Advertisement for the Sarum Ordinal or Pye

This notice was designed for public display on a wall or a door. It is the earliest surviving advertisement for a printed book in English publishing history, and comes from the Westminster print shop of William Caxton, who brought printing to England. Ironically, the book it promotes, the Sarum Ordinal or Pye, a guide to the annual liturgy for the priests of Salisbury and elsewhere, has not survived. Just eight leaves of it remain, found by chance among the press-waste that made up the binding of Caxton’s edition of Boethius. Below the English text is a request in Latin meaning ‘Pray do not remove this notice’. Readers are invited to Caxton’s premises, a house named The Red Pale at the almonry near Westminster Abbey.

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Single leaf; 80 x 146 mm