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The Book of St Albans

Tudor colour printing

The publication known as the Book of St Albans is famous for its lists, including the first printed lists of recognised breeds of dogs and of collective nouns (e.g., ‘a Gagle of gees’/a gaggle of geese and ‘a Superfluyte of Nunnys’/a superfluity of nuns). The list of the ‘blasing of arms’, or heraldic devices, in the third section is extensively illustrated with the first images printed in colour in England.

It has long been accepted that no images were printed in colour in England for the following 250 years, when technological advances in the approach to the Industrial Revolution made the production of colour-printed images commercially viable. But even though the exact working methods are unknown, the Book of St Albans should be considered as having the first, not the only, images printed in colour in Tudor England.