HIGDEN, Ranulph (d.1364). Polycronicon. Translated from Latin into English by Johann de Trevisa (1326-1412), continued for the years 1387 to 1460 by William Caxton (c.1420-1491). Westminster: Wynkyn de Worde, 13 April 1495.
4 (252 x 192mm). Collation: aa8 bb-hh6 a-y8 z6 A-V8 X6 (aa1r xylographic title with full-page woodcut, aa1v introductory verses, aa2r prologue, aa4r index, hh5v-hh6 blank, a1r books I-IV, z6v blank, A1r books 5-8, X5v colophon, X6r blank, X6v Caxton device [McKerrow 1b]). 396 (of 398, without blank hh6 and final leaf in facsimile), B1 supplied from another copy. 41 lines and headline, double column with printed shoulder notes. Type: Duff 4:95 textura (text), 123G (headlines). Full-page woodcut of St. Jerome (Hodnett 800), ornamental and lombard initials. (Expert repairs to first two leaves with slight damage to woodcut or letters made good in facsimile, short repaired tears in several leaves, only occasionally touching a few letters, a number of leaves rehinged, blank section of 3 leaves replaced, fore-edges of final quire repaired and extended.) 19th-century dark brown morocco by Clarke and Bedford, tooled in blind to an antique style, spine lettered in gilt, gilt edges (very slight scuffing at head of spine and lower extremities). Provenance: EDWARD HERBERT, 2ND EARL OF POWIS (1785-1848, bookplate, sale Sotheby's 20 March 1923).
SECOND EDITION OF THE CORNERSTONE OF EARLY ENGLISH PROSE. Higden's medieval chronicle begins with Creation and continues to 1460, with additions by the work's translator into English, John Trevisa ('the first of our great translators' -- CEHL) to 1386 and from 1386 to 1460 by the editor and printer of its first edition, William Caxton. Caxton relied heavily on other medieval chronicles for his continuation, particularly drawing on Rolewinck's Fasciculus temporum and the Brut chronicle. Caxton had already printed part of his text in his edition of the Chronicles of England (1480).
RARE, particularly in fine condition. Of the 20 copies of the work currently recorded in Britain, at least half of these are imperfect (see ISTC). This edition is printed by Wynkyn de Worde (curiously spelling his name 'The Worde' in the colophon). He worked as Caxton's foreman and took over the press in the precincts of Westminster Abbey at Caxton's death in 1491/2, continuing to use Caxton's typographical material, including his device (as here). In reprinting Caxton's 1482 edition of the Polychronicon De Worde added the title woodcut and woodcut music on fo. 101, thus printing THE FIRST ENGLISH BOOK WITH PRINTED MUSIC (Steele The Earliest English Music Printing. Oxford: 1903, no.1). By substituting his name as printer of the edition for Caxton's in the preface, De Worde also claims to have written the continuation from 1386 to 1495, even though he adds nothing to Caxton's continuation, which ends in 1460. BSB H-261; Duff 173; Goff H-268; HC 8660; STC 13439.