Page:Essays in librarianship and bibliography.djvu/222

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202
ESSAYS IN LIBRARIANSHIP

Other interesting questions respecting the early printers remain which we should much like to have answered. Did they try to keep their art and mystery secret? Were they their own type-founders? Were their types cast near the scene of their labours, or transported from great distances? How did they set about obtaining the favour of the great men who patronised them? Was their discovery universally welcomed by the learned? or did some consider that books were low, and manuscripts alone worthy the attention of a self-respecting collector? Were they stunned by the objurgations of angry copyists? or endangered by any supposed connection with the black art? Were they in general their own editors and proof-correctors? and what were their relations with the scholars who aided them with annotations, or wrote dedications for their books? At a considerably later period we obtain most satisfactory insight into the economy of a great printing establishment from the memoirs of the house of Plantin, at Antwerp. For these early times, except for such information as may be derived from the accidental discovery of contracts and similar documents, we must depend upon hints gleaned from the books themselves, which are usually found in their colophons.

Neither my time nor yours would admit of my entering into the matter very deeply at present, but I have selected a few instances, entirely from books printed at Rome and Venice, which may serve to indicate what illumination colophons may