One of the treasures of the Senior Library, the Lincoln copy of the 1498 edition of Clement of Maydeston’s Directorium is the only complete copy of the book on record. It was printed by Richard Pynson (c.1449-1529/30), the Normandy-born printer, bookseller and binder who was one of the foremost London printers of the day and was appointed King’s Printer in 1506. His striking device can be seen on the verso of the last printed leaf of the book.
The copy in the Senior Library is in a style of binding common to English books of the period: it is a blind-stamped calf binding over wooden boards, the central panel decorated with a simple diaper design (diagonal lines creating a lozenge pattern) and stamped with three small ornaments, a fleur de lys, a dragon and a running stag. The binding is possibly the work of a Cambridge binder originally from Antwerp, who used these same three ornaments in other bindings. In addition, there are the remains of a metal clasp and holes on both the upper and the lower boards that show that the book would originally have been chained to the library shelves (Lincoln was one of the last Oxford colleges to abandon this practice).
The volume was given to Lincoln by Robert Field, whose inscription can be found on the last leaf: “Hic liber est Roberti Fyld.” Field was a Fellow of the College from 1502 to 1511 and Bursar in 1509 (an experience which clearly stayed with him as, in addition to this book, he bequeathed £10 to the College to provide future bursars with a working balance).