A Finely Bound, Particularly Beautiful Example of Early English Printing by Pynson


([London]: Richard Pynson, 1510). 344 x 230 mm. (13 1/2 x 9"). 10 p.l., L, LII-LIII, LV-CLXXXV, [1] (blank) leaves. FIRST EDITION.

Excellent early 20th century honey brown crushed morocco by Riviere & Son (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers framed by multiple gilt and black rules, raised bands, spine compartments with black and gilt rule frames, gilt titling, turn-ins with similar black and gilt ruling, all edges gilt. Verso of title page with full-page woodcut of the royal arms, printer's device (McKerrow 9b) in colophon. Front flyleaf with ink inscription of "John Baynes / Greys Inn / 1782"; title page with early owner's signature of B. Wiliford; isolated early ink marginalia. STC 14116; Beale T-283; Ames II, 530 ("very rare"). ◆Two corners with trivial rubbing, leaves pressed (and probably washed), final 14 leaves with very expert (scarcely perceptible) repairs in the upper margin (text not affected), first and last page dust soiled, occasional minor smudges or small stains, otherwise a fine copy, clean and crisp in a binding with few signs of wear.

As the first English book of precedents, this "Book of Entries" is an important legal text, but it is also considered a particularly beautiful example of early English printing. Plomer says that it and Pynson's Missal of 1500 are "the finest specimens of typographical art which had been produced" in England. "Intrationum" was a practical book for attorneys, similar to a modern legal form book, helping them properly frame their pleadings in a manner that would be acceptable to the court. Given the complexities of English common law, it was an essential reference work for a Tudor lawyer. It was compiled from the old manuscript Registers of Writs, manuals of procedural law which functioned rather like case law digests, listing the grounds on which previous cases had been filed. According to legal historian Sir John Baker, "old books of entries are the least used of all early law books; but they are replete with learning which, though difficult to extract, the legal historian ignores at his cost." This volume was owned, and no doubt studied, by John Baynes (1758-87), an attorney and political reformer whose "reputation as a special pleader" is noted by DNB. Richard Pynson (1448-1529) was born in Normandy, but was working in London by 1482. By 1496, he was set up as a printer, specializing primarily in legal texts. His experience and connections in the area, along with his excellence as a craftsman, led to his appointment as King's Printer in 1506. A clever businessman, he secured the exclusive right as the royal printer to issue all statutes and proclamations, thus becoming the true precursor of Her Majesty's Stationery Office. Pynson is considered to be the best of the printers to succeed Caxton, and here we can see why: the present book has a stately page with clean, attractive layout, elegant typeface, and thick, smooth paper on which the ink stands out sharp and clear. This is not a common book, and copies that do appear in the marketplace are typically in unappealing condition.

Price: $26,000.00