Page images
PDF
EPUB

embracing works on specially designated subjects. The two classes last named are by far the most numerous.

Although what may be termed a "universal catalogue" has been the dream of scholars for many ages, it is as far as ever from being realized—and in fact much farther than ever before, since each year that is added to the long roll of the past increases enormously the number of books to be dealt with, and consequently the difficulties of the problem. We may set down the publication of a work which should contain the titles of all books ever printed, as a practical impossibility. The world's literature is too vast and complex to be completely catalogued, whether on the coöperative plan, or any other. Meanwhile the many thousands of volumes, each of which has been devoted to some portion of the vast and ever-increasing stores of literature and science which human braing have put in print, will serve to aid the researches of the student, when rightly guided by an intelligent librarian.

Notwithstanding the hopeless nature of the quest, it is true that some men of learning have essayed what have been termed universal bibliographies. The earliest attempt in this direction was published at Zürich in 1545, under the title of "Bibliotheca Universalis," by Conrad Gesner, a Swiss scholar whose acquisition of knowledge was so extensive that he was styled “a miracle of learning." This great work gave the titles of all books of which its author could find trace, and was illustrated by a mass of bibliographical notes and criticism. It long held a high place in the world of letters, though it is now seldom referred to in the plethora of more modern works of bibliography. In 1625, the bookseller B. Ostern put forth at Frankfort, his Bibliothèque Universelle, a catalogue of all books from 1500 to 1624. In 1742, Th. Georgi isBued in eleven folio volumes, his Allgemeines Europäisches Bücher-lerikon, claiming to represent the works of nearly all writers from 1500 down to 1739. This formidable catalogue may perhaps be said to embrace more forgotten books than any other in the literary history of the world.

Almost equally formidable, however, is the bibliography of that erudite scholar, Christian G. Jöcher, who put forth in 1750, at Leipzig, his Allgemeines Gelehrten-lexicon, in which, says the title page, “the learned men of all classes who have lived from the beginning of the world up to the present time, are described.” This book, with its supplement, by Adelung and Rotermund, (completed only to letter R), makes ten ponderous quarto volumes, and may fairly be styled a thesaurus of the birth and death of ancient scholars and their works. It is still largely used in great libraries, to identify the period and the full names of many obscure writers of books, who are not commemorated in the catalogues of universal bibliography, compiled on a more restrictive plan.

We come now to the notable catalogues of early-printed books, which aim to cover all the issues of the

press from the first invention of printing, up to a certain period. One of the most carefully edited and most readily useful of these is Hain, (L.) Repertorium Bibliographicum, in four small and portable octavo volumes, published at Stuttgart in 1826-38. This gives, in an alphabet of authors, all the publications found printed (with their variations and new editions), from A. D. 1450 to A. D. 1500.

More extensive is the great catalogue of G. W. Panzer, entitled Annales Typographici, in eleven quarto volumes, published at Nuremberg from 1793 to 1803. This work, which covers the period from 1457 (the period of the first book ever printed with a date) up to A. D. 1536, is not arranged alphabetically (as in Hain’s Repertorium) by the names of authors, but in the order of the cities or

[ocr errors]

places where the books catalogued were printed. The bibliography thus brings together in one view, the typographical product of each city or town for about eighty years after the earliest dated issues of the press, arranged in chronological order of the years when printed. This system has undeniable advantages, but equally obvious defects, which are sought to be remedied by many copious indexes of authors and printers.

Next in importance comes M. Maittaire's Annales Typographici, ab artis inventae origine ad annum 1664, printed at The Hague (Hagae Comitum) and completed at London, from 1722-89, in eleven volumes, quarto, often bound in five volumes. There is besides, devoted to the early printed literature of the world, the useful three volume bibliography by La Serna de Santander, published at Brussels in 1805, entitled Dictionnaire bibliographique choisie du quinzième siècle, Bruxelles, 1803, embracing a selection of what its compiler deemed the more important books published from the beginning of printing up to A. D. 1500. All the four works last named contain the titles and descriptions of what are known as incunabula, or cradle-books (from Latin cunabula, a cradle) a term applied to all works produced in the infancy of printing, and most commonly to those appearing before 1500. These books are also sometimes called fifteeners, or 15th century books.

Of general bibliographies of later date, only a few of the most useful and important can here be named. At the head of these stands, deservedly, the great work of J. C. Brunet, entitled Manuel du Libraire et de l'amateur des livres, the last or 5th edition of which appeared at Paris in 1860-64, in five thick octavo volumes. The first edition of Brunet appeared in 1810, and every issue since has exhibited not only an extensive enlargement, but great

improvement in careful, critical editorship. It embraces most of the choicest books that have appeared in the principal languages of Europe, and a supplement in two volumes, by P. Deschamps and G. Brunet, appeared in 1878.

Next to Brunet in importance to the librarian, is J. G. T. Graesse's Trésor des Lirres rares et précieux, which is more full than Brunet in works in the Teutonic languages, and was published at Dresden in six quarto volumes, with a supplement, in 1861-69. Both of these bibliographies aim at a universal range, though they make a selection of the best authors and editions, ancient and modern, omitting however, the most recent writers. The arrangement of both is strictly alphabetical, or a dictionary of authors' names, while Brunet gives in a final volume a classification by subjects. Both catalogues are rendered additionally valuable by the citation of prices at which many of the works catalogued have been sold at book auctions in the present century.

In 1857 was published at Paris a kind of universal bibliography, on the plan of a catalogue raisonné, or dictionary of subjects, by Messrs. F. Denis, Pinçon, and De Martonne, two of whom were librarians by profession. This work of over 700 pages, though printed in almost microscopic type, and now about forty years in arrears, has much value as a ready key to the best books then known on nearly every subject in science and literature. It is arranged in a complete index of topics, the books under each being described in chronological order, instead of the alphabetical. The preponderance is given to the French in the works cited on most subjects, but the literature of other nations is by no means neglected. It is entitled Nouveau Manuel de Bibliographie universelle, and being a subjective index, while Brunet and Graesse are

arranged by authors' names, it may be used to advantage in connection with these standard bibliographies.

While on this subject, let me name the books specially devoted to lists of bibliographical works-general and special. These may be termed the catalogues of catalogues,—and are highly useful aids, indeed indispensable to the librarian, who seeks to know what lists of books have appeared that are devoted to the titles of publications covering any period, or country, or special subject in the whole circle of sciences or literatures. The first notably important book of reference in this field, was the work of that most industrious bibliographer, Gabriel Peignot, who published at Paris, in 1812, his Repertoire bibliographique universelle, in one volume. This work contains the titles of most special bibliographies, of whatever subject or country, published up to 1812, and of many works bibliographical in character, devoted to literary history.

Dr. Julius Petzholdt, one of the most learned and laborious of librarians, issued at Leipzig in 1866, a Bibliotheca bibliographica, the fuller title of which was “a critical catalogue, exhibiting in systematic order, the entire field of bibliography covering the literature of Germany and other countries.” The rather ambitious promise of this title is well redeemed in the contents: for very few catalogues of importance issued before 1866, are omitted in this elaborate book of 931 closely printed pages. Most titles of the bibliographies given are followed by critical and explanatory notes, of much value to the unskilled reader. These notes are in German, while all the titles cited are in the language of the books themselves. After giving full titles of all the books in general bibliography, he takes up the national bibliographies by countries, citing both systematic catalogues and periodicals devoted to the literature of each in any period. This is followed by a

« PreviousContinue »