Bookselling

The first printers printed books at their own expense, and sold them themselves. It was necessary therefore that they should have large capitals. Paper and all other materials, as well as labour, were in the infancy of the art exceedingly dear for those periods; and on the other hand the purchasers of books were few, partly because the price of them was too high, and partly because, knowledge being less widely diffused, they were not so generally read as at present. For these reasons many of the principal printers, notwithstanding their learning and ingenuity, became poor 1282. In this manner my countrymen Conrade Sweynheim and Arnold Pannarz, who were the first, and for a long time the only printers at Rome, a city which on many accounts, particularly in the sixteenth century, might be called the first in Christendom, were obliged, after the number of the volumes in their warehouses amounted to 12,475, to solicit support from the pope 1283. In the course of time this profession was divided, and there arose booksellers. It appears that the printers themselves first gave up the bookselling part of the business, and retained only that of printing; at least this is said to have been the case with that well-known bookseller John Rainmann, who was born at Oehringen, and resided at Augsburg 1284. He was at first a printer and letter-founder, and from him Aldus purchased his types. Books of his printing may be found from the year 1508 to 1524; and in many he is styled the celebrated German bookseller. About the same period lived the booksellers Jos. Burglin and George Diemar. Sometimes there were rich people of all conditions, particularly eminent merchants, who caused books which they sold to be printed at their own expense. In this manner that learned man Henry Stephens was printer at Paris to Ulric Fugger at Augsburg, from whom he received a salary for printing the many manuscripts which he purchased. In some editions, from the year 1558 to 1567, he subscribes himself Henricus Stephanus, illustris viri Hulderici Fuggeri typographus. In the like manner also, in the beginning of the seventeenth century, a society of learned and rich citizens of Augsburg, at the head of whom was Marx Welser, the city-steward, printed a great number of books, which had commonly at the end these words, ad insigne pinus. Printing therefore thus gave rise to a new and important branch of trade, that of bookselling, which was established in Germany, chiefly at Frankfort on the Maine, where, particularly at the time of the fairs, there were several large bookseller's shops in that street which still retains the name of Book-street.

George Willer, whom some improperly call Viller, and others Walter, a bookseller at Augsburg, who kept a very large shop, and frequented the Frankfort fairs, first fell upon the plan of publishing every fair a catalogue of all the new books, adding the size, and publishing names. Le Mire, better known under the name of Miræus 1285 , says, that catalogues were first printed in the year 1554; but Labbe 1286 Reimann 1287 , and Heumann 1288 , who took their information from Le Mire, make the year, perhaps erroneously, to be 1564. Willer's catalogues were printed till the year 1592, by Nicol. Bassæus, printer at Frankfort. Other booksellers however must have soon published catalogues of the like kind, though that of Willer continued a long time to be the principal 1289.

In all these catalogues, which are in quarto, and not paged, the following order is observed. The Latin books occupy the first place, beginning with the Protestant theological works, perhaps because Willer was a Lutheran; then come the Catholic; and after these, books of jurisprudence, medicine, philosophy, poetry, and music. The second place is assigned to German books, which are arranged in the same manner.

In the year 1604, the general Easter Catalogue was printed with a permission from government.

After this the Leipsic booksellers began not only to reprint the Frankfort catalogues, but to enlarge them with many books which had not been brought to the fairs in that city. I have, dated 1600, a catalogue of all the books on sale in Book-street, Frankfort, and also of the books published at Leipsic, which have not been brought to Frankfort; with the permission of his highness the elector of Saxony to those new works which have appeared at Leipsic. Printed at Leipsic, by Abraham Lamberg; and to be had at his shop. On the September catalogue of the same year, it is said that it is printed from the Frankfort copy, with additions. I find an imperial privilege, for the first time, on the Frankfort September catalogue of 1616. Some imperial permissions however may be of an earlier date; for I have not seen a complete series of these catalogues.

Reimmann says that, after Willer's death, the catalogue was published by the Leipsic bookseller Henning Grosse, and by his son and grandson. The council of Frankfort caused several regulations to be issued respecting catalogues, an account of which may be seen in Orth's work on the Imperial Fairs at Frankfort 1290. After the business of bookselling was drawn from Frankfort to Leipsic, occasioned principally by the restrictions to which it was subjected at the former by the censors, no more catalogues were printed there; and the shops in Book-street were gradually converted into taverns.

In perusing these old catalogues one cannot help being astonished at the sudden and great increase of books; and when one reflects that a great many of them no longer exist, this perishableness of human labours will excite the same sensations as those which arise in the mind when one reads in a church-yard the names and titles of persons long since mouldered into dust. In the sixteenth century there were few libraries; and these, which did not contain many books, were in monasteries, and consisted principally of theological, philosophical and historical works, with a few however on jurisprudence and medicine; while those which treated of agriculture, manufactures and trade, were thought unworthy of the notice of the learned, and of being preserved in large collections. The number of these works was, nevertheless, far from being inconsiderable; and at any rate many of them would have been of great use, as they would have served to illustrate the instructive history of the arts. Catalogues which might have given occasion to inquiries after books, that may be still somewhere preserved, have suffered the fate of tombstones, which, being wasted and crumbled to pieces by the destroying hand of time, become no longer legible. A complete series of them, perhaps, is nowhere to be found.

This loss might in some measure be supplied by two works, were they not now exceedingly scarce. I mean those of Cless and Draudius, who, by the desire of some booksellers, collected together, as Georg 1291  did at a later period, all the catalogues published at the different fairs in different years. The work of Cless has the following title:—Unius sæculi ejusque virorum litteratorum monumentis tum florentissimi, tum fertilissimi, ab anno 1500 ad 1602 nundinarum autumnalium inclusive, elenchus consummatissimus—desumtus partim ex singularum nundinarum catalogis, partim ex bibliothecis. Auctore, Joanne Clessio, Wineccensi, Hannoio, philosopho ac medico 1292. By the editor's preface it appears that the first edition was published in 1592. The order is almost the same as that observed by Willer in his catalogues.

The work of Draudius, which was printed in several quarto volumes, for the first time, in 1611, and afterwards in 1625, is far larger, more complete, and more methodical. I have never seen a perfect copy of either edition; but perhaps the following information may afford some satisfaction to those who are fond of bibliography. One part, which I consider as the first, has the title of Bibliotheca Classica, sive Catalogus officinalis, in quo singuli singularum facultatum ac professionum libri, qui in quavis fere lingua extant, recensentur; usque ad annum 1624 inclusive. Auctore M. Georgio Draudio. It contains Latin works on theology, jurisprudence, medicine, history, geography and politics. The copy in the library of our university ends at page 1304, which has however a catchword that seems to indicate a deficiency. The second part is entitled Bibliotheca Classica, sive Catalogus officinalis, in quo philosophici artiumque adeo humaniorum, poetici etiam et musici libri usque ad annum 1624 continentur.

This part, containing Latin books also, begins at page 1298, and ends with page 1654, which is followed by an index of all the authors mentioned. A smaller volume of 302 pages, without an index, has for title, Bibliotheca Exotica, sive Catalogus officinalis librorum peregrinis linguis usualibus scriptorum; and a fourth part, forming 759 pages besides an index of the authors, is called, Bibliotheca Librorum Germanicorum Classica; that is, A Catalogue of all the books printed in the German language till the year 1625. By the indices, and the proper arrangement of the matter, the use of this work is much facilitated. I must however observe that the oldest catalogues had the same faults as those of the present time, and that these have been copied by Draudius. Many books are mentioned which were never printed, and many titles, names and dates, are given incorrectly; but Draudius, nevertheless, is well worth the attention of any one who may be inclined to employ his time and ingenuity on the history of literature.

[Towards the end of the seventeenth and especially during the eighteenth century, book-catalogues of every description multiplied rapidly. Their progress is copiously treated of in Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, vol. iii. pp. 608–693, to which the reader is referred. Perhaps the most remarkable bookseller's-catalogue ever printed is Mr. Henry Bohn's so-called Guinea Catalogue, which is upwards of six inches thick, and contains, in about 2000 pages, merely the details of his own stock.]

Footnotes

1282  Several of them were editors, printers, and proprietors of the books which they sold.

1283  Their lamentable petition of the year 1472 has been inserted by Fabricius in his Bibliotheca Latina. Hamburghi, 1772, 8vo, iii. p. 898. See also Pütter von Büchernachdruck, p. 29.

1284  Von Stetten, Kunst-geschichte von Augsburg, p. 43.

1285  Le Mire, a Catholic clergyman, who was born in 1598, and died in 1640, wrote a work De Scriptoribus Ecclesiasticis Sæculi xvi., which is printed in Fabricii Bibliotheca Ecclesiastica, Hamburgi 1718, fol. The passage to which I allude may be found p. 232; but perhaps 1564 has been given in Fabricius instead of 1554 by an error of the press.

1286  Labbe Bibliotheca Bibliothecarum, Lips. 1682, 12mo, p. 112.

1287  Hist. Lit. i. p. 203.

1288  Conspectus Reip. Litter, c. vi. § 2, p. 316.

1289  [The earliest known catalogue of English printed books on sale by a London bookseller, was published in 1595, by Andrew Maunsell, in folio. It was classed and consisted of two parts; the first containing Divinity, the second the Arts and Sciences ; a third, containing History and Polite Literature, was intended but never published.]

1290  Frankf. 1765, 4to, p. 500.

1291  [Bücher Lexicon; a Catalogue of books printed in Europe, to 1750; with supplements to 1758, 8 parts in 4 vols. folio. A very elaborate compilation, in which the title, place of publication, name of publisher, date, size, number of sheets, and publication price, of all the books known at the time, are given, including even those printed as early as 1462. It mentions however a great many books which never existed.]

1292  Francofurti, ex offic. Joannis Saurii, impensis Petri Kopffii, 1602, 4to. The first part contains 563 pages, and the second 292.