An Opportune Entryway: Erasmus and his Earliest Effort in Print

By Jacob Baxter | Bold new chapters can often arise out of the most awkward of circumstances. In the Houghton Library at Harvard University, one of our partners at Preserving the World’s Rarest Books, you will find a fascinating example of this: Robert Gaguin’s Compendium de origine et gestis Francorum (USTC 760882).[1] This incunabulum is […]

Woodcut illustration from catechism

Making Good Protestants: The Importance of Catechisms

By Drew Thomas | In 1528 the Protestant reformer Philipp Melanchthon, Martin Luther’s right hand man, returned from a series of parish visitations convinced that both the clergy and the laity were spiritually illiterate. In response, Luther developed a series of sermons on the fundamentals of Christian belief. These sermons became the basis for his […]

Grafting Knives from the St Andrews copy

Piracy and Plants

By Nora Epstein | The English have long been known for their love of gardening, a pastime popular since at least the sixteenth century: if not longer, to judge from the number of surviving botany books. Leonard Mascall’s A Booke of the Arte and Manner how to Plant and Graffe all Sorts of Trees…(USTC 513190) […]

USTC 139280 A Catechism or Christian Doctrine, title page

A Catechism from the English Exiles in Rouen

By Chelsea Reutcke | Within the collection at Harvard’s Houghton Library, one of our Preserving the World’s Rarest Books partners, is a small devotional book from 1583 by Laurence Vaux entitled A Catechism or Christian Doctrine, Necessary for Children and Ignorant People (STC 24627, USTC 139280). At first glance, an English language catechism for children […]