Coincidental Technologies: Moving Parts in Early Books and in Early Hypertext

Richard Cunningham
Acadia University




Incunabula, editing, publishing, image, hypertext

This page last modified December 12, 2004 @ 12:00pmAST



The manner in which a work is presented assumes greater significance in some historical moments than in others.  Two of the times when form has assumed greatest significance in the evolution of literate culture in the West have been during the typographical print revolution of the later fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries, and the still evolving electronic print revolution of the later twentieth and the early twenty-first century. In this paper I will provide some background to the history of what have been variously called moveable books (Evers; Haining), books with moving parts (Gingerich), and books with mobiles in them (Lindberg) before using examples of such books to show that even in the first century of printing with moveable type the need for moving pictures was perceived.  Next, I will describe the editorial principles I am using to guide creation of an electronic edition of one of the examples discussed in this paper, The Arte of Navigation, translated by Richard Eden from an existing Spanish text by Martín Cortés.  The present paper will conclude with an invitation to follow a link to that electronic edition, with the caveat that it is, and will remain for some time, a work in progress.

The examples I provide are sixteenth century texts attributed to Johannes Sacrobosco (d.1256), Peter Apian (1495 - 1552), and Richard Eden (c.1520 - 1576).  A copy of each of these texts is held in the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, and the images to be found in this paper are reproduced either from Dibner texts, or from the Folger Shakespeare Library's copy of the 1584 edition of The Arte of Navigation, or they have been created using Macromedia software from Dibner reproductions.  I spent two months in the Dibner Library in 2001 thanks to the generous support of a Smithsonian Instution Libraries / Dibner Library Resident Scholarship.  Also in 2001, I was able to examine copies of Richard Eden's The Arte of Navigation held in the Folger Shakespeare Library and in the Lennox Collection of the New York Public Library thanks to the Izaak Walton Killam Foundation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.  Since that time I have been able to develop the digital edition linked from section 4.0, below, through the assistance of the McConnell Family Foundation and Acadia University, and especially Acadia University's Institute for Teaching and Technology (AITT).  The digital edition-in-progress of The Arte of Navigation to which readers can link from section 4.0 allows construction of moveable images in a manner meant to mimic, as closely as possible, the similar task demanded of readers of the original, sixteenth-century, texts.  The graphical representation of the various parts of these images was done by Janice Hudson while she was an undergraduate in Acadia's Department of English, and by Katie Marshall, a student in the Biology Department.  The images were animated by two Computing Science students, Trevor Dawe and Jamie Chang.  I was put in contact with these exceptional students by the AITT. 



Although they are not the only "mobile books" I have seen and plan eventually to reproduce, the texts I am most likely to reproduce first in digital format are a 1563 edition of Sacrobosco's Libellus de sphaera (printed in Wittenberg, by Johannes Crato), a 1540 edition of Peter Apian's Cosmographia (printed in Antwerp by Arnoldus Berckmann), and a 1584 edition of Richard Eden's Arte of Navigation (printed by "Richard Jugge's widow," Joan Jugge).[1.0.1] These are the books for which I will provide a brief context and description in the present work. What makes these books from the incunabula period particularly special is the fact that they contain images that had to be assembled after the sheets that would become the book had left the press, after the sheets had been folded to form the gatherings that would form the book, and almost certainly after the gatherings had been stitched together to form the book itself. While it is conceivable, or at least not inconceivable, that commercial binders might have assembled these images, based on my examination of copies of The Arte of Navigation held in the Library of Congress, the Dibner, the Folger, and the New York Public Library I find it more likely that the reader / owner of the book assembled them. No two are assembled alike. This important fact has dictated an aspect of my editorial policy for the development of the digital edition of The Arte of Navigation, as I will explain in section 3.0 below. The implication of each surviving copy of a given text being assembled differently--whether slightly or greatly--is that each was assembled by someone different than all the others. According to my understanding of the textual instructions that accompany each image in The Arte of Navigation, the only properly assembled copy I have seen is one that was owned by Henry Percy, the ninth Earl of Northumberland, also known as the Wizard Earl because of his interest in "scientific" experimentation. The Wizard Earl was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1605, where he joined Sir Walter Ralegh, an experienced mariner who had outfitted entire expeditions in addition to participating in one or two himself. During his imprisonment, Percy hired the mathematicians Thomas Harriot, Walter Warner, and Thomas Hues to further his instruction. Harriot had already sailed to Virginia in the employ of Ralegh, and in 1588 published his Briefe and true Report of the new found land of Virgina. Percy had access, that is, to men more than competent in navigational matters to help him correctly assemble the multi-layered images in The Arte of Navigation.

The images that appear in the works under discussion here are often called volvelles, although that term has more commonly come to describe the moving parts themselves. While in The Arte of Navigation the term "rundell" is used to apply to the moving parts themselves, in the current discussion I will use the term "volvelle" to refer to only those elements of an image that actually rotate relative to the background printed on the leaf gathered permanently within the book. To a twenty-first century reader these images look like dials, and this is indeed how they were used. In 1593 Thomas Orwin printed a work by Thomas Fale entitled Horologiographia, or The Art of Dialing. Although his text did not include any images intended to be assembled to enable movement, it nonetheless offers images of volvelles and backgrounds such that readers could build their own dials based on Fale's representations and instructions. As Fale's title suggests, the dials he describes are for calculating time. The dial-images in Sacrobosco's Libellus, Apian's Cosmographia, and Eden's Arte of Navigation serve slightly different ends but like Fale's dials they are intended to aid calculation. As would be expected in a "Book on the World" or on "Cosmography" or on the art of navigating, the scale of calculation is cosmic, having to do with earth's place in the heavens and with the relationship of celestial bodies to the surface of the globe such that a mariner could calculate his position.

To achieve these calculations the Libellus de spaera, the Cosmographia, and The Arte of Navigation had imprinted circular images on leaves found throughout the text. Based on the evidence of surviving copies of the Libellus de sphaera held at the Library of Congress and the Cosmographia held at the Dibner, the parts of the images that would be tied or glued-in later were themselves printed on pages dedicated to the volvelles. This way, the reader who assembled the images could cut the volvelles out without also removing any of the book's textual matter. In 1945, a facsimile edition was published of Martín Cortés's Breve compendio de la sphera y de la art de navegar, the Spanish original of Eden's Arte of Navigation. This facsimile edition also offered a separate page dedicated to the volvelles needed to complete the images in the book, but in neither of the only two original copies of Cortés's work I have examined (both held in the Lennox Collection at the NYPL) does such a page survive. However, I am willing to surmise from the facsimile edition that Cortés's book was originally printed with a page dedicated to the printing of volvelles intended to be cut out for the purpose of being tied or glued to an appropriate background.

Because it is not obvious how the ability to move a volvelle relative to the background would be retained if the former part were glued to the latter, I should explain that the volvelles themselves were not actually glued in. Rather, the page on which the volvelles were printed would also have smaller, decorative circles designed to be used as glue caps. The volvelle itself would have a circle cut out in its centre, and the decorative cap would be glued through that cut-out to the leaf in the book. As a result the volvelle could be rotated while the cap was glued stationary on the background. Alternatively, the volvelles were often tied to the background image by being sewn through the centre of the image such that they could rotate around the centre formed by the string. In these cases the decorative caps were often glued directly to the uppermost volvelle, assumably to prevent the string from untying, or from wearing a hole in the leaf next the one on which the background was printed. I have seen texts in which the compositor left an empty space on the reverse side of the background image so that a protective cap could be glued over the string end for this purpose without covering proximate text. As will be seen in other sections of this article, some of the images I am trying to describe are very complex and multi-layered. I have seen movable images with as many as four layers of volvelles tied in above the background image, each volvelle free to rotate independently of the background and of all other volvelles in the image.


Sacrobosco's Tractatus de spheara

Around 1220, about the time he went to study in Paris, Johannes de Sacrobosco published an astronomical manuscript that would become, approximately 250 years later, one of the first published "scientific" books.[1.1.1] After its first printing on a press with movable type, this text would be reprinted in one style or another almost one hundred times up to the middle of the seventeenth century.[1.1.2] Sacrobosco's Tractatus de sphaera ("Treatise on the Globe") became, with its 1472 printing by Andreas Belfortis, in Ferrara, the Sphaera mundi ("Globe of the World") even while retaining very nearly its original title when printed by Florentius de Argentina as the Tractatvm de Spera in Venice that same year.[1.1.3] Although the titles of numerous editions produced through the agency of printers with movable type retained the nominal archaism of Florentius's Tractatum, increasingly during the sixteenth century the influence of movable type on the text was reflected in its title. Consider, for example, the transitional feel of the title Heinrich Quentell gave the edition he printed in 1501, in Cologne: Opus sphericum Johannis de sacro busto figuris et p[er] utili co[m]mento illustratu[m], which is to say "An illustrative commentary on the use and style of Johannes Sacrobosco's work on the sphere." While Quentell's publication participates in the commentary tradition that arose almost immediately after the original reception of Sacrobosco's Tractatus, with the penning of Michael Scot's commentary sometime in the years between 1230 and 1235 (Thorndyke, 48), it also suggests Quentell's reluctance to produce a work on his press with a title that would obscure Quentell's role as printer. Rather than entitling his work a Tractatum, Quentell opts for the term Opus, "Work." And by the time the Libellus de sphaera, cum praefatione P. Melanthonis ("The Book of the Sphere [or Globe], with a preface by P[hilip] Melancthon") was printed in Wittenberg in 1531, Sacrobosco's "manuscript" had turned the corner into the typographical world of the printed book. Whether presented as commentary or as an emended edition of Sacrobosco's original work, it was by then manifestly the libellus rather than the tractatus, the book rather than the manuscript, on the sphere.


Peter Apian's Cosmographia

Peter Apian, perhaps better known by his Latin name Petrus Apianus, published the first edition of what was to become one of the sixteenth century's most popular books in Landshut, Bavaria. This first edition of the Cosmographia was printed in 1524 by Johann Weyssenburger, a Catholic priest who seems to have learned the printer's trade in Nuremberg before moving to Landshut. Weyssenburger's skill as an illustrator in the medium of the woodcut may help account for the successful printing history of the Cosmographia, but it is just one part of a complex of features that attracted readers to the book. The Cosmographia was re-published in 1529 by the Louvain astronomer and professor of mathematics and medicine, Gemma Frisius, who had it printed by Roeland Bollaert and Johannes Grapheus. Frisius was also an instrument maker, and it may be that he saw in Apian's text an opportunity to popularize some of the instruments he made for sale. The Cosmographia was "a layman's introduction to such subjects as astronomy, geography, cartography, surveying, navigation and mathematical instruments" (O'Connor & Robertson, "Regnier Gemma Frisius"). It was published in "no fewer than forty-five editions, . . . in four languages, [and] was manufactured in seven cities, by at least eighteen publisher/ printers" (Cosmographia: A Close Encounter). Like Sacrobosco's Libellus de sphaera, the Cosmographia was undeniably a best seller in the first century of the typographical print revolution.

Although it seems the 1524 edition "was not very popular" (O'Connor & Robertson, "Regnier"), upon being revised by Frisius the Cosmographia, or a modified version of it entitled Cosmographiae introductio, was published at least every three years until 1564, and during the decades of the 1570s, 1580s, and 1590s it was published four times, four times, and twice, respectively. The majority of editions of the Cosmographia were printed in Antwerp, but there were also editions printed in Cologne, Paris, and Venice. Given the content of the Cosmographia (what one might anachronistically call its interdisciplinary interests) the Renaissance harbour of Antwerp would have been a likely place for its publication, and a receptive place for its sales. Another of the book's features that would have attracted readers to it, after Frisius gained control of it, was its inclusion of current information about the New World (Cosmographia: A Close Encounter). But the feature with which I am most concerned is its inclusion of volvelles.

In the 1524 original edition there were three images that made use of the technology of the volvelle. Frisius added one more, to bring the total to four, but what is most striking about the Cosmographia is the aesthetic quality of these images. Whether or not the Cosmographia was intended to provide instruction to laypeople, it was prepared with an artistry that is unsurpassed in books of its kind, as can be seen in section 2.2, below. However, for my purposes, the history of the reception of the Cosmographia offers an important caution. Three of the four movable images were printed in the original text, and only one more added in 1529. It seems questionable, therefore, how closely the movable image was connected to the Cosmographia's popularity. But I no sooner pose this question than I wonder if it is a red herring? Is it reasonable to suppose that the movable image attracted readers to the book? Is it not equally valid to suppose that readers of the book developed an appreciation for the explanatory force of the movable image as a result of exposure to the Cosmographia? If this is true, then the printing of the Cosmographia in one of the major seafaring crossroads of the Renaissance, Antwerp, where it could get maximum exposure, might help explain its own continuing success as well as possibly having suggested to scholars and printers the value of using movable images to explain complex ideas, movement, and instruments.


Richard Eden's The Arte of Navigation

The Arte of Navigation was translated by Richard Eden from a text originally written in Spanish by Martín Cortés. Cortés's text, entitled Breve compendio de la sphera y de la art de navegar con nuevos instrumentos y reglas exemplificado con muy subtiles demonstraciones, was first printed in 1551, and again in 1556; both printings were issued in Seville. Eden's translation was first printed in London in 1561, where it was re-printed ten times up to its final edition in 1630. [1.3.1] It is in the demonstrations of the new instruments that Cortés's, and subsequently Eden's, debt to earlier editions of Sacrobosco is most immediately evident, and it is these same demonstrations that make Eden's text a particularly appropriate one for translation from typographical to hypertextual representation. As noted above, from section 4.0 of this paper readers can link to the electronic edition currently under development at Acadia University.

When I first encountered The Arte of Navigation in the Folger Shakespeare Library in the late 1990s, I was fascinated by the fact that it contains images with moveable parts. I was so fascinated, in fact, that I determined to share this remarkable text with as many people as possible. Like all copies of books printed in the sixteenth century which still survive in good condition 400 years later, the two copies of The Arte of Navigation held by the Folger, a copy of the 1584 edition printed by "Richard Jugge's widow,"" Joan Jugge, and a copy of the 1596 edition printed by Edward Allde, survive in good condition precisely because they are coddled and cared for by professional librarians in a carefully monitored environment.  The Folger Shakespeare Library is "an independent research library" whose stated mission is "to preserve and enhance its collections; to render the collections accessible to scholars for advanced research" (emphasis added).[1.3.2] By design, the Folger's holdings are accessible only to a privileged few, viz. scholars doing advanced research. Thanks to the good work of all levels of the Folger's staff, their copies of The Arte of Navigation survive in relatively good condition. But due to the very rules that ensure preservation, sharing the book with a wider public would be impossible were it not for the advent of the electronic print revolution.

The fact that Sacrobosco's ideas came in the sixteenth century to be represented via images with moving parts bears repeating. I do not mean to suggest that early printers were the first to imagine representing a complex thought by way of a multi-layered, manipulable image. This technology, the technology of an image with moving parts above (i.e. against) a static background, was also experimented with during the manuscript period. But manuscript codexes were accessible only to a small class of monks and professional scholars, as, analogously, the Folger's texts are now accessible, except under rare and exceptional circumstances, only to professional scholars. It took the printing press to make the movable image any thing like widely available, and analogously only through the development of hypertextual facsimiles will a wider public gain any access to early modern books with moving parts.

As noted above, The Arte of Navigation is a translation into English of a text originally written in Spanish. The original was written to support the system of pilot and navigator training established in the Casa de Contratación de las Indias (the "House of Contracts," or "House of Trade") shortly after its founding in 1503. Located in Seville, Spain, the Casa housed the most advanced navigational school in Europe during the sixteenth century. In 1558 Stephen Borough, Chief Pilot of the Muscovy Company, was admitted to the Casa where he was exposed to the Spanish system for training pilots and navigators (Waters, 10). Upon leaving, Borough carried with him a copy of Cortés' book which with the financial help of the Muscovy Company he had translated by Eden. As indicated by the number of printings this book enjoyed, it met with a very receptive audience.

D. W. Waters, the editor of the 1992 Scholars' Facsimile reproduction of the original 1561 edition of The Arte of Navigation, asserts that Eden's translation was "the navigational textbook above all others, the navigational bible in effect, of seven generations, and was to be of an eighth, of English pilots and mariners urgent to explore the world" (Waters, 22). If Waters' notion of audience is correct, then it seems plausible that moving images were incorporated in books such as the Libellus de sphaera, the Cosmographia, and The Arte of Navigation at least in part to require their readers to actively engage with the construction of paper models of the instruments the images represented. Peter Apian's Astronomicon Caesarium demonstrates that this educational effort was not the sole justification for incorporating moving images into early modern books. However, the singularly spectacular quality of the Astronomicon Caesarium further demonstrates that this was a book designed only to ingratiate Apian to the Royal reader to whom it was presented: the Emperor Charles V.[1.3.3] The much less spectacular, and much more frequently printed, Libellus de sphaera, Cosmographia, and Arte of Navigation served a more utilitarian purpose, and addressed a more pedestrian readership. Whether that purpose was intended to instruct readers how to construct the instruments the images represented, how to use the instruments the images represented, or simply to advertise the existence of such instruments, there was a recognition of the value of moving pictures to communicate adequately the concepts behind, and the workings of, the instruments: even in the first century of moveable type. The printing press was not invented to answer this need, but once the technology of the printing press was available those who recognized in it the opportunity to communicate complex principles of calculation and motion used it for exactly that purpose. And a similar moment in the history of literate culture has not presented itself so advantageously again, until now.


Electronic Stills

The primary advantage of hypertext over print technology lies in the dynamism of the former. Motion is comparatively easily achieved in an electronic environment. Such is not the case in a print environment. The images under discussion in the current article represent early attempts to bring motion to the medium of the printed page, and they were remarkably successful. Readers willing to make the effort to assemble the images, and then to rotate the volvelles, relative to each other or to the background over which they lay, could achieve a kind of motion even in the limited environment of the early modern book. And it is important to note that the activity demanded on the part of those readers of early modern books with movable images was a kind of educational exercise. By assembling the images the reader taught himself how to assemble the instrument the image represented, and by manipulating the images the reader learned how to use the instruments. It would be a pity to lose this educational quality by reproducing the books in a newer medium. Happily, hypertext -unlike film- does not result in the loss of this quality.

Whereas filming an animation of the images before, during, and after assembly would impede the educational process imparted by actual assembly and manipulation, in a hypertextual environment the reader can be required to both assemble and manipulate the object, or with only the task of assembly, or with only the requirement of moving the parts to demonstrate the instrument's utility. In the digital edition of The Arte of Navigation we are currently producing in the Humanities HyperMedia Centre @ Acadia University, we have developed Flash-enabled animations that require assembly and that require the reader to manipulate the image after its assembly. For more on our editorial procedures and a link to our edition, see sections 3.0 and 4.0, below.  But in order to enhance appreciation for the original texts as much as for the work we are doing, in the next three subsections I have provided still images reproduced from the original copies of Sacrobosco's and Apian's texts held in the collection of the Smithsonian's Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology, and from the Folger Shakespeare Library's copy of the 1584 edition of The Arte of Navigation.




An image of the title page of the Dibner's 1563 edition of Sacrobosco's Libellus de sphaera prefaced by the Humanist Philip Melancthon.
This image, reproduced from signature B7r of the 1563 edition of the Libellus de sphaera, consists of a circular volvelle with an image of the moon in the umbra of the earth's shadow attached closest to the background leaf, a more delicate volvelle cut to produce three pointers aiming at 0, 90, and 180 degrees, and finally above all a glue cap with an image of a town printed on it and a pointer oriented toward the top of the image.
The original of this image of "an instrument by which the roundness of the latitude of the world can be tested, and by which all other things are able to be shown, which the Creator delivered in the third part of the days of creation" is assembled on sig. B8r of the Dibner's copy.  The frayed end of the string that holds the volvelle to the leaf is easily visible, even in the thumbnail image to the left.
This image of "An instrument by which all diverse things of the realm of the Poet [the heavens?] have been brought under [our] eyes" is assembled at Sig. D5v of the Dibner's copy of the 1563 edition of the Libellus de sphaera.



The title page from a 1540 Latin edition of Peter Apian's Cosmographia published by Gemma Frisia.
This image from Sig. C2v from the 1540 edition of the Cosmographia suggests Weyssenburger's skill as an illustrator.
This enlargement of the glue cap provided for the preceding image provides further evidence of the intricacy of some of the illustrations in the Cosmographia.
The beauty of this image is due in no small measure to the complexity and delicacy of its volvelles. The image is taken from Sig. C3v of the 1540 edition of Apian's Cosmographia.
The similarities between this image and the third in the series of Sacrobosco images above, and the fourth and fifth in the series of images from the Arte of Navigation below shows the indebtedness of later authors to Sacrobosco, and the interconnectedness of the printer's art during the sixteenth century.


This image of the title page of the Folger Shakespeare Library's copy of the 1584 edition Richard Eden's Arte of Navigation suggests the opportunity to use computer software to enhance an image such that an electronic version might more closely represent the appearance of the original document in a newly printed state than does the surviving paper copy.
The background of this image that Eden describes, on sig. D7v, as "an Instrument, by the which is founde the place and declination of the Sunne, with the dayes and place of the Moone" can be found on sig. D8v of the 1584 edition.  When properly assembled it is a movable image with volvelles representing the revolutions of the sun and moon.
The background of this image of "an Instrument general for houres of the nyght" (sig. F5r) can be found on sig. F7v of the 1584 edition.  This dial was offered as a means by which mariners could use celestial bodies to determine the time of night.  There are three volvelles tied in to this Folger Library copy, but if it were correctly assembled two of them would not be there. 
In the sixteenth-century print editions of The Arte of Navigation the image reproduced here served an explanatory rather than a participatory purpose.  This image of the volvelles was positioned two leaves, i.e. one signature, prior to that on which the background for the assembled image appeared.  Invariably, there is text printed on the opposite side of the leaf. 
Here is an image of the assembled "demonstration" as such images are called in Eden's text, of "an Instrument generall to knowe the houres and quantities of the daye: and at what wynde the Sunne ryseth and falleth."  Once again one cannot but see in this image a debt to Sacrobosco.


Editorial Principles

"Electronic publishing is," as Peter Shillingsburg has asserted, "incunabular, energetic, and exciting" (161). Traditionally, an incunabula is a book printed prior to 1500, or during the first approximately half century after the development of the printing press. Thus Shillingsburg's description of the current state of electronic publishing as incunabular remains as true in 2004 as it was when it appeared in the 1997 3rd edition of his Scholarly Editing in the Computer Age.[3.0.1] The energy and excitement of electronic publishing accounts for as much wasted as productive effort, as Shillingsburg also notes (161 - 2). Perhaps it is easier to distinguish between the two kinds of effort in 2004 than it was during the 1990s. It should be, since more has been accomplished in the realm of electronic publishing and more of the wasted efforts have either been abandoned or have been recognized as such and their authors have moved to address their shortcomings. This is not to say that all electronic publications are now reliable and produced with the kind of academic rigour scholars desire and indeed need if they are to make use of these publications in their own work. But the evolution of electronic publication over the past decade and a half has enabled scholars to develop a set of minimum criteria that ought to be met in order to demarcate a publication as one worthy of the adjective "scholarly."

Shillingsburg's work itself provides an excellent starting point for the compilation of a set of editorial principles to be followed by anyone wishing to produce a reliable, scholarly, electronic text. Additional criteria can be culled from Jerome McGann's "The Rationale of HyperText," and his "Textual Scholarship, Textual Theory, and the Uses of Electronic Tools," and from Wilhelm Ott's on-line article "Textual Criticism / Scholarly Editing."  Ronald Tetreault's on-going work on an electronic edition of Wordsworth and Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads has given him a rare position from which to comment on not only the technical and academic but also the institutional needs of the scholarly community where electronic publication is concerned. Tetrault has generously shared his experience in papers given in scholarly conferences and in publications such as "Editing in an Electronic World: The Lyrical Ballads Project" and "New Models for Electronic Publishing."  Rather than taking the hermeneutic route through these and similar publications, or the experiential route that would require examination of a wide array of both successful and unsuccessful attempts at producing scholarly electronic texts, a would-be author or editor might consult Shillingsburg's "General Principles for Electronic Scholarly Editions" or the more recent MLA "Guidelines for Electronic Scholarly Editions."  A paradigm that might prove very effective in addressing the needs of editors of books not born digital is the "Just in Time Markup for Electronic Editions" described by Phillip William Berrie, although JITM strikes me as an unlikely option when the goal is the production of a facsimile or a diplomatic edition.  While the rules for electronic scholarly publishing will undoubtedly come to be as simultaneously codified and fluid as are the MLA, APA, CBE, or Chicago styles for the publication in hardcopy of academic work, during this incunabular period they are not yet so. And therefore mere consultation of a set of guidelines does not strike me as sufficient preparation for the production of a scholarly electronic text.

The electronic edition of The Arte of Navigation is still a work in progress, and much remains to be done. But in order to minimize the wasted effort that might lead us down blind alleys or in the worst case to the production of a work that fails to satisfy the demands of academic rigour applied to scholarly texts, I have developed my own set of editorial principles to guide our work as my student assistants and I prepare this edition.

The first principle is one that leads to others, and it is the recognition that in the realm of electronic publication one needs to remain constantly aware of the distinction between the authorial / editorial environment and the environment of the reader. From this flows a concern for a variety of issues that can be collected under the general heading of accessibility. The author or editor of a work must always consider the possibility that the reader will attempt to access the work from a platform or through an operating system different from the one in which the work is composed or edited. The reader may want to access the work from more than one platform or within the environment of more than one operating system. Thus, in preparing the work, every effort must be made to make the work as widely accessible as possible. No specialized software ought to be required unless it is freely available or easily and compactly attached to the work itself, and, in the latter case, can be opened and used with no specialized knowledge. Another issue of accessibility attaches only to works made available on-line. Care should be taken to make on-line works as small as possible in order that narrow band-width does not impede or, worse still, prevent access. Two possible solutions to this problem come to mind: first, the text might be made available as a downloadable zip file the reader can open and read and make use of after the download is complete; second, once we grow out of the incunabula era band-width may no longer be an issue. The problem with the second suggestion is the lack of control editors and authors have over this solution (to say nothing of the possibility that such an ideal state may never be reached). The first suggestion poses problems of copyright, and may invite manipulation of the text in ways that on-line editions do not, but at least such a solution puts the question of control back into the hands of those who produce the texts.  And if JITMarkup is employed along with an authenticating mechanism such as is advocated at I.C.4.a of the MLA "Guidelines for Electronic Scholarly Editions" then the question of manipulation by unauthorized persons may not be an insuperable problem. The impact of size on accessibility is a problem with which we continue to grapple as we move our electronic edition of The Arte of Navigation forward. An accessibility issue with which we have already come to terms is the nature of the images themselves. Rather than using bitmap images that would suffer pixelation when resized to fit the reader's screen we have composed the majority of our images -and all of our movable images- as vector graphics. This ensures the survival of their proportions and even their very recognizability when they are resized.

Aside from issues of accessibility, other editorial principles guiding production of The Arte of Navigation include some fairly standard principles of scholarly editing. Currently, we are working toward production of a near-facsimile of the 1584 edition held at the Folger Shakespeare Library, and, according to the editorial hierarchy schematized by G. Thomas Tanselle, this goal can best be answered through the production of a diplomatic edition, i.e. an edition that seeks not to correct but to re-create the original.[3.0.2]  Subsequently, I hope to produce an archive of electronic editions of The Arte of Navigation in which readers will be able to access diplomatic editions based on each of the book's original printings, as well as filmed facsimiles of those editions, as well as a scholarly edition in the traditional sense: one in which the book's images are correctly assembled and printing accidents are corrected. Before such an archive can be assembled, it will be necessary to create a single, diplomatic edition, and it is toward that end that my current efforts are directed.

In order to ensure that our electronic text is as accurate as possible two students, Katie Marshall and Anna Galway, are currently working in tandem to proofread the text Katie typed in over the summer. They are using the system for proofreading recommended in the Chicago Manual Of Style (3.9 "Typographical Errors"), according to which one of them reads aloud from a microfilm purchased from the Folger Shakespeare Library of that institution's copy of the 1584 edition. In addition to vocalizing punctuation and paragraph breaks along with the text, Anna and Katie are also sounding out variant spellings, changes in font, the production of irregular characters, etc. The office of Research and Graduate Studies at Acadia University has furnished me with funding for travel to the Folger in order to check those aspects of the text we cannot conclusively determine from the microfilm. And in order to ensure that we have more than merely our energy and excitement to offer the scholarly community, The Arte of Navigation will be subjected to the peer review process when it is submitted for publication.

Any electronic text, from a simple webpage to an electronic archive, should include the date on which it was last modified, and it should include the name or names of those responsible for the page or the individual elements of the archive.  General responsibility should appear on the site as part of the data, while specific responsibility for individual elements can be attributed as part of the meta-data.  In this, TEI looks likely to be sufficient for our purposes.

With an electronic text such as The Arte of Navigation, a text intended to fulfill an educational function through the provision of movable parts to be assembled and manipulated by the reader, I think it is important to refrain from providing too assertive a default mechanism in the programming of the movable images.  That is, as the surviving copies of the original books demonstrate, there was no guarantee in the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries that the assembly choices the reader made were correct.  The opportunity for error should be retained.  However, I also want people to be able to confirm that their assembly is correct, even if this does move the electronic edition away from the ideal of the facsimile.  This is a fine line, between providing a default setting that actively corrects the reader's mistakes and one that simply, more passively, confirms their assembly, but it is a line that I am confident we can navigate.

Finally, one of the great advantages of any electronic text is its searchability. A reader's ability to search a text, beyond the superficial level of the simple word search, is determined by the mark-up added to the text during its production phase, either by an editor or, less typically, by the author. In the case of The Arte of Navigation we plan to use, for the most part, TEI conformant SGML for the text. I anticipate encoding problems if we restrict ourselves too tightly to only TEI, and whenever necessary our mark-up will be supplemented with the Renaissance Text Encoding system developed by Ian Lancashire. Since TEI stands for Text Encoding Initiative it is not surprising that it promises comparatively little help for us as we plan to mark-up the many images and rubrications in The Arte of Navigation. For guidance in this aspect of our project, we will look to the Comic Book Mark-up Language, or CBML, developed by John Walsh, an example of which can be seen on the 2002 XML Conference & Exposition website.


A Digital Edition: Beyond the Electronic Still

I want to reiterate the fact that our electronic edition of The Arte of Navigation is still in development.  As noted in the preceding section, we are still grappling with issues of accessibility, and as implied there if not stated explicitly we have yet to mark-up the text, much less the images.  However, I am confident ours is a good start, and that from this beginning we will be positioned to produce a scholarly archive of early modern books with movable parts.

I welcome readers to take the time to visit an electronic edition of the 1584 edition of

 Richard Eden's

The Arte of Navigation.


1.0.1. The printer's imprint for the 1584 editions ascribes the printing to "Richard Iugge's widow." British Book Trade Index provides this woman's name.

1.1.1. I realize it is anachronistic to apply the term "science" and its derivatives to work done prior to at least the seventeenth-century advent of the Royal Society. Nonetheless I agree with Jim Bennett that "natural philosophy [is] the conglomerate anachronistically labelled 'science'" (1), and Sacrobosco's work certainly formed part of the institutional study of natural philosophy during the incunabula period of the first print revolution.

1.1.2. The most common form of reproduction was the Commentary, as would be expected with a text the Scholastics considered important. This style survived the Scholastic era, when new commentaries were being written, to adorn the print era when new commentaries were still being written or extant commentaries were translated into new languages, or were edited or "corrected."

1.1.3. Roberto de Andrade Martins of the University of Campinas, Brazil has published an exceptional resource on the web, entitled "Johannes de Sacrobosco: Editions of the Tractatus de Sphaera."

1.3.1. According to D. W. Waters, The Arte of Navigation was printed in 1561, 1572, 1576, 1579, 1584, 1589, 1596, 1609, 1615, and 1630.  I have encountered no other references to the 1576 edition.

1.3.2. The description of the library is taken from the "About the Folger" page on the Folger's website, and the excerpt from its mission is taken from its "Mission" page. Accessed November 4, 2004.

1.3.3. Apian was successful. The Astronomicon Caesarium secured him a position as court mathematician.

3.0.1. I have not seen the second edition, but the third edition contains a chapter on "Electronic Editions" that is not present in the first edition. The statement quoted above is taken from this chapter.

3.0.2 For a graphic representation of this editorial hierarchy, see p. 11 of Tanselle.



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