In Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections

The treasure room of the Library in Bryan Hall ca. 1939
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections has a surprisingly large but generally unknown collection of early printed books. Most of the books selected for this exhibit were acquired prior to 1958. In the first 60 years of the Washington State College, a devoted group of collectors and the energetic members of the Friends of the Library amassed an impressive number of early imprints, including 55 incunables (books printed before 1501). Two donors from this period are especially important. In 1947, Colonel and Mrs. Axel H. Oxholm of Washington, D.C., gave the Libraries some 300 early imprints of classical authors. At his retirement, Carl Milton Brewester, Professor of Organic Chemistry at Washington State University between 1912-1950, left the Libraries over 5,000 early imprints in addition to donating original manuscripts and historical photographs. A tradition of giving rare books as memorial class gifts began at Washington State University with The Class of 1938, and continued until 1942. Even the Bookie, the on-campus student textbook store, used extra funds in the late 1930s to purchase rare books for the Libraries. This exhibit is therefore a celebration and an unveiling of a fraction of the early modern imprints assembled over the last century at Washington State University Libraries.

Saint Ambrose from the first page of the Legenda Aurea Sanctorum, 1488

Two incunabula published by the great printer of Nürnberg, Anton Koberger. According to S. H. Steinberg in Five Hundred Years of Printing, Koberger’s only business blunder was to turn down Martin Luther’s invitation to be his publisher. "At the height of his powers, Koberger managed one of Europe’s largest printing operations with some 24 presses and over 100 compositors (type setters), proof-readers, pressmen, illuminators and binders." Cf—25.

Biblia Sacra. 467 leaves, two columns of text with 51 lines per column. Printed on April 14, 1480 by Anton Koberger. Koberger printed his first Bible in 1477 and reissued one each year. Note the exquisitely painted, decorated initial. Early printers often left space in printed texts for their customer to hire artists to provide decorative initials such as this.

A German translation from the Latin of Jacobus de Voragine’s (ca. 1229-1298) Legenda Aurea Sanctorum or Golden Lives of the Saints. Printed on December 5, 1488 in Nürnberg by Anton Koberger. The text is illustrated throughout by skillfully executed wood blocks that have been crudely hand-colored. Albrecht Dürer may have contributed to some of the illustrations in this volume, as he did with Koberger’s Liber Chronicarum or Nürnberg Chronicle (1493).

First page of text with decorated initial from the Poetica Astronomica, 1488
Saint Augustine’s (354-430) De Civitate Dei. Printed in 1498 in Venice by Bonetus Locatellus. Open to the first page with hand-illuminated initial letter.

Jacob Locher’s (1471-1528) Panegyricus ad Maximilianum. Printed in 1497 in Strassburg by Johann Reinhard Grüninger.

Hyginus’ Poetica Astronomica. Printed in 1488 in Venice by Thomas de Blavis. The volume includes numerous astrological woodblock illustrations as may been seen below with the constellation of Hercules. Donated to the Library by President Holland.

The first edition of the Epistolae Diversorum Philosophorum. Printed in 1499 in Venice by Aldus Manutius, the great Renaissance publisher and edited by Marcus Musurus.

An illustrated detail from the Poetica Astronomica, 1488
Under Aldus’ leadership and that of his heirs, the Aldine press published many of the first printed editions of the Greek classics. His printer’s device of a dolphin wrapped around an anchor became synonymous with quality editions. This volume includes letters by, among others, Aeschines, Isocrates, and Julian Apostata.

Petrus de Natalibus’ (fl. 1370-1400) Catalogus Sanctorum et Gestorum Eorum. Printed on December 12, 1493, in Venice by Henricus de Sancto Ursion. Open to colophon with the printer’s device. A memorial gift from the class of 1939.

Travel Books

Hakluyt's manuscript signature from the front flyleaf of the Principall Navigations, 1589

The first edition of Richard Hakluyt’s (1552?-1616) Principall Navigations. Printed in 1589 in London by G. Bishop and R. Newberie, deputies to C. Barker, printer to the "Queenes Most Excellent Maiestie." Donated by Mr. and Mrs. Howard J. Burnham of Vancouver WA.

Though Hakluyt took holy orders, he devoted his time and energies to the intense study of geography and travel. Hakluyt writes that while at Oxford he read "whatever printed or written discoveries and voyages [he] found extant, either in Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portugal, French, or English languages." The results of these studies was this first edition of the Pricipal Navigations. Ten years later a much larger three-volume set was produced. In 1606, he was one of the chief promoters to the King of England for the colonization of Virginia. DNB

This copy contains Haklkuyt’s manuscript signature pasted on the front flyleaf.

The printer C. (Christopher) Barker was originally a draper who in his middle age turned his attention to printing. With the receipt of a patent as the printer to Queen Elizabeth, he became one of the most powerful and important members of the Company of Stationers, having the sole rights to print the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, the Statutes of the Realm and all Proclamations. Upon his death on November 29, 1599, he passed his position in the Royal printing house to his son Robert Barker and his deputies George Bishop and Ralph Newbery. Plomer 19-20.

Samuel Purchase’s (c. 1575-1626) Hakluytus posthumus, or, Purchas his Pilgrimes. Contayning a History of the World, in Sea Voyages, and Lande-Trauells, by Englishmen and others. Printed in London from 1624 to 1626 by Henry Fetherstone.

Bookplates from volume one of Hakluytus Posthumus, 1624
In Hakluyt’s old age, Purchase served as the great historian’s assistant and eventually inherited Hakluyt’s manuscripts, which, when gathered together, became the

Detail from the map of Virginia, volume four of Hakluytus Posthumus, 1626
basis of this work Hakluytus Posthumus (1625). Later comparisons with surviving manuscripts show that Purchase was a sloppy editor. Nevertheless, since his great work was never reprinted and preserves some record of early voyages otherwise unknown, it has become highly collectable. Volume four is opened to a fine map of Virginia. DNB

This set of books was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Howard J. Burnham of Vancouver WA and includes bookplates of Thomas Philip Earl de Grey.

Botanical illustration from The Anatomy of Plants, 1682

Botanical Books

Two copies of Nehemiah Grew’s (1641-1712) The Anatomy of Plants; with An Idea of a Philosophical History of Plants; and Several Other Lectures Read before the Royal Society. Printed in 1682 in London by W. Rawlins.

This is the first collected edition of Grew's works, some of which were previously published under different titles. Grew is credited as potentially the first observer to note the true existence of sex in plants. DNB

Title page from Livy's History, 1568


Livy’s History. Published in 1568 by Wingandus Gallus in Frankfurt with woodcuts by Jost Ammon. The volume is opened to woodcut portraying the death of Archimedes, mathematician and inventor (eureka!), during the Roman conquest of Syracuse in 212 BC. According to tradition, Archimedes was so engrossed with his work that he failed to look up when a Roman soldier entered his study; Archimedes was beheaded.

The lovely illustrations were done by the painter and printmaker Jost Ammon (1539-1591), one of the most prolific and skilled book illustrators of the 16th century. Colonel Oxholm donated this volume in 1946.

Prof. Elwood, Chair of the WSUdept. of English who was responsible for bringing the Woolf Library to WSU, standing beside Leonard and Virginia Woolf?s books, 1971.

Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy
Dr. Samuel Johnson said that the Anatomy of Melancholy was the only book that ever took him out of his bed two hours sooner than he intended to rise. Robert Burton, 1577-1640, studied at Brasenose College, Oxford, and in 1599 was elected a fellow. He remained at Oxford for the rest of his life. Anatomy was his only book and its mixture of esoteric learning and inventive speculation made it a best seller passing through many editions.

The Second edition of Robert Burton’s (1577-1640) The Anatomy of Melancholy. Printed in 1624 in Oxford by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps.

The sixth, corrected and augmented, edition of Robert Burton’s (1577-1640) The Anatomy of Melancholy. Printed in 1651 in Oxford for Henry Cripps. The colophon reads: "Printed by R. W. for Henry Cripps of Oxford, and are to be sold by Andrew Crook in Pauls Church-yard, and by Henry Cripps and Lodowick Lloyd in Popes-head Ally."

Henry Cripps, Bookseller in Oxford and London, also published both the first and second editions (1621 and 1624) of Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy. It is said that Cripps made a fortune selling this title. Plomer 56.

This famous title page engraved by C. le Bond first appeared in the third edition (1628). At the top of the page Democritus Junior (Burton's pseudonym) is represented with a portrait of the author at the foot. Along the sides are figures symbolizing the effects of Melancholy (depression) from Love, Hypochondriasis, Superstitions, and Madness. Jealousy and Solitude are in the top corners; in the lower corners are the herbs Borage and Hellebore. DNB

Virginia Woolf’s personal copy opened to the presentation inscription from Violet Dickinson to Adeline Virginia Stephen (Woolf). The eighth edition of The Anatomy of Melancholy. Printed in 1676 in Oxford for Henry Cripps.

Between 1902 and 1911, Violet Dickinson was Virginia’s close friend. Their friendship suffered some strain when, after the death of Virginia’s brother Thoby Stephen in 1906, Virginia wrote a series of letters to Violet pretending that Thoby was still alive. Violet subsequently learned of Thoby’s death from a newspaper article. Palmer 43-44.

Detail of the "breeches" passage, printed 1600

Early Bibles and Religious Works

1 and 2) Two editions (1600 and 1610) of the Bible: Translated According to the Ebrew and Greeke, and Conferred with the Best Translations in Divers Languages. Printed in London by Robert Barker.

Donated by Prof. Carl Milton Brewster. This is best known as the "Breeches Bible" for the passage in Genesis III, 7 where, upon learning of their nakedness, Adam and Eve sewed leaves together to make themselves "breeches." First published 1560, this was the earliest English Bible printed in Roman type with verse divisions. Some editions of the Bible, including this one of 1610, include the embarrassing printer’s error of "Judas" instead of "Jesus" in John VI, 67.

Note the engraved title page displaying the title within heart shaped center enclosed by block border with symbols of the twelve tribes in order of age, the twelve apostles, and an evangelist at each corner of title space. Matthew and Mark are above, separated by a dove, and Luke and John below, separated by a lamb.

The printer Robert Barker was the eldest son of Christopher Barker, the first printer to Queen Elizabeth. After numerous financial and legal difficulties with his partners, he ended his career committed as a debtor to the King’s bench Prison where he died after ten years’ imprisonment in 1645.

Title page from Dietenberger's Bible, 1582
Johannes Dietenberger’s German Bible printed by J. Quentels in 1582. Note the finely crafted embossed pig skin binding over oak boards.

John Jewel’s (1522-1571) A Defence of the Apologie of the Churche of Englande, Conteininge an Answeare to a Certaine Book Lately Set Foorth by M. Hardinge, and Entitled A Confutation of, etc. A first edition with a dedication to Queen Elizabeth; printed by Henry Vvykes in 1567 in London.
John Jewel was bishop of Salisbury; he studied at Oxford where he was so assiduous in his work that he neglected his health and became prematurely old. While fleeing from the plague, he had an attack of rheumatism that left him permanently lame in one leg. With Queen Mary's accession in 1553 and the religious controversies that ensued, Jewel attempted to stay out of trouble, but was forced within two years to flee England. Upon his return to London, Jewel became a noted defender of the Anglican Church. DNB

Title page from the Woolf's copy of Milton's Works, 1697

Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s personal copy of John Milton’s (1608-1674) prose works. The Works of Mr. John Milton. Printed in the year 1697.

Milton, author of Paradise Lost, attracted attention when he published his pamphlet on divorce. Milton argues in his work on divorce that "indisposition, unfitness, or contrariety of mind arising from a cause in nature unchangeable… is a greater reason of divorce than natural frigidity, especially if there be no children or that there be mutual consent." In a sermon before parliament, Herbert Palmer declared that Milton’s book be burned. DNB

Printers note from The Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft, 1677

Witches and Saints

Benjamin Camfield’s (1638-1693) A Theological Discourse of Angels, and their Ministries… Also an Appendix containing some Reflections upon Mr. Webster's Displaying supposed Witchcraft.

"Printed by R.E. for Hen. Brome in 1678 in London."

The first edition of John Webster’s (1610-1682) The Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft. Printed in 1677 in London.

John Webster was ordained to the priesthood in 1632 but devoted his energies to the study of chemistry and medicine, serving as a surgeon to the military.

A first edition donated by Prof. Paul Brians of Richard Baxter’s (1615-1691) The Saints Everlasting Rest. Printed by Rob. White, for Thomas Underhil and Francis Tyton in 1650 in London.

Richard Baxter was a prolific author of devotional literature whose Saints Ever Lasting Rest is still in print.

Botanical illustration from The Anatomy of Plants, 1682


Rembert Dodoens’ (1517-1585) Herbarius oft Cruydt-boeck. Printed by F. Ravelingen in 1608 in Leyden.

John Gerard’s (1545-1612) The Herball: or, Generall Historie of Plantes. Gathered by John Gerarde ... Very Much Enlarged and Amended by Thomas Johnson ... Printed in 1633 in London by Adam Islip, Joice Norton and Richard Whitakers.

This work is virtually a translation of Rembert Dodoens' Stirpium Historiae Pemptades Sex (first published in 1583) made by a member of the London College of Physicians, Robert Priest, who died before it was printed. The manuscript came into the hands of Gerard, who issued the work as his own. Nevertheless, W. H. Hudson described Gerard’s style as being "never overworn… for ever fresh and full of variety and agreeable surprises." Hunt p. 175.

Adam Islip active in London between (1591-1639) sold his first printing house in 1606 and immediately started another. By 1615, he operated two presses. Upon his death in 1639, Richard Hearne inherited all of his presses, letters and other implements. Plomer 149.

A gift from Professor Carl Milton Brewster in memory of Mr. and Mrs. M. F. Brewster Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

Illustration from Anatomia del Cavallo, 1707

Veterinary Medicine

Gervase Markham’s (1568?-1637) Markhams Maister-peece : Containing all Knowledge Belonging to the Smith, Farrier, or Forse-leech, Touching the Curing of all Diseases in Horses ... Printed in 1656 in London by W. Wilson.

J. F. Smithcors, in his Five Centuries of Veterinary Medicine a Short-Title Catalog of the Washington State University Veterinary History Collection, provides the following quote "…no work ...has done more damage to veterinary progress." Smithcors p. 70.

Gervase Markham’s (1568?-1637) Markhams Maister-peece, or, What Doth a Horse-man Lacke : Containing all Possible Knowledge Whatsoeuer which Doth Belong to any Smith, Farrier or Horse-leech, Touching the Curing of all Maner of Diseases or Sorrances in Horses ... Printed in 1610 by N. Okes, London.

"A retrograde compilation with many filthy and brutal remedies, the scarce first edition." J. F. Smithcors p. 69.

Carlo Ruini (d. 1598) Anatomia del Cavallo. Printed in 1707 by Lorenzo Basegio, Venice.

This is a later edition of the first scientific equine anatomy first published at Bologna in 1598. Smithcors p. 90.

Andrew Snape (b. 1644) The Anatomy of an Horse. Printed by M. Flesher for the author in 1683, London. This was the first English work on equine anatomy "with plates based on Ruini but reversed, and appendix on circulation and generation based on Harvey." Smithcors p. 99.

J. F. Smithcors donated to MASC all of the books in this case as part of a massive collection on the History of Veterinary Medicine.