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By Christopher D. Cook,
with bookbinding descriptions by Mirjam M. Foot.
London: The Bibliographical Society, 2013. 185pp; 23 colour illustrations.
ISBN: 978 0 948170 23 9
Price £45.00 (members' price £30.00) + p&p.
Westminster Abbey is closely connected with the early history of printing in England: England's first printer, William Caxton, had his workshop within the monastery walls. Both the Abbey and the adjacent Westminster School have profited by the learning and generosity of generations of bishops, deans, canons and teachers, who donated or bequeathed them their collections of incunabula.
Eighty-five editions of books printed before 1501, including seventeen fragments, several of great rarity and importance, have been described in this volume to be published by the Bibliographical Society. They reflect the scholarly interests and collecting habits of their former owners, ranging widely in subject and originating from a variety of European presses.
The descriptions, by Christopher D. Cook, pay much attention to copy-specific features.
About half the volumes are in contemporary or near-contemporary bindings, mostly English, but several from the Continent, and these have been identified and described by Mirjam Foot.
Many of the works have early annotations and/or marginal notes, bearing witness to their ownership and the use their readers made of them, as well as providing evidence for the importation of early books -bound and unbound-into England.
A detailed bibliography, concordances with major catalogues of incunabula elsewhere, indexes of printers, publishers, donors and former owners (with short biographies), copy-specific features, binders and binding features, complete this useful and interesting volume.
Christopher D. Cook is a librarian in Washington, D.C. He was the 2007 recipient of the Bibliographical Society of America's Katharine Pantzer Fellowship in the British Book Trades.
Mirjam M. Foot is Professor emeritus at London University. She is an internationally-known authority on the history of bookbinding.
Published in June 2013.
Members of the Society receive a copy of this publication as part of their subscription and are able to buy a second copy at a special members' price.