(Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 17 July 1486). 234 x 170 mm. (9 1/4 x 6 5/8").  leaves (without initial blank). Single column, 52 lines, gothic type.Edited by Nicolaus von Wyle. Second Koberger Edition.
19th century half sheepskin over paste-paper boards, raised bands, spine panels with blind-stamped floral sprig at center, one green and one ivory morocco label. First page with two early ink signatures; occasional neat contemporary marginalia. Goff P-719; BMC II, 430; ISTC ip00719000. Leather a bit stained, extremities somewhat rubbed, a couple of small abrasions to paper boards, but the binding entirely sound and not displeasing. First two leaves with repairs to margins (not affecting text), persistent dampstain to lower fore-edge quadrant of leaves, generally light, but more noticeable in first and last quires, occasional minor marginal smudges or light foxing, otherwise a very good copy internally, generally clean and fresh, with comfortable margins.
Containing an infamous erotic epistolary novel and more than 400 letters by Pope Pius II, this voluminous work is a valuable repository of information about the life and times of one of the most intriguing figures of the Renaissance. Born to a noble family but lacking in material wealth, Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (1405-64) took an unconventional path to the priesthood. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "he gave himself up to diligent study and the free enjoyment of sensual pleasures," travelling widely, pursuing humanistic interests, and fathering at least two illegitimate children along the way. In 1446 Piccolomini was moved to mend his ways and join the Church, rising to the rank of cardinal in 1456 and pope in 1458. Piccolomini was a prolific writer throughout most of his adult life (both before and during his reign as pope), and the present volume preserves a substantial portion of his epistles (including letters to notable figures such as Pope Callixtus III and Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III), papal bulls, and his thoughts on various ecclesiastical and religious matters; also present are a few short works by other humanist writers of the period. Of particular note is the editor's inclusion of "De Duobus Amantibus" ["Tale of Two Lovers"], an early epistolary novel with fairly explicit erotic imagery, written around 1444, before Piccolomini had joined the priesthood. The presence of this section in our copy is fortunate: auction records indicate that previous owners were inclined to excise this racy material. First printed in 1476 by Johann Veldener, the "Epistolae" is offered here in its second of three Koberger editions. A former goldsmith from a prominent family of artisans, Anton Koberger (ca. 1440-1513) was undoubtedly the most prosperous member of the Renaissance printing trade. He established his press in Nuremberg in 1472 and quickly became one of the most prolific printers in the business, outstripping Schoeffer of Mainz by 1480. He produced about 200 works by 1500, including the most famous illustrated work of the era, the "Nuremberg Chronicle." Although most of his books have Nuremberg imprints, Koberger had books printed for him at several other locations, and he had sales outlets from Paris and Lyon to Budapest and Warsaw. (CEH1912)
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PJP Catalog: 76.032