Saturday, July 22, 2017

1487 The Tudor Rose in the Book Binding of Anton Koberger's Printing of Nicolas De Lyra's Bible

Setting the Stage

I was wandering the hall of the annual Boston Antiquarian Book Fair and found volume 3 of Nicolas De Lyra's work (of a 4 volume set) printed by Anton Koberger in Latin and printed and illuminated in 1487 and in a binding that was missing its hardware (except the clasps). On closer inspection the binding had in small marginella tooled around the borders, what appeared to me to be the 'Tudor Rose'. The bookseller had not noted this in his description, and assuming he was too old and his eyesight was poor, he had overlooked this remarkable tooling or thought it not important. Perhaps it isn't, but it still remains a mystery that after purchasing it, I have been determined to try and solve.

I'm not in any of the photos and these were from the 2016 show, which I was unable to attend as I was on a business trip in Poland at the time of the show (much to my regret as I love going to this show, but I also like going to Poland too).

I have kept this book for many years, looking at it and inspecting it and trying to find out more information about to whom it might have been made for during the period (1487). It certainly was made for the English market (because of the Tudor Rose and the Stag deer and other markings) and that started a long quest which has revealed some interesting hints. But yet no clear answers. The other three volumes with similar bindings would have completed the picture. So somewhere out there in the world is an incomplete set of Tudor Rose bindings of the Latin version of Nicolas De Lyra's (1487 Latin Text) Bible, printed and perhaps bound by the Koberger binder of choice for someone in the Tudor family or a closely related and allied Royal Family.

1480's and the Tudors

There were three royal houses (with great wealth and armies of men associated with them) that fought one another during the 100 years war (off and on) and this was known as the 'War of the Roses' symbolized by the White Rose for the house of York and the Red rose for the house of Lancaster. Also in the mix was the house of Plantagenet symbolized by a Sprig of Broom.

The Tudor's dynasty started with a Welshman technically; by birthplace, but who was a male descendant of the infamous Owen Tudor who secretly married King Henry V's (Henry V was a Plantagenet) widow and sprung the dynasty, culminating in the last royal heir of Queen Elisabeth I. Henry VII claimed the throne through royal (somewhat sketchy links) as the last male Lancasterian and fought and won on the battlefield (he was the last king to take title to the English throne through battle, forget Cromwell, he was no King). Rather than trying to paraphrase the information, here is a direct excerpt from Wiki.

"By 1483, Henry's mother was actively promoting him as an alternative to Richard III, despite her being married to a Yorkist, Lord Stanley. At Rennes Cathedral on Christmas Day 1483, Henry pledged to marry the eldest daughter of Edward IV, Elizabeth of York, who was also Edward's heir since the presumed death of her brothers, the Princes in the Tower (King Edward V and his brother Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York). Henry then received the homage of his supporters.

With money and supplies borrowed from his host, Francis II, Duke of Brittany, Henry tried to land in England, but his conspiracy unravelled, resulting in the execution of his primary co-conspirator, the Duke of Buckingham. Now supported by Francis II's prime-minister, Pierre Landais, Richard III attempted to extradite Henry from Brittany, but Henry escaped to France. He was welcomed by the French, who readily supplied him with troops and equipment for a second invasion.

Henry gained the support of the Woodvilles, in-laws of the late Edward IV, and sailed with a small French and Scottish force, landing in Mill Bay, Pembrokeshire, close to his birthplace. He marched towards England accompanied by his uncle Jasper and the Earl of Oxford. Wales was traditionally a Lancastrian stronghold, and Henry owed the support he gathered to his Welsh birth and ancestry, being directly descended, through his father, from Rhys ap Gruffydd.[23] He amassed an army of around 5,000 soldiers.

Henry was aware that his best chance to seize the throne was to engage Richard quickly and defeat him immediately, as Richard had reinforcements in Nottingham and Leicester. Richard only needed to avoid being killed to keep his throne. Though outnumbered, Henry's Lancastrian forces decisively defeated Richard's Yorkist army at the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485. Several of Richard's key allies, such as the Earl of Northumberland and William and Thomas Stanley, crucially switched sides or left the battlefield. Richard III's death at Bosworth Field effectively ended the Wars of the Roses, although it was not the last battle Henry had to fight." [Direct quotation from Wiki: Henry VII].

The Roses 

The House of York

The House of Lancaster

The Tudor Rose
(all images from Wiki)

Reportedly, Henry VII had great celebrations to cement his reign that went right through the coronation of his Queen in 1487. Magnificent gifts were brought to court and presented to the kings and queens as well as all their respective 'household'. It was the household that took care of the accounts, managed the personal affairs of both king and queen, each having their own representatives.

Anton Koberger

Anton Koberger (ca 1440-1513) was born to an established Nuremberg family of bakers, and makes his first appearance in 1464 in the Nuremberg list of citizens. In 1470 he married Ursula Ingram and after her death he remarried another member of the Nuremberg patriciate, Margarete Holzschuher, in 1491. In all he fathered twenty-five children, of whom thirteen survived to adulthood. Koberger was the godfather of Albrecht Dürer, whose family lived on the same street. In the year before Dürer's birth in 1471 he ceased goldsmithing to become a printer and publisher. He quickly became the most successful publisher in Germany, absorbing his rivals over the years to become a large capitalist enterprise, with twenty-four presses in operation, printing numerous works simultaneously and employing at its height 100 workers: printers, typesetters, typefounders, illuminators, and the like. In addition, he often contracted with other printers, including Adolf Rusch of Strassbourg and Jacob Sacon of Lyon, to do additional printing work. Koberger printed over 200 titles of incunabula, including 15 different copies of the Latin Bible. His most famous work was the illustrated Nuremberg Chronicles which he published in 1493 in both German and Latin editions. It is believed he printed over 1000 copies of each at a time when most printers issued editions of only 300 copies. It is said that his only business blunder was when he turned down Martin Luther’s request to become Luther’s publisher. Constantly improving his business prospects, he sent out traveling agents and established links with booksellers all over Western Europe, including Venice, Europe's other great centre of printing, Milan, Paris, Lyon, Vienna and Budapest. At the supply end, he obtained two paper mills. His printing house survived his death only until 1526, and the family continued as goldsmiths and jewelers.

Anton Koberger (1440-1513) 'not engraved by Albrecht Durer'

The period of printing and distribution that Koberger started and mastered was later copied in England by William Caxton (1422-1491), who directly served the Tudor family with his publications. While Caxton and Koberger never worked together, Caxton repeated Koberger's successful strategy of integrating all aspects of the book publishing, printing, binding and distribution.

The Koberger Bible Volume 3 with Tudor Roses

The tooling is done on tanned pig skin leather, one of the toughest and most durable leathers (oink, oink...).

Running Stag and Tudor Rose

Over all binding (white areas are where the 'Bosses' were removed, center and corner.

The Center Emblem Surrounded by Vines and Tudor Roses

An Additional Feature that is not clear but appears to have grapes and a bunch of flowers? Could it be Plantagenet Broom Flowers?

Prologue- Opening for Volume 3

Previous ownership and period hand titling, notice on the inside seam the exposure of an older velum document...

Only a few lines are visible of the older velum document (used to bind the book).

Koberger signature and declaring the volume to be the work of Nicolas De Lyra

One of the engravings found in the book...


A floor plan---

The Book Description

De Lyra, Nicolaus. Bible in Latin. Nuremberg, 1487; Anton Koberger. 348 leaves, complete and in a contemporary binding of blind-stamped pig skin, with clasps remaining; possibly from the Koberger workshop. Emblems include the Tudor Rose and the running Stag as well as an unknown center board symbol. Worm holes are present in the first and last few leaves with occasional browning on some of the leaves. Small paper loss on several of the leaves but not affecting text. Illustrated and a fine example of a incunabula of this period. Part 3 of the 1487 bible in Latin. BMC vol. 2, 431; Unusual collation but complete: AA10-GG10, HH12; JJ10-MM10, N12; OO8; PP10-TT10, U6; XX6; YY10-ZZ10; aaa10-fff10, g8; hhh8, jjj10-mmm10, n8.

Nicholas Of Lyra (c. 1270–October 1349), or Nicolaus Lyranus, a Franciscan teacher, was among the most influential practitioners of Biblical exegesis in the Middle Ages. He was a doctor at the Sorbonne by 1309 and ten years later was appointed the head of all Franciscans in France. His major work, Postillae perpetuae in universam S. Scripturam, was the first printed commentary on the Bible. Printed in Rome in 1471, it was later available in Venice, Basel, and elsewhere. In it, each page of Biblical text was printed in the upper center of the page and embedded in a surrounding commentary Nicolas of Lyra's approach to explicating Scripture was firmly based on the literal sense, which for him is the foundation of all mystical or allegorical or anagogical expositions. He deplored the tortured and elaborated readings being given to Scripture in his time. The textual basis was so important that he urged that errors be corrected with reference to Hebrew texts, an early glimmer of techniques of textual criticism, though Nicholas urged as a good Catholic that the traditions of the Church were of equal weight to Scripture:

"I protest that I do not intend to assert or determine anything that has not been manifestly determined by Sacred Scripture or by the authority of the Church... Wherefore I submit all I have said or shall say to the correction of Holy Mother Church and of all learned men..." (Second Prologue to Postillae).

Nicholas utilized all sources available to him, fully mastered Hebrew and drew copiously from the Talmudic commentaries, the Pugio Fidei of Raymond Martini and of course the commentaries of St. Thomas Aquinas. His lucid and concise exposition, his soundly-based observations made Postillae the most-consulted manual of exegesis until the 16th century. Martin Luther depended upon it. When E.A. Gosselin compiled a listing of the printed editions of works by Nicolaus de Lyra, it ran to 27 pages (in Traditio 26 (1970), pp 399-426). He was born in the village of Vieille-Lyre, Normandy, hence his name. Like others in the 14th century, he was occupied by the possibility of the conversion of the Jews, to whom he dedicated hortatory addresses. He wrote Pulcherrimae quaestiones Iudaicam perfidam in catholicam fide improbantes, which was one of the sources Martin Luther used in his On the Jews and Their Lies.

This item along with many other rare works can be found at: 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

First Book of the Smithsonian Institute- 1848 Native American Mound Builders

First Book Printed by the Newly Formed Smithsonian Institute


I'm always amazed when I research a book that I have recently found. It sometimes is like a mystery and this is one of those rare moments when talking about a first edition, first printing from the Smithsonian Institute is a pure joy. Unfortunately, I will sell this book and hope that the buyer will treasure it as much as I do.

As a book dealer, you have to learn to let go. Sometimes letting go is very difficult because the book becomes somehow attached to your being, sometimes without your even knowing it. This is one of those books. It crept up on me. Historically, it is nearly a one of a kind compilation of provenance as I doubt that any other similar copies exist, unless more than one copy was sent to Britain's 'Royal Institution' signed on tipped in lithographic letter form by Joseph Henry, the first Smithsonian Secretary; no small man of accomplishments on his own, and his assistant, Charles Coffin Jewett, who later went on to run the Boston Public Library and help set up a National Union Catalog (NUC) later in his life. It also has the small subtle stamp of the Royal Institution as well, confirming the books' receipt in England. How it wound up in public hands is another story, but I found it, or rather this book found me.

I was browsing a book store in London, which I always try to do when I'm on business to the continent or to the UK and I always ask the annoying question of 'do you have any books related to the American Revolution?' Sometimes the subtle and very British squirming is a pleasure to watch. I usually always joke with them as well about being from Boston, 'you know, the one that got away...'

Sometimes there is laughter and a good joke or two back from my victim about Americans and Britain and 'King George the 3rd' who by the way could barely speak a lick of English, let alone American English. Let's not forget Parliament and the disastrous course of taxation without representation, appalling. No wonder George III and his cronies lost the colony!

Well 1849, the year that book was published is not that long after the burning of the Whitehouse by the British invasion forces in 1814. Why is that important, well the British government was still stoking the fires of Southern secession in the 1840's and 1850's and assisted the Southern States during the Civil War!

Public Domain,

And adding to this the continuous wars with our Native American peoples, slavery, the talk of secession in congress and in our Southern States; spurred in part by The British who would have been delighted at the thought of re-capturing a significant chunk of the Southern United States in a split with the North by the way.

I searched Wiki and found the following list of Native American Tribal wars with the US Government a compelling listing:
  • Texas-Indian Wars 1820-1875
  • Arikara War 1823
  • Winnebago War 1827
  • Black Hawk War 1832
  • Second Seminole War 1835-42
  • Second Creek War 1836
  • Osage Indian War 1837
  • Ute Wars 1849-55
  • Apache Wars 1849-1924
  • Jicarilla War 1849-55

So when Joseph Henry decided to publish a work comprising the 'Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi 1846' it was a bold statement about more than just Native Americans; because throughout the country, hostilities, discrimination and outright murder of Native American peoples and vice versa was happening and the stories were in the press regularly. If you have ever wondered about the opinions of Americans about Native Americans and African Americans, reading Mark Twain's accounts will provide you with an excellent view of the way a majority of the press and the reader's thought in 1849. The work was actually commissioned in 1846 and accepted for publication in 1847, printed in 1848 and sent to the Royal Institution in 1849.

The Book Description:

Squier, Ephraim George, and Edwin Hamilton Davis. Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley. Comprising the Results of Extensive Original Surveys and Explorations...Accepted for Publication by the Smithsonian Institution, June, 1847, [New York, Edward O. Jenkins for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington]. 1847 and dated 1848.

Large 4to. Original publisher's cloth, spine lettered in gilt, covers with blind-stamped rules; pp.xxxix (including one blank), 306, with 207 fine wood-engravings in the text, 2 plates of tinted lithographic views (one bound frontispiece) and 46 lithographic plates (mostly plans and elevations, two of skulls and several of artifacts, tools, pots etc.); cloth and gilt faded; rear hinge weakened, corners a little worn, a few preliminaries with short tears to gutters, p. 90 with small paper flaw to gutter, occasionally light spotting; and some separation of the upper spine but holding. Provenance: it was presented by the Smithsonian Institution to the Royal Institution (of Britain) with a lithographed letter form, printed on blue paper, dated Washington, January 1, 1849, the addressee's name filled in by hand, signatures of the Smithsonian's founding Secretary, Joseph Henry and his assistant secretary tipped onto the front fly-leaf, lower outer corner of the series title with Royal Institution Stamp. This book does have some flaws in its binding (separation along the spine, internal but holding slightly), toning and minor tears but it is a remarkable survivor.

Lithographed Plate

Signed Letter of Transmission to the Royal Institution of Britain

Henry and Jewett's signatures
Stamp of the Royal Institution showing receipt
Title page
Images of tools an other items
Topographical surveys of the actual mound structures

This book is a testament to the very hard work and dedication of the two researchers who approached the Institute about the project and were eagerly encouraged by President Polk and John Henry.

Smithsonian History (bear with me, you will see the full circle)

"Smithson, the illegitimate child of a wealthy Englishman, had traveled much during his life, but had never once set foot on American soil. Why, then, would he decide to give the entirety of his sizable estate—which totaled half a million dollars, or 1/66 of the United States' entire federal budget at the time—to a country that was foreign to him?

James Smithson, c. 1765-1829
Artist: Hattie Elizabeth Burdette

Some speculate it was because he was denied his father's legacy. Others argue that he was inspired by the United States' experiment with democracy. Some attribute his philanthropy to ideals inspired by such organizations as the Royal Institution, which was dedicated to using scientific knowledge to improve human conditions. Smithson never wrote about or discussed his bequest with friends or colleagues, so we are left to speculate on the ideals and motivations of a gift that has had such significant impact on the arts, humanities, and sciences in the United States.

Smithson died in 1829, and six years later, President Andrew Jackson announced the bequest to Congress. On July 1, 1836, Congress accepted the legacy bequeathed to the nation and pledged the faith of the United States to the charitable trust. In September 1838, Smithson's legacy, which amounted to more than 100,000 gold sovereigns, was delivered to the mint at Philadelphia. Recoined in U.S. currency, the gift amounted to more than $500,000.

James Knox Polk, 2 Nov 1795-15 Jun 1849
Artist: Max Westfield

After eight years of sometimes heated debate, an Act of Congress signed by President James K. Polk on Aug. 10, 1846, established the Smithsonian Institution as a trust to be administered by a Board of Regents and a Secretary of the Smithsonian. Since its founding, more than 170 years ago, the Smithsonian has become the world's largest museum, education, and research complex, with 19 museums, the National Zoo, and nine research facilities." (quotation directly from: The Smithsonian Institute- Our History, highlights and underlining by me, Richard Gabriel).

NOW, the full circle connection is made! The VERY First Administration includes the President of the United States, James K. Polk, the First Secretary Joseph Henry and signed by Joseph Henry on a tipped in lithographic printed letter and sent to the Royal Institution, that Smithson deeply admired, making this find a very rare book with an even rarer provenance!

See the listing at our Web Store:

SOLD 7-17-2017

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Books of Hours grew out of the Psalter and the Breviary and for more detailed information on collecting, grading and buying Books of Hours; there are a number of authoritative texts available to the curios reader.
  • Books of Hours Reconsidered (Studies in Medieval and Early Renaissance Art History) Hindman, Sandra Published by Brepols Publishers ISBN 10: 1905375948 / ISBN 13: 781905375943
  • The Book of Hours. A textual explanation of 15th century illuminated manuscripts Published by Barbara J. Raheb, Van Nuys, CA, 1979
  • French Books of Hours: Making an Archive of Prayer, C.1400 - 1600 Reinburg, Virginia Published by Cambridge Univ Pr, 2012 ISBN 10: 1107007216 / ISBN 13: 9781107007215
  • An Intimate Art : 12 Books of Hours for 2012 Hindman Sandra and Bergeron-Foote Ariane Published by Les Enluminures, Paris-Chicago-New York, 2012 ISBN 10: 0983854637 / ISBN 13: 9780983854630
  • Books of Hours and Their Owners Harthan, John Published by Thames & Hudson Ltd, 1977 ISBN 10: 0500232172 / ISBN 13: 9780500232170
  • Time Sanctified: The Book of Hours in Medieval Art and Life Wieck, Roger S. Published by George Braziller, 1988 ISBN 10: 0807611891 / ISBN 13: 9780807611890
  • Painted Prayers The Book of Hours in Medieval and Renaissance Art Wieck, Roger S. Published by W. W. Norton & Co Inc., 1997 ISBN 10: 0807614181 / ISBN 13: 9780807614181
Just to highlight a few books about books of hours. There are also many individual books written about books of hours as well as facsimiles of the books. A beginning collector can first purchase the texts about books of hours (some of which are somewhat hard to find and can be pricey (~$75-$250) and can be found at Advanced Book Exchange or on Biblio and once the appetite has been educated, collecting the facsimiles of famous works; while not the same as possessing an original work, can be rewarding. One thing we don't recommend is buying individual 'leaves' of Books of Hours, unless you know exactly which book they came out of and it is worth. Collecting, individual leaves is a market but unless it is a very rare leaf, while unique, offers a fraction of what a complete book of hours possesses in the way of presentation and worth. Retail pricing of books of hours can vary widely, ranging on the low side for incomplete works in the $15,000 to the upper end of $900,000 for a well-documented rare book of hours.

The books of hours were made mostly for women, but books are also made for the male of the house. Books of Hours were passed down and sometimes were divided amongst family members to keep the peace within the family. Books prior to printing could be as expensive as possessing rare gems, silver, gold and even land. The rare books made for the kings, queens, princes and princesses that have been identified and are a part of medieval history, are quite expensive and many are held by museums and rare books libraries across the world. The works usually always have facsimiles made and reproduced in limited editions so they too have become valuable.

Examples of the Structure of a Typical Book of Hours:

The Calendar

The Calendar page is filled with information and is actually a regional guide to where in Europe or in what we now call the United Kingdom the book was intended. There are usually three columns, one for the calendar. The first column is known as the ‘Golden Numbers’ or the days of the new moons or full moons throughout the year. The second column is known as the ‘Dominical Letters’ (a through g) that help a reader find the ‘Sundays’ of the month. The third column is the ancient Roman calendrical system listing the Ides (id), the middle of the month and the Kalends (kl), the first day of the month and Nones the ninth day of the month. These three fixed points were used to count backwards to all other dates.

The Red and Blue lettering are for the Saints days and were known as ‘Red Letter’ days, which were the more important dates to celebrate the Virgin Mary,  and other more important Saints. The calendar in the Books of Hours were also known as ‘perpetual calendars’ as they did not include the more important celebration holidays such as Easter or Christmas, but those dates could be calculated backwards from the perpetual dates. The listing of Saints also helps regionalize the origin of the Book of Hours, also known in the Latin form as ‘Horae’.

Hours of the Virgin

Also known as the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a set of inspirational lessons, prayers and brief phrases that refer to the ‘eight’ canonical hours of the day that date back to Roman times and were and are still chanted in monasteries. The eight are Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext None, Vespers and Compline. Matins and Laud were often sung before sunrise. Prime was often used to teach children to read, hence the word ‘Primer’ is derived from this section. The structure is usually laid out as a series of vesicles that are followed by responses: “Lord open my lips and my mouth shall tell forth thy praise” Response: “God, come to my assistance”. Everything, of course is in Latin. “Domine labia mea aperies et os maeum annunciabit laudem Deus in adjutorium meum intende”

Below is an example describing the time of day and the miniature

  Time Of Day
  the wee hours
  Annunciation– Angel Gabriel greets Mary
  Visitation– Mary visits Elizabeth
  Nativity– Birth of the Christ child
  late morning
  Annunciation– Angels appear to the shepherds
  Adoration of the Magi– Magi come to see the Christ child
  Presentation in the temple– Mary presents the Christ child
  Flight into Egypt– Mary & Joseph flee Herod as directed in a dream
  late evening
  Coronation of the Virgin– Mary crowned Queen of Heaven


The Litany:  Invocations to God, the Blessed Virgin and assorted saints, each followed by the abbreviation "or", the Latin incipt for "ora pro nobis" ("pray for us"). HRC MS 4, p. 174. Mid-15th Century. Latin and French. Leaf size 7.3 x 5.2 in. One or more litanies of the saints normally follow the Penitential Psalms. In a litany, the reader invokes, one by one, a long list of favorite saints, martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins, ending each phrase with the Latin words ora pro nobis ("pray for us"). Economy-minded scribes often abbreviated this common ending with the letters "or," as in the pictured example from HRC MS 4.

An example of a Litany page in a book of hours

Office of the Dead

During the middle ages, death, famine, early loss of life was more common than living a full rich life. Lives were in the words of a famous English scholar Thomas Hobbes: “Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. The church realizing the nature of existence and the need for solace through the divine spirit of Christ, Mary, the angels and God, created the rather lengthy section known as the Office of the Dead.

“As in the examples shown here, the illustrations frequently present the evangelists at work writing their gospel onto a scroll or codex and using the implements employed by medieval scribes. The traditional symbol, or attribute, of the evangelist often appears in the illustration, as in these examples from the Ransom Center collections.

The illustration for St. John nearly always shows the apostle seated on the Isle of Patmos—as in this example from HRC MS 5—where Christian tradition holds that he composed the Book of Revelation. The remaining illustrations normally show the relevant apostle working in a scriptorium or study.”

Penitential Psalms

“A Book of Hours often contains one or both of two well-known cycles of Psalms: the Seven Penitential Psalms and the Gradual Psalms (Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143 and Psalms 120–134, respectively, in the King James Bible).

These and other Psalms were so well known to medieval worshipers that each Psalm is often indicated only by its incipit, or opening line. The reader is expected to recite the remaining lines from memory.

When the Penitential Psalms include miniatures, they often open with a scene from the life of King David—a bad example of adulterous behavior but a comforting model of repentance and forgiveness—as in these wonderfully illuminated images from an early example of a printed Book of Hours.”

Bravery in Battle and Absolution and Gratitude from the King…

Prayers of the Virgin

This section is mostly text in many books of hours and if there is an image, it is always Mary and her Son, Jesus. “The Obsecro te ("I beseech thee") and the O intemerata ("O immaculate Virgin"), two prayers addressed to the Blessed Virgin, are present in nearly all 15th-century Books of Hours. Each of these prayers is written and recited in the first person and makes a plaintive appeal directly to the Virgin Mary for aid and intercession with her Son. The prayers are sometimes personalized, with the name of the book's original owner inserted into the text or the accompanying illustration. The Obsecro te specifically asks that death not come suddenly or unexpectedly, a plea that may have provided some comfort against the toll of plague and war that afflicted late-medieval Europe.

An image depicting the Virgin Mary at prayer, usually with her Son, symbolizes Mary's role as intercessor in these prayers and is the traditional image for this section. As shown in the example from HRC MS 6, the Virgin is sometimes pictured alone next to the Obsecro te prayer. The Prayers to the Virgin have no fixed position within a Book of Hours, but often the prayers are placed between the Gospel Lessons and Hours of the Virgin.”


This is the section where particular Saints and their trials and tribulations and exaltations overcoming the injustice that usually results in the loss of their lives for God and their beliefs. “God or the three Persons of the Trinity always begin the Suffrages, followed by the Virgin, the archangel Michael, and John the Baptist (the last two prominently positioned because of their importance as judge and intercessor, respectively, at the Last Judgment). The apostles appear next, followed by male martyrs and confessors (non-martyr saints), female saints and virgin martyrs.
Each Suffrage is composed of four elements: three ejaculations (antiphon, versicle, response) followed by a longer prayer (oratio). The first three elements constitute a string of praises. As for the prayer, its first half recounts an episode from the saint's life or touches on some important aspect of the saint's holiness; the second half of the prayer is always a petition for aid from God through the saint's intercession.”

The Gospels

A strange outcome of the church’s domination of the canonical writings is that households during the middle ages did not own a complete bible or even a partial bible. In 405 the definitive version of the bible known as the Vulgate and it reigned supreme for over 1,000 years. Anyone not a priest could NOT own a bible. Bibles prior to the printing press were hand scribed and far too expensive for anyone to own. The possession of bibles is a relatively new and the first really popular bible that was effectively marketed and distributed in Europe and England was by Anton Koberger and is known as the Koberger bible, printed in Latin and High German.

The Gospels in the books of hours were the only way that families could read them, other than attending church and having the priest include a gospel in their liturgy.  The gospels allowed the books of hours to become divine religious possessions that families could look to in their own dire hours of need for prayer and comfort when the church or a priest were not available. The gospels is really the cornerstone of the entire books of hours, linking all of the sections and making the book of hours an important family possession.

Richard Gabriel- Calix Books

What is the value of my book?
Book values are ethereal; they can fluctuate like any other piece of art. When the book market is hot for a particular author, genre of writing or a series of modern first, signed editions that have been authenticated (signatures) and there are more than one buyer bidding for the items, then prices can soar.

Scarcity also drives the market. But a book being scarce does not necessarily make it exceedingly valuable. The best way to judge the value of a book is to do your own research, at least as much as possible. The links that will be helpful and the associations that help foster the true pricing as well as the selling and buying of rare books or just books that are out of print in general are listed below:

·         The Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America was founded in 1949 to promote interest in rare and antiquarian books and book collecting, and to foster collegial relations. We strive to maintain the highest standards in the trade. All members agree to abide by the ABAA's Code of Ethics. While our members sell, buy, and appraise books and printed matter, our staff can assist you with finding a bookseller and with other trade-related matters.
·         ILAB - History of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers Amor Librorum Nos Unit. Today the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers unites 22 national associations under one roof. Some of them had already been established when the League was founded in 1947/1948. Five of them were the driving forces: the antiquarian booksellers of Great Britain, France, Denmark, Sweden and The Netherlands. 1906 was the year in which the oldest organization of its kind was established in Great Britain: the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association (ABA). The French Syndicat National de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne (SLAM) was created in 1914, followed by Den Danske Antikvarboghandlerforening (ABF) in 1920. Economic crisis and radical political changes also affected the book market; rare booksellers realized that it could be an advantage to be organized. In 1935 the Nederlandsche Vereeniging van Antiquaren (NVvA) was established in Amsterdam. A year later the Swedish rare book dealers set up the Svenska Antikvariatföreningen (SVAF), then the Swiss booksellers founded the Vereinigung der Buchantiquare und Kupferstichhändler in der Schweiz (VEBUKU) in 1939. During the Second World War the Finnish Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association (SAY) was created in 1941, led for a long time by Erik Olsoni, whereas Jørgen W. Cappelen (Cappelens Antikvariat) and others established the Norsk Antikvarbokhandlerforening (NABF) in April 1942. Outside Europe the Brazilian booksellers were the first to form a national association: Walter Geyerhahn, his brother Stefan Geyerhahn and Erich Eichner, the proprietors of the famous "Livraria Editora KOSMOS", founded the Associação Brasileira de Livreiros Antiquários (ABLA) in Rio de Janeiro in 1945. And in Belgium the Chambre Professionelle Belge de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne (CLAM) or Belgische Beroepskamer van Antiquaren (BBA) was founded in 1946. Accesses to all the regional associations are through the main web page of ILAB a great resource for buying and possibly selling your books to dealers.
·         AbeBooks is an online marketplace for books. Millions of brand new books, used books, rare books, and out-of-print books are offered for sale through the AbeBooks websites from thousands of booksellers around the world.  Readers can find bestsellers, collectors can find rare books, students can find new and used textbooks, and treasure hunters can find long-lost books. AbeBooks Inc. is a subsidiary of, Inc. AbeBooks, an online bookselling pioneer, was acquired in December 2008 and remains a stand-alone operation with headquarters in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and a European office in Dusseldorf, Germany.  Our mission is to help people find and buy any book from any bookseller and our business stretches around the world with six international sites -,,,,,, and, a worldwide marketplace for German rare books. Founded in 1995 by two couples from Victoria, went live in 1996 and immediately began to transform the world’s used book business by making hard-to-find books easy to locate and purchase.  In 2002, the New York Times described the company as “an actual Internet success story.” By 2003, the United Nations acclaimed AbeBooks as one of the world’s leading ecommerce companies at its World Summit. The unique inventory of books for sale from booksellers includes the world’s finest antiquarian books dating back to the 15th century, countless out-of-print gems, millions of signed books, millions of used copies, a vast selection of college textbooks and new books too. AbeBooks remains a company with a passion for books. Booksellers love AbeBooks for helping them to sell books to buyers around the globe – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Buyers love AbeBooks for helping them to find and purchase books from the vast online inventory. The AbeBooks blog, Reading Copy, is a valuable daily source of company and book-related news.
·         Biblio was created for the love of books, and a desire to give local bookstores global reach. We understand the feeling of discovering a literary treasure because we’ve shared in the quest. Biblio is dedicated to helping you find the book or bookseller you seek.  FOR BIBLIOPHILES. We believe a book that has been owned, read and cherished only adds to its value and enriches its history. Our customers aren’t looking for just a common product; they’re searching for a genuine experience that harkens back to the touch and smells of an old bookshop from a former time. They find this experience in Biblio’s vast book collection, which is individually cultivated by our independent sellers. Find a Bookshop | Specialist booksellers FOR LITERACY. Biblio is privileged to be part of a global community of book lovers, and we’re committed to fostering its growth. We invite you to join in our sustainability practices and to support BiblioWorks, a 501c(3) non-profit we created in 2005, to provide books to communities in need. About BiblioWorks and our Social Responsibility.

There are multiple other sites that you can go to and learn how to explore the potential value of your books and what the collection of books might be worth. Until you have found out, it is best to avoid selling books at a yard or estate sale. There are also bookdealers within your local area that can be of help. Some offer appraisal services and there are also some very good auction houses that specialize in rare books and if the works are properly described, they will take a book on consignment.

Chances are that if your relative that has left the books, papers and other ephemera, may have been known to bookdealers and other book collectors, so it would be wise to see if you can locate the purchase documentation, that helps establish the provenance or the trace of a book or a book collection.

Once you have learned a bit about how the process works, don’t panic. Learning how to catalog a book so that another bookdealer will have a description of the book and its condition will all be found on the web. There are also many books about books and about collecting, selling, auctioning and building a library. Additional information can also be found at the library associations. You can register for free and search libraries around the world for your book. This link is the one I often use when searching for some idea of how scarce a book might be.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Book Sizes and Collation

Information that book collectors should have readily at their fingertips are the sizes of books and their designation in annotation. Here might be a helpful table that can be cut and pasted or printed (a jpg file) and stored whenever anyone runs across a books description or a reference of a book that perhaps you as a book collector are thinking about buying.

It is important to remember; that when measuring a book, it is not the book jacket or the book cover that you measure or the binding but the actual page! A habit that many binders had, when asked to rebind a book, was to trim down a book for a new binding, cutting or trimming the page sizes. This reduces the size of the pages, sometimes considerably. In older books, you can look at what is called the pagination or the page count, that a printer will put at the bottom of the page that has a series of letters and numbers, usually according to the alphabet but over the centuries some unique page pagination or signatures were used to tell the printer, which page follows which previous page. Many bookbinders had workers who may have been great craftsman but could have been illiterate and also following a simple and repeatable pattern of binding pages reduced errors in the binding of a book.

Another designation was the ‘last word repeat’ this is a technique where the printer would print the last word of the sentence at the bottom of the page again and it would be the first word on the following page. Both designations; the alphabet/numerical/symbol designation and the repeat word designation describes the collation or the page counting of a book. Let’s be clear, there are two numbers to a page, verso and recto so a single page could have the number 1 and the number 2 on the opposite side of the page but in pagination it is only counted as one page.

Some further explanation is needed of why books are designated by name as folio, 4to, 8vo etc. These descriptions are how many times a single sheet of paper is folded after printing. A folio is a single sheet of paper in the case of a standard folio, which is approximately 24 by 30 inches and is printed on both sides with print equally distributed, top to bottom and side to side. The printer would set the type for one side in a folio sheet with two areas that were the text. They would then print 500 or 1,000 sheets on a single side, wait for the ink to dry, change the type, turn over the sheet and print the next two pages and this would be repeated over and over again until the book was completely printed. The unfolded sheets were then sent to the bookbinder who would fold the sheets in half, line up the paginations or the last word repeat, sew along the spine, add boards, leather etc. completing the binding of the book. The books would then be sent to the Booksellers or to the subscribers of the book, if it were sold in advance. Publishers were in the minority and in order to protect their printing, authors would often engage themselves completely in the printing, binding, subscription and distribution of their books. Once a book was printed, copies were often made within a very short period of time by other printers as there was NO COPYRIGHT protection until the end of the 19th century (Mark Twain often lamented about the unscrupulous behavior of printers and publishers, he likened them to Politicians, neither represented an honorable trade). It was a cut-throat business filled with many unscrupulous characters. In England, booksellers were considered nearly as low as actors and prostitutes in London society. The King considered them as seditious, unruly and needed to be controlled. Booksellers often became publishers and printers often became booksellers and publishers. Good bookbinders were looked upon as ‘craftsmen’. Embellishing a book not only meant creating color within the book but giving it a character when holding it and opening it. The more money you could spend on binding a book, the higher your social status within society. But back to printing.

Printing production becomes a little more complicated as we move down the size designations of a book printer and the book binder. A 4to has four folds of a single sheet of paper and the printing must be done so when the single sheet of paper is folded, all the pages are in the SAME DIRECTION after the page bottoms are ‘cut’ by the binder or in some cases, the owner or buyer of the book. A good way to understand how this works is to take a single sheet of paper and fold it so that there are four sheets and study it. Try to imagine the single sheet laid out on a single bed and the print type being laid out so that upon printing and folding, it all comes together including the reverse side of the sheet. As we move up the designations, 8vo, and 16mo and up to 64mo, the complications of printing, binding and font size all play a role in how a book looks; feels and reads. We complicate all of this by throwing in engravings, flourishes, and many other signatures at the top and bottom of pages and we can see the character of books emerging as unique works of art, printed in limited editions, lost or destroyed over time and the surviving specimens have a variety of differences that all go into the description of a book. Understanding how a book is put together, its binding and its collation are critical to understanding the value, scarcity and character of a book that you are purchasing either for resale or for your collection.

It will be hard to imagine that a digital image of a book will one day have any value to a collector. Books have always had a character, developed through the paper it was printed on, the type of ink used and the font, the pagination, the embellishments and the book binding. Equally important was the size. Some very small books have a remarkable character to them and large books such as an atlas folio or for that matter a regular folio with wide margins and a period binding are equally enchanting in much different and powerful ways; they equally compel you to marvel at their beauty and strength.

You are reading this text of Calibri font developed by Microsoft in 2003 versus my usual is New Times Roman, developed in 1931 by the Times (London).