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Title: Rerum Memorabilium sive Deperditarum
Author: Guido Pancirolli
Publisher: Sumptibus Haeredum Joannis Godefridi Schönwetteri Bibliopol. Francofursens
Printer: -
Illustrator: Heinrich Salmuth (Henricum Salmuth)
Engraver: Sebastian Furck
Location: Francofursens
Year: 1660
Links: [Scan 1], [Scan 2], [Dutch Short title catalogue].


This book was published in 1629 with a different frontispice.

Bigmore and Wyman (1880, page 112-113) state: ‘Conrad Zeltner, a learned printer of the seventeenth century in his “Theatrum Virorum eruditorum.” printed at Nuremberg in 1720, asserted that in the early days of typography it was customary to employ a reader, or anagnostes, to dictate to the compositors, who therefore did not require to see the copy. This statement has been received with considerable incredulity by bibliographers, although it seems quite feasible, and is strengthened by two facts. First of all, Zeltner says that in his case he preferred the method of dictation, but had to abandon it owing to the ignorance of the compositors of his time. It is obvious that educated compositors might be able to produce tolerably “clean matter” under such a system; but if they lacked a sufficient knowledge of orthography and grammar the deficiency would inevitably be exposed when their work was “proved”. In the second place, it is evident that variations in spelling and punctuation are very apt to arise when such a system is practised. Now in the different copies of certain editions of books printed about this time there are variations which can only be accounted for on the hypothesis that more than one set of forms was composed for those editions, and composed on a system under which the compositor had his copy given him, so to speak, by ear, and not by eye: it was not put before him in writing or in print, but was dictated.
The controversy on this point continued until M. Madden, in the Fifth Series of “Lettres d’un Bibliographe” (Paris, 1878), q.v., announced that he had discovered “a graphic proof” of the existence of the anagnostes. This new evidence consisted in a plate found in one of the editions of Panciroli’s work mentioned above, representing the interior of a Frankfort printing-office in the year 1660, as indicated by the Roman numerals at the head. M. Madden points out that in the background are two compositors at work without copy or copyholder [visorium], and explains this by the presence in the right hand top corner of a figure holding a manuscript, which, M. Madden assumes, he is reading aloud to the compositors. In the review of M. Madden’s work, in the Printing Times and Lithographer (vol iv, page 22), it was, however, suggested that this block, without such confirmatory evidence as is supplied by Zeltner’s book, would prove but little.
“It is quite possible that the omission to represent the visorium was the fault of an artist who was not sufficiently careful in matters of detail, like the artist who drew the first block for ‘Badius Ascensius’, and the many who, from that day to this, have depicted all the boxes in a case as being of the same size. The anachronisms in pictures, even of our own day, giving an ‘artistic’ conception of Caxton’s printing-office, are quite notorious.” It would seem, then, that although the existence of the practice of dictation appears to be reasonable, and very probable, the doubts that have been entertained respecting it are not entirely removed even by the discovery of this “graphic proof”, which, through the courtesy of M. Madden, we are enabled to reproduce. The original - or, at least, a copy of it - may be seen in a Frankfort edition of Panciroli, to be found in the British museum. Mr. J.H. Hessels devoted some attention to the subject in preparing his essay on Gutenberg, and also doubts whether the engraving proves the existence of a reader, at least in the sense Madden attaches to it.’




Roche, Nigel (2000) The iconography of the printing office to 1700. Unpublished MA thesis. Library and Information Studies, University College London. (Illustration #GG1).

EC Bigmore, CWH Wyman (1880-1886) A bibliography of printing. Volume 2. Cambridge University press. Page 112-113.