Discripcion of Britayne.

Accession number: 
PML 679.1
Higden, Ranulf, -1364.
Westminster : William Caxton, 18 August 1480.
[30] leaves ; 26 cm (fol.)
Credit Line: 
Purchased with the Bennett collection, 1902.

Title and imprint from colophon (leaf [4]/5r): Here endeth het discripcion of Britayne the / whiche conteyneth englond wales and scotland / [and] also bicause Irlonde in under the reule of englond [and] of olde tyme it hath so continued therfore I have sette the descripcion of the same after the said brituyne / which I have taken oute of Policronicon / And bicause it is necessarie to alle englisshmen to knowe the propertees co[m]moditees [and] mervailles of them / therefore I have sette them in enprinte according to the translacion of Trevisa / whiche atte request of the lord Barkeley translated the book of Policronicon in to englissh / Fynysshed by me william Carton [sic] the xviii. day of August the yere of our lord god M.CCCC. lxxx. and the xx. yere of the regne of kyng Edward the fourthe.
Printed in Caxton's type 4:95B.
Collation: [1-3⁸ 4⁶]: 30 leaves, leaf [4]/6 blank.
Paper format: Chancery folio
Goff, ISTC, and GW consider this title with the Chronicles of England as a single edition in two parts dated: I) 10 June 1480; II) 18 Aug. 1480. BMC divides into two editions, but intended to be sold together.
The Description of Britain is derived from Liber I of Trevisa's translation of Higden's Polychronicon, printed by Caxton in 1482 (BMC).
PML copy leaf dimensions: 25.4 x 18.7 cm.
PML copy missing 7 leaves: [1]/1.8, [1]/2.7, [1]/3.6, and [4]/6 (blank); text leaves replaced in Chiswick type facsimile. Many leaves washed/bleached, causing lombards and marginal annotations to fade.

19th-century full brown goatskin blind-stamped in an antiquarian style over paper boards (26 x 19.5 cm), by Francis Bedford for Henry Stevens, 1860. Plain paper pastedowns and fly leaves; decorative endbands; gilt edges.
Variant Title: 

The description of Britain


Hand decoration: Rubricated, red lombards (small ball terminals on extenders) and paragraph marks (C-type with slightly extended upper stroke, which is also found in parts of the Chronicles, PML 679.2). Annotations: Marginal notations throughout, mostly washed/faded, 16th/17th century (same as in PML 679.2).

Henry Stevens (1819-1886), binding; Stevens placed book in Edward A. Crowninshield's sale, Puttick and Simpson, 12 July 1860, lot 478 (to Minton, according to De Ricci, cf. Puttick letter in volume); Bertram Ashburnham (1797-1878), Earl of Ashburnham, with shelf mark: 29.E. (or F.) (front pastedown); his sale, Sotheby's, 25 June 1897, pt. I, lot 988, to Quaritch; Richard Bennett (1849-1930), armorial bookplate (first fly leaf recto) and bibliographical notes: No. 264, 1/7/97 and price code lwm/-/- +com (front pastedown), purchased from Quaritch; Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913), purchased with the Bennett collection, 1902.