Bartholomaeus Anglicus, De proprietatibus rerum (Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 1483).

A lavish gilt initial decorating the beginning of the text of this encyclopaedia originally written by a 13th century English Franciscan, and printed by one of the first printers based in Nurnberg. Anton Koberger was also the biggest operator in the business in both the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, running 24 presses, employing over 100 people. At one point his business encompassed all aspects of book-production, including printing, publishing, book-selling and binding, and he had outlets in Budapest, Cologne, Paris, Lyons, Frankfurt, Vienna and Warsaw.

Decorated initials were an important navigational device in manuscripts, emphasising the beginning of different chapters of a work, and early printed books were designed so that they could be inserted by a skilled artist after printing. Usually a space was left for the decoration, but sometimes a small guide-letter was printed in the centre of this space to aid the illuminator. Other less important initials were added in by hand in coloured ink, usually red, in a process known as rubrication.

Given by Richard Pendlebury.