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Bookseller & Bibliographer Andrew Maunsell Issues the First "Books in Print"


In 1595 bookseller and bibliographer Andrew Maunsell published in London The First Part [the Seconde Parte] of the Catalogue of English printed Bookes. This was the first trade bibliography of English books, giving author, translator where applicable, a title full enough to ensure definite identification, format, and printer or bookseller and date. It listed those books printed in the preceding fifty to sixty years and which were still available from publishers and booksellers. The first part, consisting of 123 pages, listed theology-excluding anti-Reformation literature. The much shorter second part, consisting of 27 pages, listed "the Sciences Mathematicall, as Arithmetick, Geometrie, Astronomie, Astrologie, Musick, and the Arte of VVarre, and Nauigation; and also of Phisick and Surgerie."

In his Beginnings of Systematic Bibliography (2nd ed 1940) Theodore Besterman characterized Maunsell's work as the one in which a "a real technique of book-description is made use of for the first time" (p. 29). The Catalogue is also an alphabetical subject bibliography, with the larger subjects sub-divided and in each section works arranged alphabetically by author's surname—one of the earliest uses of the surname for indexing.

In his dedication to "Worshipfull the Master, Wardens, and Assistants of the Companie of Stationers and to all other Printers and Booke-sellers in generall" Maunsell wrote of learned men that

"have written Latine Catalogues, [Conrad] Gesner, Simler, and our countrman John Bale. They make their Alphabet by the Christen name, I by the Sir name; They mingle Diuinitie, Law Phiscke, &c. together, I set Diuinitie by itselfe; They set downe Printed and not Printed, I onely Printed, and none but such as I have seene. . . Concerning the Books which are without Authors names called Anonymi, I have placed them either upon the Title they bee entiuled by, or else upon the matter they entreate of, and sometimes upon both, for the easier finding of them."

Maunsell then explained his cross-indexing system, and how it should be used throughout the work.

Breslauer & Folter, Bibliography: Its History and Development (1984) no. 36.

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