PROPRYTEES & MEDICYNES OF HORS. Westminster: Wynkyn de Worde, [c. 1497].
Chancery 4° (200 x 135mm). COLLATION: a-c6 (a1r title: Proprytees & medicynes of hors, woodcut, a1v blank, a2r-3r contents, a3r chapter I of Properties: The best hors of all countrees, incipit: There is no courser unto Poyle, a6v The prologe of the medycyns, in verse, incipit: Her begynneth ye medicynns both good and true, heading of chapter xxii A good medycyn for the retrete, b1r incipit: A retrete is whanne a hors is smyten, c5v colophon: Emprynted at Westmestre by Wynkyn De worde, c6r printer's woodcut device, c6v blank). 18 leaves. 30 lines. Type: Duff 4:95 textura and Duff 6:135 textura. Title woodcut of rearing horses beneath a window with stable to the right (Hodnett 896), printer's device (McKerrow 10a), plain and ornamental lombard initials. Paper: three stocks, two types of unicorn watermarks and a gothic P, most deckle edges preserved. (Light dampstain at upper margin, light soiling to first and last pages.) BINDING: early-18th-century calf gilt, narrow roll-tooled borders on sides, marbled endpapers (split at front hinge).
PROVENANCE: Robert/Edward Harley, 1st and 2nd Earls of Oxford. -- Thomas Osborne (Catalogus Bibliothecae Harleianae IV, no. 10583). Information kindly supplied by Dr. Margaret Nickson. -- I.M.S. (initials on front flyleaf). -- ?Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham. -- the Earls Fitzwilliam (pressmarks, bookplate of the 7th Earl Fitzwilliam).
UNIQUE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION AND A NEW ADDITION TO THE CORPUS OF ENGLISH INCUNABULA. It is dated c.1525 by STC but there are strong grounds for rejecting this and placing the book at the end of the 15th century. The primary evidence is the printer's own colophon: 'Emprynted at Westmestre by Wynkyn De worde'. De Worde moved his shop from Westminster to London in 1500. Corroborating a pre-1500 date is the device, which McKerrow cites in books dated 1497 (STC 24866), 1498 (STC 284) and 1499 (STC 5643); a second version (McKerrow 10b) was used in 1500-1502. The type is de Worde's type 4, used in dated books from 1493 to 1502; by 1509 it appears in the hands of Hugo Goes at York. In re-dating a de Worde edition of Marlyn (STC 17840.7), O.D. Macrae-Gibson provided the most detailed examination of de Worde's type 4 yet published ('Wynkyn de Worde's Marlyn', The Library, 1980, pp.73-76). Based on the presence or absence of variant letterforms, the present edition of Proprytees & medicynes of Hors may be dated to about 1497, when the state of type closely resembles that found in the Chronicles of England, printed in 1497. Among the letterforms which belong to the earliest state of type and which appear in the Properties are two forms of I, a sloping W, and a terminal m and n. These forms were replaced, beginning in 1497, when a third form of I (fourth and fifth forms followed later), an upright W, and a more pointed, sharper terminal n and m, were introduced. Of these later forms, only the new terminal n and m appear in the Properties, when m2 has almost entirely replaced m1, but n2 has only just been added to the typecase and is found in only a few examples. Also, the abbreviations for 'that' and 'the' are here in their first state, whereas new forms were introduced (although not to the exclusion of the old) in 1497. A brief examination of the Chronicles of England reveals many of these letterforms appearing concurrently. The larger, plain lombard initials belong to a set appearing in the Chronicles of England (for which information Christie's is grateful to Dr. Lotte Hellinga), as do the smaller set of lombard initials; the ornamental lombard initial on a3r was also used in the Book of Hawking, Hunting and Heraldry (1496). The Harley copies of Properties (c2.5) and the 1496 Book of Hawking, Hunting, and Heraldry (e3) share one of the unicorn paper stocks.
The present copy is that described by Ames (Typographical Antiquities). His description was copied by Herbert and Dibdin, and Duff (353) wondered if a copy mentioned by Dibdin in manuscript notes at the Rylands Library as owned by Earl Fitzwilliam (and probably previously by Harley) might be that copy. Duff's suspicions were correct, and so STC 20439.5 and not STC 20439.3 is Duff 353.
Now firmly dated in the 15th century, the present edition of the text becomes the first, one of the most influential early treatises on equine medicine. The anonymous text of The Proprytees of Hors has a manuscript tradition dating back to at least the middle of the 15th century and, through its incorporation by Gervase Markham in Markham's Maisterpeece, it remained in print until 1734. A small extract (about 9 lines, with different phrasing) was first printed in the Book of Hawking, Hunting, and Heraldry (1486, reprinted 1496). At least two manuscript versions of the text were in circulation up to the middle of the 16th century, on one of which de Worde based his edition (reprinted by Copland c.1565), while the other was used by John King for his edition of c.1560. The short extract in the Book of Hawking, Hunting and Heraldry may represent a third recension, and Gervase Markham drew on manuscript copies as well as the printed texts in compiling his Maisterpeece. (See G. Keiser, 'Medicines for Horses: the Continuity from Script to Print,' Yale University Library Gazette, 69, 1995, pp. 111-128).
The three earliest editions of the Properties all survive in unique copies. An imperfect copy of an edition dated in STC to c.1502 is located at the Huntington Library, and a copy of a newly-discovered edition of about 1560 (STC 24237.5), printed by John King, at the Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass. The only other recorded 16th-century edition (STC 20439.7), printed in 1565, is known in 3 copies only. Duff 353; STC 20439.5