Page:Essays in librarianship and bibliography.djvu/224

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204
ESSAYS IN LIBRARIANSHIP

electric light company might advertise "Gas entirely superseded." He celebrates his type as more legible than manuscript:

"Namque vir ingenio mirandus et arte Joannes
   Exscribi docuit clarius ære libros."

Now the word docuit (taught] is not really appropriate to one who merely exercised an art he had learned from others. The question might be raised whether the reference is not to the inventor of printing, Joannes Gutenberg, and whether in this book of 1469 we have not the earliest testimony to his invention of printing. If so, this is indeed a precious colophon; but I suppose it must be admitted to be more likely that Spira was thinking of himself, or that his poet was not over-discriminating in his praise of his employer. The point, however, is worth considering. Spira's brother, Vindelinus, enunciates the excellent maxim that the renown of a printer is rather to be estimated by the beauty than by the number of his productions:

"Nee vero tantum quia multa volumina, quantum
   Qui perpulchra simul optimaque exhibeat."

Nothing, indeed, is more characteristic of the early printers than the stress they laid upon accuracy. From another colophon we learn that an edition of Sallust at that early period consisted of five hundred copies. In another the same printer declares that he will deign to sell nothing that is not perfectly correct. In another