,” Diss. Univ. of Western Ontario, 1977. Another seminal study is Pamela Ayers Neville, “Richard Pynson, King’s Printer (1506–1529): Printing and Propaganda in Early Tudor England,” Diss. Univ. of London, 1990.

331 E. G. Duff, Century of the English Book Trade: Short Notices of all Printers, Stationers, Book-Binders, and others Connected with it From the Issue of the First Dated Book in 1457 to the Incorporation of the Company Stationers in 1557 (London, 1905), 126.

332 Neville-Sington, “Pynson, Richard” and Goldfinch, Hellinga and Nickson, “Introduction,” 17.

333 Christianson, “The Rise of London’s Book Trade,” 140.

334 Carlson, “A Theory of the Early English Printing Firm,” 54.

335 Edwards and Meale, “The Marketing of Printed Books,” 114.

336 STC 5086.

337 STC 3545.

338 STC 3547.

339 Nicholas Orme, “Barclay, Alexander (c.1484–1552),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2008) <> (accessed: 11.12.2019).

340 David Richard Carlson, “Alexander Barclay and Richard Pynson: A Tudor Printer and His Writer,” Anglia, 113 (1995), 283–302, 293.

341 Quoted in Carlson, “Alexander Barclay,” 291.

342 Neville, “Richard Pynson, King’s Printer (1506–1529),” 32.

343 Neville, “Richard Pynson, King’s Printer (1506–1529),” 34.

344 Neville, “Richard Pynson, King’s Printer (1506–1529),” 34.

345 Carlson, “A Tudor Printer and His Writer,” 296; Orme, “Barclay, Alexander.”

346 Pynson’s complaints can be seen in his edition of Thomas Littleton’s Tenures (STC 15726). Edwards and Meale, “The Marketing of Printed Books,” 123.

347 Edwards and Meale, “The Marketing of Printed Books,” 118.

348 Blake, “Early Years,” 68–69.

349 Edwards and Meale, “The Marketing of Printed Books,” 115.

350 Edwards and Meale, “The Marketing of Printed Books,” 116.

351 Blake, “Early Years,” 66.

352 Edwards and Meale, “The Marketing of Printed Books,” 101.

353 STC 10906.

354 His 1509 edition of the text was probably the first time he used the title in his books. Blake, “Later Years,” 131–132.

355 Feather, History of British Publishing, 19.

356 Edwards and Meale, “The Marketing of Printed Books,” 96.

357 Blake, “His Choice of Texts,” 307.

358 Clair, History of Printing in Britain, 105.

359 STC 16228.

360 Plomer, Wynkyn de Worde & His Contemporaries, 28–29.

361 Plomer, Wynkyn de Worde & His Contemporaries, 50.

362 STC 17020.

363 STC 19213.

364 The manuscript Pynson used for his edition is now in the Bodleian Library. See Margery M. Morgan, “Pynson’s Manuscript of Dives and Pauper,The Library, 5th ser., 8 (1953), 217–228.

365 The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München offers a high-quality scan of their Pynson copy: <> (accessed: 05.12.2019).

366 Plomer, Wynkyn de Worde & His Contemporaries, 145–149.

367 Pynson produced fewer than 50 religious works while de Worde created more than 170. Edwards and Meale, “The Marketing of Printed Books,” 117.

368 Clair, History of Printing in Britain, 51.

369 Edwards and Meale, “The Marketing of Printed Books,” 112.

370 Martha W. Driver, The Image in Print: Book Illustration in Late Medieval England and its Sources (London, 2004), 34.

371 Driver, Image in Print, 77.

372 STC 3309.

373 Driver, Image in Print, 82. For further information about the title-page in general, see Margaret M. Smith, The Title-Page: Its Early Development, 1460–1510 (London, 2000).

374 STC 14507.

375 Driver, Image in Print, 83.

376 STC 20875.5 and STC 6895 respectively.

377 Driver, Image in Print, 84.

378 Martha W. Driver, “Ideas of Order: Wynkyn de Worde and the Title Page,” Texts and Their Contexts, eds Vincent John Scattergood and Julia Boffey (Dublin, 1997), 87–149, 88.

379 Hellinga describes them as “crude but charming.” Hellinga, William Caxton and Early Printing in England, 72. Overall, Caxton’s attention to detail in woodcuts is cursory, with the exception of his illustrations in The Golden Legend. Driver, Image in Print, 33.

380 Driver, Image in Print, 8

381 Driver, Image in Print, 1.

382 Driver, Image in Print, 8.

383 Driver, “Ideas of Order,” 104–105.

384 Hellinga and Trapp, “Introduction,” 8.

385 Hellinga, William Caxton and Early Printing in England, 76.

386 STC 21443. For a detailed analysis of this print, see Albinia C. de la Mare and Lotte Hellinga, “The First Book Printed in Oxford: the Expositio Symboli of Rufinus,” Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, 7.2 (1978), 184–244.

387 A short survey offers Graham Pollard, “The University and the Book Trade in Medieval Oxford,” Beiträge zum Berufsbewusstsein des mittelalterlichen Menschen, ed. Paul Wilpert (Berlin, 1964) (Miscellanea Mediaevalia; 3), 336–344.

388 Rosemary C. E. Hayes, “Goldwell, James (d. 1499),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2011) <> (accessed: 11.12.2019). Goldwell is also known for being one of the first Englishmen to own a printed book.

389 A manuscript owned by Goldwell served as printer’s copy, Hellinga, William Caxton and Early Printing in England, 76.

390 Blake, “Spread of Printing,” 27.

391 Kristian Jensen, “Printing at Oxford in its European Context, 1478–1584.” The History of Oxford University Press: Volume 1. Beginnings to 1780, ed. Ian Gadd (Oxford, 2013), 31–48, 40.

392 Hellinga, William Caxton and Early Printing in England, 78.

393 Hellinga, William Caxton and Early Printing in England, 78.

394 Jensen, “Printing at Oxford,” 41.

395 In one of Rood’s later printed works, it is mentioned that he was “sent from the city of Cologne.” However, Sessions is aware that this sentence is ambivalent. It could also just mean that Rood was from Cologne. William Kaye Sessions, A Printer’s Dozen: The First British Printing Centres to 1557 after Westminster and London (York, 1983), 2.

396 Jensen, “Printing at Oxford,” 37.

397 Sessions, A Printer’s Dozen, 4.

398 Nicolas Barker, The Oxford University Press and the Spread of Learning, 1478–1978: An Illustrated History (Oxford, 1978), 3.

399 STC 696.

400 “It would appear that London printers in particular were better able than provincial centres such as Oxford, to withstand competition of book imports from the continent of Europe.” Sessions, A Printer’s Dozen, 5.

401 STC 17102.

402 STC 5312.

403 Printing and Publishing at Oxford: The Growth of a Learned Press, 1478–1978 (Oxford, 1978), 4.

404 STC 17958.

405 Blake, “Spread of Printing,” 28.

406 Goldfinch, Hellinga and Nickson, “Introduction,” 21.

407 Feather, History of British Publishing, 18.

408 Carlson uses this argument for religious texts, but it can also be applied for the academic institutions. Carlson, “A Theory of the Early English Printing Firm,” 54.

409 STC 15297.

410 Hellinga, William Caxton and Early Printing in England, 79.

411 This assumption might be disregarded if the Liber festivalis was actually printed by Rood in Oxford.

412 Duff, Century of English Book Trade, 144.

413 Ibid, 87.

414 Barker, The Oxford University Press, 5.

415 Jensen, “Printing at Oxford,” 42.

416 Printing and Publishing at Oxford, 7.

417 Sessions, A Printer’s Dozen, 8.

418 STC 6458.

419 Translation in Printing and Publishing at Oxford, 7.

420 Jenson, “Printing at Oxford,” 43.

421 Barker, The Oxford University Press, 5.

422 Printing and Publishing in Oxford, x.

423 Sessions, A Printer’s Dozen, 62. Croke was also in touch with Thomas Berthelet and several printers on the continent. When visiting Paris, Croke met Gilles de Gourmont “with whom he worked on the publication of the first edition of Erasmus’s Moriae encomium; the author would later complain that the edition was shoddy.” Jonathan Woolfson states that “[h];istorical opinion has been decidedly negative about Richard Croke.” Jonathan Woolfson, “Croke, Richard (1489–1558),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2008) <> (accessed: 11.12.2019).

424 STC 6044a.5.

425 E. G. Duff, The English Provincial Printers, Stationers and Bookbinders to 1557 (Cambridge, 1912), 73.

426 Duff, English Provincial Printers, 62.

427 Duff, English Provincial Printers, 75.

428 Sessions, A Printer’s Dozen, 62.

429 Duff, Century of English Book Trade, 147.

430 Sessions, A Printer’s Dozen, 67.

431 David McKitterick, A History of Cambridge University Press, Vol. 1: Printing and the Book Trade in Cambridge 1534–1698 (Cambridge, 1992), 14.

432 David McKitterick, “University Printing at Oxford and Cambridge,” The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain: Vol. IV, 1557–1695, ed. John Barnard (Cambridge, 2002), 189–205, 190.

433 The first proper university press of Oxford was established in 1585.

434 McKitterick, “University Printing at Oxford and Cambridge,” 203.

435 Hellinga, William Caxton and Early Printing in England, 90.

436 Feather, History of British Publishing, 18; Hellinga, William Caxton and Early Printing in England, 90.

437 STC 10000.5 and STC 10001 respectively. Julian Notary also refers to a schoolmaster in his edition of the Chronicles of England from 1504, STC 9998.

438 Goldfinch, Hellinga and Nickson, “Introduction,” 10–11.

439 Hellinga, William Caxton and Early Printing in England, 90.

440 Hellinga, William Caxton and Early Printing in England, 95.

441 STC 6289.

442 Hellinga, William Caxton and Early Printing in England, 91.

443 English Short Title Catalogue <> (accessed: 05.12.2019).

444 “The Press at St Albans,” Catalogue of Books Printed in the XVth Century, 301–306, 301.

445 Blake, “Spread of Printing,” 29.

446 Hellinga, William Caxton and Early Printing in England, 94.

447 STC 24190.

448 Goldfinch, Hellinga and Nickson, “Introduction,” 18.

449 STC 9995.

450 Blake notes that the St Albans edition is not a reprint of Caxton’s edition. Blake, “Spread of Printing,” 29. Hellinga even assumes that Caxton offered an annotated edition of his to the St Albans printer. Hellinga, William Caxton and Early Printing in England, 98.

451 STC 3308.

452 Blake, “Spread of Printing,” 29.

453 Blake, “Spread of Printing,” 29.

454 Later, in 1533, de Worde even reprinted the added part separately, only after he had issued a new edition of the complete set, now in quarto format, which indicates the changing demand of the book market around that time. By then, de Worde had already printed several quarto editions. George R. Keiser, “Practical Books for the Gentleman,” The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain: Vol. III, 1400–1557, eds Lotte Hellinga and Joseph Burney Trapp (Cambridge, 1999), 470–494, 470–472.

455 Blake, “Spread of Printing,” 29–30.

456 Duff, English Provincial Printers, 42.

457 Feather, History of British Publishing, 19.

458 Clayton Paul Christianson, “London’s Late Medieval Manuscript-Book Trade,” Book Production and Publishing in Britain 1375–1475, eds Jeremy Griffiths and Derek Pearsall (Cambridge, 1989), 87–108, 89.

459 Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early-Modern Europe, 2 vols (Cambridge, 1979). After the initial publication of her thesis about print culture, her work was reworked and published as The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 1983). The work is an abridged version of The Printing Press as an Agent of Change. The first edition was aimed at the general reader with the footnotes being withdrawn and illustrations added. The second edition in 2005 reintroduced the footnotes.

460 Schnell, however, ignores the fact that the scribe can also be a medial filter and may effectively influence the content of the manuscript. Rüdiger Schnell, “Handschrift und Druck: Zur funktionalen Differenzierung im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert,” Internationales Archiv für Sozialgeschichte der deutschen Literatur, 32.1 (2007), 66–111, 67–72.

461 Sabrina Alcorn Baron, Eric N. Linquist and Eleanor F. Shevlin, “Introduction,” Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies After Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, eds Sabrina Alcorn Baron, Eric N. Linquist and Eleanor F. Shevlin (Amherst, 2007), 1–12, 3.

462 Adrian Johns, The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making (Chicago, 1998), 19.

463 Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, 2005), 313–358.

464 Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, Divine Art, Infernal Machine: The Reception of Printing in the West from First Impressions to the Sense of an Ending (Philadelphia, 2011), esp. 1–33.

465 Eisenstein, Divine Art, Infernal Machine, 6.

466 James Raven, The Business of Books: Booksellers and the English Book Trade 1450–1850 (New Haven, CT, 2007), 10.

467 Pettegree, Book in the Renaissance, 33.

468 Pettegree, Book in the Renaissance, 33–34.

469 M. D. Reeve, “Manuscripts Copied from Printed Books,” Manuscripts in the Fifty Years after the Invention of Printing: Some Papers Read at a Colloquium at the Warburg Institute on 12–13 March 1982, ed. Joseph Burney Trapp (London, 1983, 12–22), 12.

470 James Mosley, “The Technologies of Print,” The Book: Global History, eds Michael Felix Suarez and H. R. Woudhuysen (Oxford, 2013), 130–153, 140.

471 Hellinga, “Printing,” 72.

472 Carlson, “A Theory of the Early English Printing Firm,” 50.

473 Hellinga, William Caxton and Early Printing in England, 72–74.

474 Carlson, “Theory of the Early English Printing Firm,” 52–53.

475 Van der Weel, Changing Our Textual Minds, 138.

476 Hellinga, “Printing,” 70. Hellinga also claims that the imitation of these conventions in printed books was aimed at making the printed text more acceptable.

477 Joseph A. Dane and Alexandra Gillespie, “The Myth of the Cheap Quarto,” Tudor Books and Readers: Materiality and the Construction of Meaning, ed. John N. King (Cambridge, 2010), 25–45, 40. The essay is a plea against the derogatory term of “cheap quarto” because it alludes to inferior textual quality and less prestige compared to folio editions. Dane and Gillespie argue that contemporaries did not depreciate quarto editions.

478 David Richard Carlson, “Formats in English Printing to 1557,” Analytical and Enumerative Bibliography, 2 (1988), 50–57, 52. To ensure reliability of these statistics, Carlson excluded broadsides and indulgences consisting only of one sheet.

479 Paul Oskar Kristeller, “Humanism,” The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy, ed. Charles B. Schmitt (Cambridge, 1988), 113–137, 113, quoted in Daniel Wakelin, Humanism, Reading, and English Literature: 1430–1530 (Oxford, 2007), 8.

480 Wakelin, Humanism, Reading, and English Literature, 8.

481 Pettegree, Book in the Renaissance, 20–21. See also Eisenstein, Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe, 65: “[P];ublishing errata sharpened attention to error within the printer’s workshop[.]”

482 Wakelin, Humanism, Reading, and English Literature, 4. Wakelin criticizes the assumption that there was hardly any influence at all and convincingly argues for a more balanced view.

483 Joseph Burney Trapp, “The Humanist Book,” The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain: Vol III, 1400–1557, eds Lotte Hellinga and Joseph Burney Trapp (Cambridge, 1999), 285–315, 289.

484 Trapp, “The Humanist Book,” 290; STC 22270.5.

485 David Richard Carlson, English Humanist Books: Writers and Patrons, Manuscript and Print, 1475–1525 (Toronto, 1993), 130–135.

486 Jean-François Gilmont, “Printing at the Dawn of the Sixteenth Century,” The Reformation and the Book, eds Jean-François Gilmont and Karin Maag (Aldershot, 1998), 10–20, 14.

487 Martin Davies, “Humanism in Script and Print in the Fifteenth Century,” The Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Humanism, ed. Jill Kraye (Cambridge, 1996), 47–62, 56.

488 Davies, “Humanism in Script and Print,” 55.

489 Although it is not clear who and how hand-finishing was executed in the early days of printing, most scholars deem it realistic that they might have been done in the printing house. See, for example, Driver, Image in Print, 6.

490 Febvre and Martin, Coming of the Book, 111.

491 Hellinga, “The Gutenberg Revolutions,” 380.

492 Pettegree, Book in the Renaissance, 29.

493 Gilmont, “Printing at the Dawn of the Sixteenth Century,” 11.

494 Hellinga, “Printing,” 68.

495 Jan-Dirk Müller, “Der Körper des Buches: Zum Medienwechsel zwischen Handschrift und Druck,” Materialität der Kommunikation, ed. Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht (Frankfurt, 1988), 203–217, 205.

496 Alexis Weedon, “The Economics of Print,” The Book: A Global History, eds Michael F. Suarez and H. R. Woudhuysen (Oxford, 2013), 154–168, 155.

497 John N. King, “Introduction,” Tudor Books and Readers: Materiality and the Construction of Meaning, ed. John N. King (Cambridge, 2010), 1–14, 6.

498 Hellinga, “Gutenberg Revolutions,” 390.

499 Davies, “Humanism in Script and Print,” 56.