New Acquisitions 2022

Magnencij Rabani Mauri De Laudib[us] sancte Crucis opus. erudcione versu prosaq[ue] mirificum. Edited by Jacobus Wimpheling. Phorçheim. [Pforzheim : In ædibus Thom[ae] Anshelmi., 1503.  

This is a sixteen century edition of De Laudibus Sancte Crucis (In Praise of the Holy Cross). It is the work of Hrabanus Maurus (b. 780/781, d. 856), one of the greatest teachers and scholars of the Carolingian age. Maurus became known as the preceptor Germaniae (Teacher of Germany) and was in charge of the imperial abbey school of Fulda, in central Germany, and was later archbishop of Mainz. While in Fulda he composed this poem. The elaborate work comprises a set of verses where the words both embody and celebrate the cross, drawing on an antique tradition of arranging words and phrases within figures. It is one of the earliest books printed at Pforzheim and earliest examples of figurative poetry (carmina figurata). It includes preliminary verses by Sebastian Brant, Wimpheling, Johann Reuchlin and Georg Simler and Joannes Tritemius.

ChanceryFolio 31 x 21cm. signatures: Aa6 Bb4 a-k6; A, B6 C4. [Complete] Types 3:109R, 4:180G; 40 lines of transcribed verse + headline, 40 lines of commentary + headline, red and black printing throughout, calligraphic woodcut initial (Proctor, fig. 24) M on title page, woodcut initials printed in red, and a figured prefatory poem, 28 carmina figurata, the first entirely xylographic, the remaining poems combining printed and xylographic letters with the versus intexti printed in red (except fig. xvi), enclosed by either woodcut figures (of the emperor, Christ, the Evangelists, Cherubim, etc.) printed in black or by Christian symbols and characters, most defined by metal rules in red.

This copy is bound in a quarter bound vellum spine over a 15th century printed leaf of a part of Luke from a Latin Vulgate Bible over boards with central gilt arms of Signet Library to covers, Provenance: Signet Library (gilt arms to covers); and then Alan G. Thomas. The text is divided in two books. The first, preceded by some poems praising the author of the book, consists of figures-poems typed out on the opposite page of the illustrations with following comment and explanation. The second part consists of remarks on each figure. In this copy the final 3 signatures (part II) were supplied from another copy.

Johnson, Samuel. A Dictionary of the English Language: in Which The Words are Deduced From Their Originals. Illustrated in Their Different Significations by Examples From the Best Writers, To Which Are Prefixed, A History of the Language and An English Grammar. Published by For W. Strahan for J. & P. Knapton, T. & T. Longman, C. Hitch & L. Hawes, A. Millar, and R. & J. Dodsley, London, 1755.

“Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language was first published in 1755, the dictionary took just over eight years to compile, required six helpers and listed 40,000 words. Each word was defined in detail, the definitions illustrated with quotations covering every branch of learning. It was a huge scholarly achievement, a more extensive and complex dictionary than any of its predecessors.

In all, there are over 114,000 quotations in the dictionary. Johnson was the first English lexicographer to use citations in this way, a method that greatly influenced the style of future dictionaries. He had scoured books stretching back to the 16th century, often quoting from those thought to be ‘great works’, such as poems by Milton or plays by Shakespeare. Therefore the quotations reflect his own distinct literary taste and political views. And yet, if Johnson didn’t like a quotation, or if a phrase didn’t convey the exact meaning he required, he did not hesitate to chop, twist around, or rewrite a few words – Johnson famously scribbled all over his books, underlining, highlighting, altering and correcting…

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