Ghent, Den wech na Romen - title page

Travelling to holy places in the early modern period

By Sandra Toffolo | From the first pilgrimages to Jerusalem in the fourth century, people wrote books about these sacred journeys. Even over the course of the early modern period, when pilgrimages ceased to be a mass phenomenon, these travel accounts still continued to be written. Hundreds have been handed down to us from the […]

Practica, 1568, 6905901

Like Father, Like Son: Identifying Prognosticators

By Nina Lamal | In 1568 the Erfurt printer Georg I Baumann published Practica auff das M.D.LXIX. Jhar by Reinhold Erasmus (USTC 6905901, pictured above). Erasmus (1511-1551) was a mathematics professor at the University of Wittenberg known for his Prutenic Tables, which was a compilation of astronomical tables based on Copernicus’ work. It was first […]

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 […]

St. Bridget of Sweden, woodcut

Beware of Ghosts!: Avoiding Ghost Editions of the Revelations of St. Bridget

By Nora Epstein | In the final months of the fifteenth century, the Nuremberg printer Anton Koberger completed the first of two editions of his Revelationes Sancte Birgitte under the patronage of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. The resulting Latin and German editions were profusely illustrated and loosely based on a 1492 Revelationes printed in […]

The English Mercurie - title

The English Mercurie of 1588: the first (hoax) newspaper

By Arthur der Weduwen | In 1794, the Scottish antiquarian and political writer George Chalmers made a startling find. He had found proof that the first newspaper had been printed in London in 1588, decades before the emergence of newspapers elsewhere in Europe. It had been a chance discovery. Chalmers was composing a history of […]

Prognostication title page from Trent Civic Library

Identifying the mysterious printer of Italian Prognostications

By Matteo Fadini | In the Trent Civic Library collection there are 80 unique sixteenth-century books.  Today’s post focuses on one of them: a pronostico ­– a pamphlet containing astrological predictions. The book, by Tommasino Girardelli, was Pronostico dell’anno M.D.LXVII. di Tomasino Giradelli da Trento, sopra le quattro stagioni dell’anno, con il raccolto del presente, & […]

University Recruitment Ordinance

Recruiting Early Modern Students in the Dutch Republic

By Andrew Pettegree and Forrest Strickland |   The publishers of the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic produced some spectacular books, but the bread and butter of the trade, the work that kept the presses turning, were commissions from institutional customers: the state, city authorities and, increasingly, the universities. By the middle of the century the Dutch […]

Royal arms of France from title page

Regulating the Silk Trade in Early Modern Lyon

By Jamie Cumby | This week’s item is a pamphlet describing the first set of ordinances to regulate the manufacture of luxury textiles in Lyon.  In addition to being a great example of early modern trade protectionism, Lyon’s silk industry was one of the city’s biggest employers.  This royal act, printed by the Lyon master-printer […]

First English Bibliography, detail

The First English Bibliography

By Graeme Kemp | Towards the end of the sixteenth century, Andrew Maunsell completed a novel project: the publication of a national bibliography of all English printed books. In a triple dedication, he humbly offered Elizabeth I his work as a remembrance of the advance in literature and print under her stewardship. Next, he commended […]

De illustrium foeminarum title page

A treatise on famous female rulers

By Sandra Toffolo While descriptions of illustrious men were a well-known literary topos throughout Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the early modern period, the following book treats a different theme: illustrious women. The book in question is entitled De illustrium foeminarum in republica administranda, ac ferendis legibus authoritate libellus (‘Book about the right of illustrious […]