Page 15, 7th August 1936

7th August 1936
Page 15
Page 15, 7th August 1936 — EARLY ENGLISH PRINTING Treasure Trove in Book Padding

Report an error

Noticed an error on this page?
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it.


Locations: Manchester, London, Rome, Paris, Oxford


Related articles

Farewell To Brian Brindley

Page 14 from 10th August 2001

A Newman Omnibus

Page 3 from 15th February 1957

Decline Of Mysticism

Page 2 from 17th January 1958

An Elizabethan Scholar-printer John Fowler's Centenary

Page 17 from 25th March 1937

Early Printing In India On Show

Page 8 from 22nd December 1978

EARLY ENGLISH PRINTING Treasure Trove in Book Padding

By NEWHALL DAVIS During the recent renovation of a few of the oldest volumes in the libraries of certain Oxford colleges, some extremely early, and interesting specimens of Early English printing were found. When those books were bound it was the custom to pad the backs and sides with what was at that time regarded as waste paper, principally cuttings and, at times, even whole sheets of earlier printed matter.

The first " find " was made by stripping a book belonging to Queen's College library. Tucked away in the rotting vellum binding was a printed Indulgence granted by Pope Alexander VI, and dated February 2nd, 1499.

Experts have satisfied themselves that this Indulgence was printed by Richard Pynson, who began to print books in London in 1493. Later, he became the King's Printer.

At about the same time that the Queen's College volume yielded its treasure, a Missal, dated 1512, was being renovated at Balliol, and, here again, hidden in the old binding, was found an almost complete copy of another Indulgence, issued by Pope Julius II, for the purpose of raising the ransom money for some Christians held prisoners by the Turks. In Oriel College Library, on the binding of a book printed in Paris in 1519, there has been found the lower half of an Indulgence in English granted by Pope Leo X in favour of the Hospital and Confraternity of the Holy Ghost at Rome, and also bearing the imprint of Richard Pynson.

Immediately prior to these discoveries, an important find was made at the Record Office, London. A piece of brown vellum found there, almost rotting and full of holes, proved to be the earliest piece of printing in England to which a date can be assigned. It was an Indulgence, issued by John Sant, Abbot of the Benedictine Monastery at Abingdon, to Henry Langley and his wife on December 13th, 1476.

Until this discovery, the earliest date connected with any known English piece of printing by Caxton was his English translation of extracts from Latin and Greek authors in the wonderful John Rylands Library in Manchester. The finding of the Indulgence proves that printing began in England not in 1477, but in 1476, within ten weeks after Caxton had come home from the Low Countries.

The Indulgence found at the Record Office is a broadside printed in Latin, and not a book, so that the controversy as to which was the first book printed in England in the English language is not affected one way or the other.


The Catholic Social Guild Year Book for 1936 will be ready for distribution and sale shortly.

The book should help to take us all forward in practical study of the Encyclical we only wish that it had been possible earlier than this year, to provide for the need which it will meet.

Old Amplefordians

The Old Amplefordians cricket week beginning on August 16, includes a full programme. On Sunday and Monday, they will meet the Royal Tank Corps; on Tuesday, Lymington; Wednesday, Blandford; Thursday, Poole Park; Friday, Downton;

and Saturday, South Wilts. The headquarters of the club will be at the Hotel Metropole, Bournemouth.

blog comments powered by Disqus