The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

What is the scope of the STC?

John Lancaster’s guess for March’s crocodile post is correct:

This catechism, printed in Basel by Andreas Gesner, has an STC number because it follows the use of Salisbury; it therefore belongs to the group of books not in English printed abroad “according to British ‘use’” described in Katharine Pantzer’s introduction to the second edition of the Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of English Books Printed Abroad (STC).

But what exactly is included? Although the ESTC (the online successor to the printed STC volumes and of Donald Wing’s Short Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and British America, and of English Books Printed in other Countries, 1641-1700) is constantly changing, it is worthwhile re-reading Pantzer’s introduction, as it provides both a good understanding of the scope of the books that have been included in these printed and online bibliographies, and a broad view of the evolving British printing landscape throughout the period following the various religious, political, and economic contexts.

‘Not exclusively in English’

A significant number of STC and Wing titles are not in English. In their majority, these books are in Latin and include—for the pre-1700 period—8514 titles: 578 in French, 148 in Greek, 125 in Dutch, 93 in Italian, and 50 in German. A similar search for the post-1700 period gives a drastically different picture of the situation and shows the exponential production of titles in foreign languages in the British Isles in the eighteenth century. For this post, though, I will limit my examples to the pre-1700 period.

One thing to first note is that the STC does not include non-English editions of texts by British authors printed abroad, most likely because they do not reflect book production in the British Isles.

The books included, thus, fall in the following categories.

Books not in English printed in the British Isles1

In her introduction, Katherine Pantzer lists several interesting examples that bring attention to the fact that not all books in this section were solely intended for the British market. STC 19595, for example, is a botanical book, first printed in London then reissued in the Low Countries, and was most likely produced for an international market from the first issue. As a result, both issues are recorded in the ESTC.2

Engraved title page of STC 19595, Folger Shakespeare Library.
Colophon of STC 19595 showing London as the place of printing.

Likewise the book of architecture in French by Salomon de Caus printed in London by the printers Richard Field and Jean Mommart from Brussels (STC 4869) must have been sold on both sides of the Channel.

STC 4869, Folger Shakespeare Library.

Political and religious upheavals also explains the printing of non-English books in the British Isles: STC 16854.3 is a book in Greek printed for the Greek Orthodox community in areas under Ottoman rule, while STC 3937 is a book in Italian printed in London with a false continental imprint—most likely because it was then dangerous to print its author, Giordano Bruno, on the Continent.

STC 3937, Folger Shakespeare Library

Books not in English printed on the Continent for British use3

The Gesner catechism, which was the subject of the Crocodile post, falls into this category of STCs. Books of hours printed on the continent for the British market also belong to this group. One should note, though, that many books of hours printed abroad were in English, such as STC 15971 .

STC 15971, Folger Shakespeare Library

Marginal items4

This category includes a very small group of ecclesiastical texts in Latin for the British market.

Books not in English printed abroad with a British imprint5

Included here are books printed for a British publisher, such as STC 1295 printed in Germany for John Overton.

STC 1295, Folger Shakespeare Library

Katherine Pantzer has also included in this section books with a false British imprint neither printed for a British publisher nor intended solely for the British market. STC 13844, a text by the Protestant lawyer Francois Hotman against the Catholic royal government printed in Basel during the French wars of religion, falls into this category.

STC 13844, Folger Shakespeare Library.

Books ‘in other British languages’ printed abroad6

Books in Welsh seem to represent the largest group of items in this category with 189 pre-1700 books recorded in the ESTC. Pantzer describes these books as printed for the Welsh Catholic community in exile and lists an interesting edition of Pierre Boaistuau’s Theatre Mundi printed in Paris in 1615.

False imprints

These are fascinating books. Because of their range in the ESTC, it might be worthwhile listing their differences reflecting distinct publishing realities:

  • Books in English printed in the British Isles with a false continental imprint.7
  • Books not in English printed in the British Isles with a false continental imprint.8 Several Frankfurt book fair catalogs in Latin printed in London with a false Frankfurt imprint fall into this category.9 By contrast, the ESTC also includes Frankfurt book fair catalogs printed in Frankfurt from 1618 on when they began listing English books.10
  • Books neither in English nor printed in the British Isles with a false British imprint (see STC 13844 above).11

‘Books in English printed abroad’

Or: when is a book English enough to be included in the STC? This is an interesting question indeed. The following types of books are included in the STC: 

‘Books wholly or largely in English’ printed abroad12

Many of these books were printed abroad for religious or political reasons but were intended for a British audience. Recusant texts printed in Northern France belonged to this group. Some books, though, were printed abroad by continental printers interested in tackling the English market (STC 12786, for example).

STC 12786, Folger Shakespeare Library.

‘Books in which English is on a part with other languages’13

Katherine Pantzer has identified two distinct genres of texts here: literature, including emblem books such as Georgette de Montenay’s, and educational texts, mainly represented by multi-lingual dictionaries, such as E635.5.

An opening with emblematic engraving and multi-lingual text in STC 18044.8, Folger Shakespeare Library.
And with text in English on the following page. STC 18044.8, Folger Shakespeare Library.
Title page of a multi-lingual dictionary, E635.5, Folger Shakespeare Library.
A page with multi-lingual text. E635.5, Folger Shakespeare Library.

Marginal items14

 Pantzer describes books in this group as “[having] been treated inconsistently, there being some disagreement on how much English is enough.” How many English phrases in a book make it an English book is indeed a subject of debate. As a matter of fact, we have recently dealt with a similar question here at the Folger and ended up reclassifying a Dutch imprint bearing a Wing call number to an accession number. We made this decision because text in English only appears in one quire and may really have been intended for another multi-lingual edition of this book.

Title page without any English text of 202- 542q, which was previously assigned a Wing number. Folger Shakespeare Library.
A page including some English text in quire E. 202- 542q, Folger Shakespeare Library.

In her introduction, Katherine Pantzer covers much more than books not in English or with a non-British imprint. This may be the subject of another post. In the meantime, though, I encourage all of you who regularly use the STC (or the ESTC) to reread this useful text.

  1. See K. Pantzer, page XXII, paragraph 3
  2. See http://estc.bl.uk/S115759 and http://estc.bl.uk/S5133
  3. See K. Pantzer, page XXII, paragraph 4
  4. See K. Pantzer, page XXIII, paragraph 6
  5. See K. Pantzer, page XXII, paragraph 5
  6. See K. Pantzer,page XXIII, paragraph 8
  7. described in Pantzer’s paragraphs 1 and 2, page XXI
  8. K. Pantzer, paragraph 3, page XXII, paragraph 3
  9. See http://estc.bl.uk/S124750 and http://estc.bl.uk/S124743
  10. For example, http://estc.bl.uk/S124749
  11. K. Pantzer, paragraph 5, page XXII
  12. K. Pantzer, paragraph 7, page XXIII, paragraph 7
  13. K. Pantzer, page XXIII, paragraph 9
  14. K. Pantzer, page XXIV, paragraph 10

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