HIGDEN, Ranulphus (d. 1364). Polycronicon. Translated by John Trevisa (1326-1412). With the continuation for 1357-1460 by William Caxton (ca. 1420-1491). Westminster: Wynkyn de Worde, 13 April 1495.
Chancery 2o (252 x 191 mm). Collation: aa8 bb-hh6 (aa1r title with woodcut, aa1v verse introduction, aa2r Caxton's preface, aa4r table of contents, hh6 blank); a-y8 z6 (a1r Trevisa's dialogue between a clerk and his lord on English translation and the relative merits of prose and verse, a2v Trevisa's letter to Thomas, Fourth Lord Berkeley, a3r Books I-IV, z6v blank); A-S8 T6 V-X8 (A1r Books V-VII, R6r Trevisa's introduction to the last book, R6v Liber ultimus by Caxton, X7v colophon, X8r device, X8v colophon). 393 leaves (of 398, lacking aa1, V3, X2, X7 and X8). 41 lines and headline. Double column. Type: Duff 4:95 textura. Printed marginalia, paragraph marks and woodcut capitals. (Lacking 5 leaves as above, supplied in facsimile, bb2 and q1 supplied from another copy, side-note of q1 cropped, X1 rehinged, gutters of X4-6 strengthened, repaired tears to a5, g4, A1 and B1, aa8 remargined and repaired causing loss of several letters, supplied in neat facsimile, worming affecting text in first 8 and last 30 leaves, some soiling and staining.) 17th or 18th-century calf over thick pasteboard, upper cover with 18th-century gold lettering "M. John Berridge to Christs Hospital" above the Hospital's gold-stamped arms (rebacked, board edges restored, endleaves renewed in the 19th century).
Provenance: John Berridge (1716-1793), Calvinist clergyman, author of numerous evangelical tracts, collections of sermons, etc. (binding, gift to) -- London, Christ's Hospital -- contemporary and 16th-century English owners (marginalia in 2 or 3 different hands) -- Viscount Mersey, Bignor Park -- (Bernard Quaritch, Ltd., collation note) -- Walter Goldwater (bookplate, sale New York, Swann Galleries, 1 December 1983, lot 182).
Second edition of Higden's world history, the cornerstone of early English historial prose. Trevisa's translation was ordered by Thomas, Earl of Berkeley (d. 1361), and first printed by Caxton at Westminster in 1482. For his edition Caxton added an alphabetical table and modernised the prose. To bring the chronicle up to date he also added a final book, compiled from various sources including Rolewinck and the Brut chronicle; most of the section from 1419 on was reprinted from his own Chronicles of England (1480). Wynkyn de Worde's second edition includes the first printed music in an English book (n5r).
At Caxton's death in 1491 or 1492 Wynkyn de Worde took over the press in the precincts of Westminster Abbey, along with Caxton's typographic material. His earliest dated books appeared in 1493. Concentrating at first on reprints of Caxton editions, he soon broadened his scope, and produced well over 100 books before the turn of the century. In 1500 he moved to Fleet Street in the City of London, where he continued printing until his death in 1534.
HC 8660; BSB-Ink. H-261; Duff 173; Pr 9696; STC 13439; Goff H-268.