Bożena Sajna Mymer's Dictionarius... and Cotenius' Vocabulary...: Unique Editions of Much-Read Books in the Early Printed Books Collection of the National Library

The leaves are paginated (with errors): 1-6, 9 [i.e.7], 8-31, 23 [i.e.32], 33, 35, 38 [i.e.36], 37-46, 34 [i.e.47], 48; f. 34 is missing from this copy (sign. F2) as (most probably) are the two final ff. (sign. I5-6); folio 4 is slightly damaged.

Franciszek Mymer (Mymerus, born approximately 1500, died sometime after 1564) came from Lwówek Śląski and was related to the Szarfenberg family, who were well-known printers and publishers in Kraków. He began his studies at the Kraków Academy in 1519, where he was awarded his Master’s degree and then lectured on Ovid’s Tristia for one semester in 1531; however, he preferred working as an editor, especially as Maciej Szarfenberg had set up his own printing house in 1527. This is where, in 1532, Mymer published a collection of Medieval medical adages entitled Regimen sanitatis medicorum Parisiensium, accompanied by German and Polish translations of his own authorship (the Szarfenbergs printed the Regimen ... twice again, in 1543 and in 1575). He was also involved in the editing of various manuals and teaching aids for learning Latin for the printing house (an outline of grammar by M. Perotti and J. Honter, Disticha Catonis, a phrasebook by P. Mosellan and S. Heyden, and editions of texts by the classical authors Juvenal, Seneca and Plautus).1 He also prepared a Latin-German-Polish dictionary for scholarly use entitled Dictionarius trium linguarum..., which was dedicated to his pupil, Jan Boner (?-1562), the son of Seweryn Boner (1486-1549), a Kraków burgrave and Biecz castellan.

The foreword/dedication of this dictionary, bearing the date of April 19, 1528, was also included in later editions (without any changes made to the date). Such reprints were part of a widely used practice, since a dedication linking the print to a well-known, wealthy person emphasized the great value of the book.

Karol Estreicher2 mentions that the dating of the first edition of Mymer’s dictionary back to 1528, is based solely on this dedication included by the printer Jerzy Osterberger in the 1592 Königsberg edition. Estreicher did not know of any copies of the first edition and the earliest copy that he describes, based on his first-hand experience, is the Wietor edition which came out in 1541 and in which there was no dedication. In this way he made the conjecture that more of these earlier editions must have existed. This theory is borne out by the copy purchased in Vienna.

At present, the surviving copies are only single copies of different editions of the Dictionarius, and these happen to be incomplete, lacking the address of the publishing house or the date of publication, which makes a determination of the chronological order much more difficult.

Currently known editions of Mymer’s dictionary dating back to the 16th century, with the publishing house's address and a definite date of publication provided in the book, are shown in the list below:

  • Kraków, published by Maciej Szarfenberg, 1530. 8vo. – the only known copy, found in the Library of the Academy of Sciences in Kiev, has recently been described by Margarita Szamraj3 (not registered in Bibliografia Polska by Karol Estreicher)
  • Kraków, published by Hieronim Wietor, 1541. 8vo. – the central catalogue currently lists three copies (E.XXII, 659 ; XV.201)
  • Kraków, published by the Szarfenberg heirs, 1550. 8vo. – the only known copy is kept in the Kórnik Library (E.XXII, 659 ; XV, 201)
  • Kraków, published by Łazarz Andrysowic, 1555. 8vo. – the central catalogue does not list any copies of this edition; we only know of it from a reference by Karol Estreicher (E.XV, 202), who did not have first-hand experience of the book, however, and thus might have been referring to Murmeliusz’s Dykcjonarz [Dictionary]. The Latin-German-Polish Dictionarius Ioannis Murmelii variarum rerum, just like Mymer’s dictionary, was arranged by themes, with the difference that Murmeliusz added grammatical information next to the Latin headwords; both dictionaries were published in Kraków by the same printing houses and at the same time.4
  • Königsberg, Jan Daubmann, 1558. 8vo – according to KVK5 the only known copy is kept in the University Library in Halle (not registered in Bibliografia polska by Karol Estreicher)
  • Königsberg, Jan Daubmann, 1570. 8vo – the only known copy is kept in the Library in Wolfenbüttel6 (not registered in Bibliografia polska by Karol Estreicher )
  • Königsberg, Jerzy Osterberger, 1592. 8vo – the only known is kept in the Princes Czartoryski Library (E. XXII, 659).

In addition to the above, we know of two more copies of Mymer’s dictionary, which are very similar to one another in editorial terms, both printed by Maciej Szarfenberg and, much to our regret, both having defects, lacking the dates of publication.

The first of these is a specimen from the University Library in Uppsala described by Józef Trypućk and originating from the collection of the Jesuit College in Braniewo,7 which is missing its title page and the beginning of the dedication (there is an incomplete dedication on the reverse of this page). The next page to have survived (sign. A2) contains the final part of the dedication, dated April 19, 1528. The copy from Uppsala was considered to be the only copy of the first edition printed in 1528 or slightly later,8 due to this very date in the foreword/dedication, which was also included in other editions.9 The address of the publishing house for this edition, Impressum Cracouie in officinal Matthie Scharfenberg opera atq[ue] diligentia no[n] vulgari, was added by the printer on the back (in the colophon): the date might have been placed in the title page. The edition has 48 folios long (signatures A-B8, C-H4, I8), the first folio is missing (A1), and the foliation (with errors): 2-8, 9, 10-29, 29, 30-31, 31, 32-44, 2.

1 Polski słownik biograficzny [Polish Biographical Dictionary], vol. XXII. Wrocław 1977, pp. 357-358 (entry by H. Barycz).

2 K. Estreicher, Bibliografia polska [Polish Bibliography], vol. 22. Kraków 1908, pp. 659-660.

3 Katalog paleotipov iż fondov Central'noj naucnoj biblioteki im. V. I. Vernadskogo NAN Ukrainy, ed. by  M. A. Samraj with the participation of B. V. Granovski and I. B. Torbakov. Kiev 1995, entry 1847.

4 E. Kędelska, Łacińsko-polskie słowniki drukowane pierwszej połowy XVI wieku i ich stosunek do źródeł czeskich [Printed Latin-Polish Dictionaries in the First Half of the 16th Century and their Relation to Czech Sources]. Wrocław 1986, pp. 75-76. The author discusses the relationship between Mymer’s dictionary and Murmeliusz’s dictionary, mentioning that "the subsequent editions of the dictionaries [...] – especially those that were later editions – are sometimes mixed up by bibliographers" (cf. also notes 112-113 ibid on p. 76). The doubts concerning the authorship of the dictionaries (Dictionarium trium linguarum, Nomenclator trilinguis) published in the 17th century under Murmeliusz’s name were noted by Estreicher, Bibliografia polska [Polish Bibliography], vol. 22. Kraków 1908, pp. 659 and 635. In his work Wokabularze ryskie na tle XVI- i XVII-wiecznej leksykografii polskiej [Vocabularies from Riga Against the Background of 16th- and 17th- Century Polish Lexicography], Warszawa 2000, pp. 60-74, W. Gruszczyński established that in reality, apart from the 1615(?) edition, these were reprints of P. Artomiusz’s Nomenclator  (first published in Toruń by Andrzej Koteniusz in 1591).

5 Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog online - KVK (

6 M. Gołuszka, M. Malicki, Polnische Drucke und Polonica 1501-1700. Katalog der Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbuttel. - Druki polskie i polonica 1501-1700. Collection Catalogue of Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbuttel 1:1500-1600, München 1992, entry P 695.

7 J. Trypućko, Polonica vetera Upsaliensia. Catalogue des imprimés polonais ou concernant la Pologne des XVe, XVIe, XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles conserves a la Bibliotheque de l'Université Royale d'Upsala, Uppsala 1958, entry 1777.

8 J. Trypućko, see above, entry 1777; Słownik polszczyzny XVI wieku. [The Dictionary of the 16th Century Polish Language]. Wrocław-Warszawa-Kraków 1966, vol. 1, p. LXXXVIII; E. Kędelska, Łacińsko-polskie słowniki... [Latin-Polish Dictionaries….], pp. 64-67; W. Gruszczyński, Dwa najstarsze słowniki polskie w wydaniu faksymilowym [The Two Oldest Polish Dictionaries in Facsimile Editions] In: W. Walecki (ed.), Dictionarius Ioannis Murmelii variarum rerum; [Francisci Mymeri] Dictionarium trium linguarum, „Biblioteka Tradycji Literackich, Die Bibliothek der Literarischen Traditionen" [The Library of Literary Traditions] No. 13 A and B Kraków 1997, pp. [120-122]; this edition contains the facsimile of Mymer’s dictionary made from the Uppsala copy.

9 Among the editions which are expressly dated, the dedication appears in the 1530 edition and 1592 edition; it is missing from the 1541 and 1550 editions. The descriptions of the 1558 and 1570 editions do not provide this information.