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Early Bookowners in Britain

British provenances from 1450 to 1550

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Early Bookowners in Britain

About this Database

For several decades there have been efforts throughout Europe to investigate the national histories of books, their printing and the book trades.

The history of the book in Britain, which started in the early Middles Ages and continues to date, comprises not only the printing of books in Great Britain, but also the import and sales of books.

The private ownership of printed books has been, up to now, a barely investigated question. Margaret Lane Ford has addressed the private ownership of printed books in the late 15th and early 16th century. For a contribution to The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain she has gathered evidences of provenances for the time period in question from over 4300 printed works. In the past, books in private ownership had a high practical value and were of importance for the pursuit of professions. Classical and theological texts were indispensable for the university-educated and students, while technical works were needed by merchants and craftsmen.

Other owners of books were for example the monasteries, who used books in their scriptoria and the gentry, who had the means to acquire books for mere luxury.