Bożena Sajna

MYMER'S DICTIONARIUS... AND COTENIUS' VOCABULARY...: UNIQUE EDITIONS OF MUCH-READ BOOKS IN THE EARLY PRINTED BOOKS COLLECTION OF THE NATIONAL LIBRARY

A small volume (octavo size), acquired in December 2007 by the National Library from a Viennese antiquarian bookshop, contains two exceptionally precious old Polish texts previously unknown to bibliographers: an edition of Dictionarius trium liguarum Latine Teutonice et Polonice... by Franciszek Mymer, printed in Kraków presumably by Maciej Szarfenberg no earlier than 1533, and a self-teaching manual, which is predominantly a Polish-German phrasebook: Wokabularz rozmaitych i potrzebnych sentencji... [A Dictionary of Various Much-Needed Sentences...], which was printed in Toruń by Andrzej Koteniusz in 1603. Although the edition of the Vocabulary was described by Stanisław Estreicher1 on the basis of a unique copy from the library of the Evangelical Church in Vilnius, no copy could be found after the Second World War nor has any been in the possession of the Polish libraries since.

Both prints were bound together at the beginning of the 17th century using earlier parchment manuscript leaves on old parchment paper, with the covers strengthened by cardboard. The surviving elements are the upper bands and the remnants of a label bearing the title on the spine. The two works were combined because of their character as manuals and – presumably – because of having the same former owner, Paweł Nitsch, who had moved from Wrocław to Vienna. The following inscription, dating back to approximately 1600, can be found on the title page of Mymer’s dictionary: “Ex catalogo librorum Pauli Nity Wratislaviensis” and inside (sign. 3v) there is a note – presumably from later years – “Ego seposo (sevoso?) Matthias malcarik (malcavik?)." The title page of the Wokabularz bears this note in the same handwriting as the title page of the Dictionarius, dating back to 1603 at the earliest: “Ex libris Pauli Raphaelis Nitsch Bratislaviensis Viennae Canonici,” as well as two other notes written by another person: "Loci Capucinor[um] Vienne[nsium] intra Urbem," and "Loci Capucin[orum] Viennae intra." This signifies that the book found its way into the Library of the Capuchin monastery in Vienna.

The first of the prints bound together is Wokabularz rozmaitych y potrzeb­nych sentencyi Polskim y Niemieckim Mlodziencom na pozytek teraz zebrany. Ein Vocabular mancherley schonen und notwendigen Sententien der Polnischen und deutschen Jugend zu nutz zusamen getragen, printed in Toruń in Andrzej Koteniusz’s printing house, 1603. - 120 ff., (left blank), sign. A-P8 ; 8vo. (E.XXXIII, 237).

This manual, intended both for Poles and for Germans, was a reprint of the 1566 Königsberg edition by Jan Daubman. The foreword by the printer, addressed to "Wiernemu Czytelnikowi... Dem Frendlichen – Lese" ["Dear Reader"], is dated November 12, 1566. In addition to the Polish-German phrasebook, the following were included in the work: a Declinatio verborum una cum Germanico et Polonico; a fragment of Rozmowy, które miał król Salomon mądry z Marchołtem grubym [Conversations between the wise king Solomon and the fat Marchołt], "suitable for young girls for learning Polish” (in Polish and in German); letter patterns, written, it should be noted, mostly by women; and prayers intended especially for children.

This manual/self-teaching book was published many times in Kraków, Królewiec, Toruń and Wrocław.2 As established by Anna Lewicka-Kamińska, its first edition was prepared by Hieronim Wietor in his publishing house in Kraków in 1539. At that time, it was entitled Polskie książeczki wielmi potrzebne ku uczeniu się polskiego, przytym i po niemiecku wyłożone [Polish Booklets Much Needed for Learning Polish, with the Text Also Translated into German].3 The later editions came to be entitled “Wokabularz” [Vocabulary].

Before the Polskie Książeczki... [Polish Booklets...] were published, the texts of the Polish-German dialogues were brought out on their own. These were edited by publishers to meet local needs, taking into consideration local conditions.4 The early edition of the phrasebook Eyn kurtze und gruntliche Underweisung beyder sprachen zu reden und zu lesen Polnisch und Deutsch. Krotkie ij gruntowne Ukazanie ij nauka oboyey mowy..., printed in Wittenberg in 1523 or 1524, the unique copy of which survived in the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, was described by Jan Pirożyński.5  This author also made an attempt to determine the interrelations between the earlier editions of the phrasebook (Unterweisung beider sprachen) and the more extensive manual/self-teaching booklet (Polskie książeczki, Wokabularz [Polish Booklets and Vocabulary]).6 However, it must be noted that only small fragments of the text, recovered by Kazimierz Piekarski from the book’s pasteboard, survived from the earliest known edition of the Polish-German phrasebook printed in Kraków by Florian Ungler in 1523, according to Henryk Bułhak,7 and possibly as early as 1521 according to J. Pirożyński.8 The large demand for this type of publication led to the texts of the Polish-German dialogues being published in parallel with the more extensive Wokabularz [Vocabulary].9

All these editions, phrasebooks and manuals that were necessary for learning purposes and in everyday life, were seen as a tool to be used and thus became “over-read,” surviving only in a small number of copies, and the ones that we have in our possession are frequently incomplete. For the very same reason, copies from earlier editions of Latin-Polish dictionaries are equally rare, and therefore the second of the prints – a complete bibliographical novelty, the previously unknown fourth edition of Dictionarius trium linguarum by Franciszek Mymer – is very precious.

The description of the dictionary is as follows: Dictionarius trium linguarum Latine: Teutonice: et Polonice: nunc quarto plurimis in locis auctus : titulis per seriem alphabeti concinnatus: cum peregrinantibus: tum domi desidentibus: et quibuslibet tribus linguis loqui cupientibus; non tam utilis ac necessarius. - [Kraków: Maciej Szarfenberg, non ante 1533 ?]. – 48 [+ 2 ?] ff., sign. A-B8, C-D4, E8, F-H4, I6; 8vo.



1 K. Estreicher, Bibliografia polska [Polish Bibliography], vol. 33. Kraków 1939, p. 237 (in the quoted text: as E. XXXIII, 237).

2 K. Estreicher, see above, pp. 235-238.

3 A. Lewicka-Kamińska, Pod jakim tytułem ukazał się Wokabularz Wietora? [Under what title was Wietor’s Vocabulary Published?], in: Przegląd Biblioteczny [Library Survey] 1961, XXIX, pp. 159-163.

4 A. Lewicka-Kamińska, Nauka cudna nieznane wydanie z r. 1544 [Wonderful Science, Unknown 1544 Edition] in: Biuletyn Biblioteki Jagiellońskiej [Jagiellonian Library Bulletin] 1972, XXII, pp. 29-32.

5 J. Pirożyński, Nieznane rozmówki polsko-niemieckie z 1 połowy XVI w. w zbiorach Herzog August Bibliothek w Wolfenbuttel [Unknown Polish-German Phrasebooks from the First Half of the 16th Century in Herzog August Bibliothek Collections in Wolfenbuttel], in: Biuletyn Biblioteki Jagiellońskiej [Jagiellonian Library Bulletin] 1980, XXX, pp. 43-67.

6 J. Pirożyński, see above, pp. 61-64.

7 Polonia typographica saeculi sedecimi, booklet V: Florian Ungler, ed. by H. Bułhak, entry 23.

8 J. Pirożyński, see above, pp. 48-49 (especially note 20).

9 A. Lewicka-Kamińska, Nauka cudna.. [Wonderful Science...]., p. 32: "There were certainly more editions of Wonderful Science, but the only known edition other than the one described above is the 1584 edition printed by Stanisław Szarffenberger. In Lelevel’s times, this edition was at the Warsaw University Library.  We owe the description to Lelevel (who had first-hand experience of the publication) originating from the now missing form which – as it seems – was a faithful reproduction of the 1544 edition.”