Saturday 13 November 2010

The whole world in your hands

However elegant this title-page from Christopher Plantin’s press may be, in 1583 it had a hard selling job to do. Nomenclator (‘dictionary’) is the title of this multi-lingual glossary ‘of all things’, organized thematically, but the largest type on the page announces that it covers ‘EVERYTHING’. This is the third edition: ‘much enlarged and corrected from the previous editions’ is the gist of the subtitle. Dictionaries are always announced as new and better than before. And of course the largest graphic item on the page is Plantin’s well established brand of the golden compasses. Fittingly for a classification of all human knowledge that is published in book form, the first section is about … words relating to books.

Hadrianus Junius, Nomenclator, omnium rerum propria nomina variis linguis explicata indicans, 3/e. Antwerp, 1583.