A 250-year-old work from Trinity’s Printing House

Two items printed 250 years ago in Trinity’s Printing House are currently on display in the Long Room of the Old Library. Building of the Printing House began in 1734, two years after the completion of the Old Library, and the first book was printed at the University Press in 1738. Continue reading

Leaves for St Patrick’s Day from the ‘Garden of the Soul’

Pilgrims crossing to Station Island on Lough Derg, by W. F. Wakeman. From ‘St. Patrick’s Purgatory, Lough Derg’ by Rev. D. Canon O’Connor. Dublin, 1895. Shelfmark: 29.f.30

At our incunabula workshop last November we examined a striking two-leaf account in German of St Patrick’s Purgatory (shelfmark: Press B.6.3). As a follow-up to the workshop, and with St Patrick’s Day in mind, we have taken a closer look at this intriguing fragment which relates to what has remained one of the most well-known pilgrimages in Ireland, the pilgrimage to Lough Derg in Donegal.1 Continue reading

A leaf from the world’s most famous book

This month marks the 550th anniversary of the death of Johannes Gutenberg (1397?-1468), blacksmith, goldsmith, inventor and printer. To celebrate this, we have digitised our fragment from the Gutenberg Bible.

Leaf printed on vellum in black ink with manuscript rubrication in red

Recto of folio 317

The 42-line Bible in Latin was Europe’s first substantial book printed in ink on a printing press using moveable type, a technique of printing which Gutenberg invented. The ambitious work was completed by Gutenberg and his associates in Mainz, Germany, in around 1455. It is widely cited that about 180 copies were printed, comprising around a quarter on vellum with the rest of the edition on paper. Only 48 reasonably intact copies now survive (12 on vellum and 36 on paper) in addition to a number of fragments.1 Continue reading

Fifteenth-century delights with Dr Falk Eisermann

Dr Eisermann showing an incunabulum to participants at the workshop

Incunabula workshop led by Dr Falk Eisermann

On Tuesday 12th December 2017 the Department of Early Printed Books & Special Collections had the pleasure of facilitating an afternoon workshop on incunabula led by Dr Falk Eisermann.

Dr Eisermann is head of the Incunabula Division at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin and is considered a world-leading expert in the field. The workshop was arranged by Dr Immo Warntjes, Ussher Assistant Professor in Early Medieval Irish History, and was attended by Trinity postgraduate students and staff.

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Miniature books and microchips

Miniature books, which typically measure less than 3 inches (76mm) in height, have been around since the written word was developed: first with cuneiform clay tablets, then hand-written manuscripts. The introduction of the printing press and moveable type printing in Europe, in middle of the 15th century by Johannes Gutenberg, set the stage for the first early printed books known as incunabula. Surviving editions of miniature incunabules are very rare treasures with only a dozen still in existence today. The new printing process made the production of miniature volumes a challenge to all involved – not just the printers themselves, but also the paper makers and book binders. Readers were also confronted with issues in the reading and handling of these tiny tomes as the size of type and pages kept getting smaller. So why print them? Continue reading

Revelling in Rackham

Arthur Rackham, the fourth of twelve children, was born in Lewisham on 19th September 1867. His father wanted him to have a career in business and he began as an insurance clerk, but attended Lambeth School of Art in the evenings, having won prizes for drawing at school. In 1892, after having illustrations published in the The Pall Mall Budget over the course of the previous year, he took a job there, moving to the new Westminster Budget the following year. After just a few years he was able to become a self-supporting book illustrator, also contributing to The Westminster Gazette and magazines such as Little Folks and Cassell’s Magazine, a career which continued until his death from cancer on 6th September 1939.

This self-portrait is the frontispiece to Derek Hudson’s biography of Rackham, published in 1960.

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Daphnis & Chloe

One of my favourite aspects of work in the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections is the opportunity to hold and examine so many wonderful and diverse books. When I was returning a book to the Quin Case a few days ago, I picked one out to look at because of its beautifully decorated spine – many of the books bequeathed to the College library by the wealthy graduate Henry Quin (1760-1805) have fine bindings. The boards, endpapers, fore-edge and text turned out to be equally attractive. The book in question was Quin 43, a 1786 printing of the story of Daphnis and Chloe, bound by Christian Samuel Kalthoeber of London. A German by birth, Kalthoeber emigrated to England where he became apprentice to his compatriot Johann Ernst Baumgarten, taking over his business in 1782. Continue reading

Spring into the Fagel Collection

By Regina Whelan Richardson

Spring is here and time for a close-up of some of the spring flowers blossoming in the Fagel Collection – the former library of the Fagel family of the Netherlands, which is now part of the Research Collections in Trinity College Library.
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Teaching with Special Collections

As the Early Printed Books reading room opens at 10am daily, and department staff are here earlier than that, the hour between 9 and 10 can be used for class teaching, and we welcome this opportunity to share our collections with a wide range of undergraduates and postgraduates. A member of EPB staff will give an introduction to the reading room and our reference collection if required, then the group tutor is free to teach using original materials which students might not otherwise see.

If you are a lecturer and would like to use these resources, please contact the department on ext.1172 or at epbooks@tcd.ie to arrange a suitable date.

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Animals in the Library

By Dr Jane Carroll

Once upon a time, someone nearly bought a stuffed tiger for the Early Printed Books Reading Room [when we were preparing a Long Room exhibition about India – Ed.]. Sadly, the tiger was never bought but, nevertheless, EPB is full of animals if you know where to look for them.

Last week, I brought a group of sophister students from the School of English to EPB to look at animal books, mainly from the Pollard Collection.

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