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The Fifteenth-Century Book

The Fifteenth-Century Book
The Scribes, the Printers, the Decorators

Curt F. Bühler

200 pages | 5 1/2 x 9 | 15 illus.
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512800975 | Buy from De Gruyter $79.95 | €69.95 | £70.50
This book is available under special arrangement from our European publishing partner De Gruyter.
An Anniversary Collection volume

The fifteenth century, one of the most curious and confused periods in recorded history, witnessed amazing developments in the printing industry and in the production of books. The present volume surveys the history of the manufacture of books throughout the fifteenth century, whether written by hand or produced by the press, and points out that both methods faced very similar problems and found almost identical solutions for them.

Actually, the fifteenth century itself saw no material difference between manuscripts and incunabula (fifteenth-century printings), and regarded the latter simply as codices produced by "a new method of artificial writing." Curt F. Bühler discusses the impact of the epoch-making invention on the scribes as well as the attitudes that the contemporary book-lovers adopted toward the products of the press.

The author also studies the types of men who were attracted to the new industry and the nature of the books that they believed to be readily vendible. In addition, certain familiar beliefs regarding the history of the early presses are challenged, and possible solutions are presented for the problems are still imperfectly understood.

To illustrate the text, beautiful reproductions of illuminated manuscript pages, printed pages, colophons, woodcut illustration, and early typefaces have been included. The author's discussion of the decoration in books is not so much a study in the fine arts but, rather, an analysis of the types of volumes which lent themselves to decoration, and the various forms of such work.

Curt F. Bühler was Keeper of Printed Books at the Pierpont Morgan Library. He is the author of William Caxton and His Critics and Fifteenth Century Books and the Twentieth Century.

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