CAXTON, William - Higden, Ranulf (Ranulphus). Polycronicon. (1482 - THE EARLIEST MENTION IN ENGLISH OF MERLIN)


AUTHOR: CAXTON, William - Higden, Ranulf (Ranulphus)

TITLE: Polycronicon.

PUBLISHER: [Westminster]: William Caxton, 1482.

DESCRIPTION: THE EARLIEST MENTION IN ENGLISH OF MERLIN. A single folio leaf, 27.5 cm x 20.1 cm, 40 lines and headline, black letter, early ink marginalia both recto and verso.

CONDITION: Lower margin replaced, small repairs to upper corners, lightly foxed.

REFERENCE: [BMC XI, 127; Goff H-267; HC 8659; STC 13483; Bod-inc H-121; Pforzheimer 490].

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: This leaf mentions Carmarthen, the supposed birthplace of the wizard Merlin "caermerthyn that is merlins cyte". The town had the legendary "Merlin's oak", which carried the prophecy "When Merlin's Oak comes tumbling down, down shall fall Carmarthen Town". The text of the leaf is from the end of chapter 8 on rivers, and the start of chapter 9 on ancient towns and cities.

William Caxton was the first of the 15th C. printers to publish in English. The Book Club of California had issued a leaf book, 297 copies in 1938, each containing a leaf from the Polycronicon. Though Caxton leaves occasionally appear on the market for about half this price, the price for this one is not unreasonable. I'm sure you would agree that the first leaf of "Romeo and Juliet" from the first folio is worth more then a random text leaf from "Troilus and Cressida". If you think you'll wait for a cheaper example of this leaf to surface I would suggest that you might have better luck finding a single ended stick.