A SHORT ACCOUNT OF THE LIFE AND WORK OF WYNKYN DE WORDE WITH A LEAF FROM "THE GOLDEN LEGEND" PRINTED BY HIM AT THE SIGN OF THE SUN IN FLEET STREET, LONDON, THE YEAR 1527.

(San Francisco: [Printed at the Grabhorn Press for] The Book Club of California, 1949). 345 x 240 mm. (13 1/2 x 9 1/2"). 2 p.l., 14 pp., [2] leaves.Text compiled by Robert Grabhorn. ONE OF 375 COPIES.

Original patterned paper boards backed with pinkish-brown buckram, paper label with Wynkyn de Worde's device on upper cover, paper title label on flat spine. With de Worde's device on title page and seven reproduction of his various printer's devices, and with decorative initials by San Francisco artist Zena Kavin. Printed in red and black. WITH LEAF CCXLIII FROM "THE GOLDEN LEGEND" (text from the Life of St. John Chrysostom) mounted on an archival leaf. Heller & Magee 486. Specimen leaf with light dampstain affecting half the leaf, otherwise clean and fresh. The volume with a breath of rubbing to ends of spine, text with one faint marginal smudge, but a fine copy, clean and fresh internally, in a virtually unworn binding.

A leaf from the press of England's second most famous incunabular printer is accompanied here by a finely printed appreciation of his career and a summary of the printing history of "The Golden Legend," compiled by printer Robert Grabhorn. Wynkyn de Worde (d. 1534/1535) was likely born in Alsace, and seems to have met England's proto-printer William Caxton in Cologne before joining his workshop in Bruges in 1472. He accompanied Caxton to England in 1476, and served as the principal assistant at Caxton's Westminster press, which he took over on his master's death in 1492. Wynkyn moved his press to Fleet Street in 1500 in order to expand the range of works he printed and to facilitate distribution of his books. Because of his astute business sense, Wynkyn was long dismissed as a "mere commercial printer" (as Britannica sniffs) rather than a man of letters like Caxton. DNB disputes this: "Wynkyn had vision and energy, and achieved success in his profession. . . . [A]fter Caxton's death he had sufficient vision to embark on a new publishing policy; to imitate his former master might have led to financial ruin. He was personable enough to get on with patrons from many classes and to run a heterogeneous household. No evidence of his involvement in litigation has been found. He was willing to give his helpers the credit they deserved, and he did not ignore their contribution as Caxton did. He probably knew several languages, and there is no reason to underestimate his learning and acumen. Previous assessments fail to give him due credit for his achievements." Grabhorn, who knew something of the challenges of operating a press, concludes "his history was largely one of long and industrious labor, free from any drama other than that provided by his time." Wynkyn printed several editions of that perennial Medieval bestseller "The Golden Legend," a collection of lives of the saints, using Caxton's 1483 translation. This leaf is from the ninth and final printing of the Caxton text.
(ST15816-28)

Keywords: Wynkyn de Worde