During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, books were valuable goods in that they were expensive to purchase. One source mentions that one book was worth as much as a farm. Being portable, books were easily subject to theft. To prevent such occurrences, churches and schools developed a system of chaining books to tables, desks and lecterns in such a way that they could be read, but not taken away.
This book still has its sixteenth-century chain of eight links that is connected to a hasp, itself attached to the rear wooden cover. The book appears to have been owned privately before it ended up as part of the collection of the English parochial library in Ecclesfield, Yorkshire, which probably added the chain. Grand Valley State University Libraries purchased the volume in 2011, and it can be viewed and studied at Special Collections & University Archives.
Suetonius Tranquillus, Gaius. Vitae XII Caesarum. With commentary by Marcus Antonius Sabellicus.
Added texts: Marcus Antonius Sabellicus, Epistola Augus-tino Barbadico and Vita Suetonii. Ausonius, Versus. Sicco Polentonus, De Suetonio.
Milan: Uldericus Scinzenzaler, 19 November 1491.
Folio. Collation: a-f8 g-h10 i-m8 n-r6 s8 (-s8 [blank])
Suetonius, a Roman historian, was born ca. AD 70 and died sometime after 130. He was a contemporary of Tacitus, another Roman historian, and friends with Pliny the Younger. Suetonius was a prolific writer, but his most famous work is Lives of the Twelve Caesars. It has always been a popular work, although it concentrates on personalities and ignores the generalities of the times and society, and perhaps relies too much on gossip, scandal, and amusing anecdotes. No fewer than thirteen editions were printed in the fifteenth century.