(McMinnville: Printed by the Bird & Bull Press for Phillip J. Pirages, 1991). Book: 235 x 159 mm. (9 1/4 x 6 1/4"). Leaf: 372 x 265 mm. (14 1/2 x 10 1/2"). 131 pp. ONE OF EIGHT SPECIAL COPIES (of 241 total), this one THE AUTHOR'S OWN COPY (see note laid in at front of text).
A DELUXE COPY BOUND BY BERNARD MIDDLETON IN ELABORATELY BLIND-STAMPED GOATSKIN in the style of a 15th century Roman binding. Opening of text with a very fine eight-line initial "E" painted in blue and embellished with red penwork. ACCOMPANIED BY A LARGE FOLIO SWEYNHEYM & PANNARTZ LEAF from the 1471 printing of Nicholas of Lyra's "Postilla super totam Bibliam," featuring the initial "E" replicated at the opening of the text here. The book and leaf (which is secured behind a hinged cloth mat) contained in an impressive (15 1/2 x 11 3/4") navy blue folding cloth box constructed of acid-free materials by Nancy Cuthbert. This portfolio box contained within a slightly larger clamshell box made from the same materials. Title page printed in black, red, and blue. In mint condition.
This is the world's most desirable copy of the first work to provide a broadly based and detailed picture of the activities of the first printers in Italy, a volume distinguished in three ways: by being one of just eight special copies in a deluxe elaborately blind-stamped replica binding, by containing a boldly rubricated leaf, and especially by coming from the author's own bookshelf. A retired professor of Medieval History at Wayne State University, Edwin Hall is a scholar-collector of the first order whose deep understanding of and appreciation for early printing have made this production an essential item for anyone wanting to know about the early spread of the new technology that revolutionized learning in the 15th century. Aside from Gutenberg and his immediate associates, there are no figures more important in the early history of printing than Sweynheym and Pannartz, the earliest printers outside Germany. First at Subiaco and later in Rome, they produced an imposing catalogue of first editions of ancient authors, which for the first time systematically exploited the potential of the new technology as a means for disseminating humanistic texts to a large audience. The present item examines in a full and careful way their lives and achievements within the context of their newly developed craft as well as the humanistic environment they encountered in Rome in the 1460s and 1470s. In the process of his account, Professor Hall challenges a number of widely held assumptions about the origins of printing in Italy. The book is printed on luxurious mould-made Frankfurt paper by Henry Morris at the Bird & Bull Press, for half a century one of America's most distinguished private presses. The 14 1/2 x 10 1/2" leaves, which were purchased as a disbound and discontinuous fragment of one volume of Lyra's five-volume work, are in remarkably bright and fresh condition, and they show to good advantage the famous and beautiful type Sweynheym and Pannartz first used in 1467, recognized now as the earliest truly roman font. Even though Sweynheym and Pannartz produced more than 50 different editions, their press runs were normally only 275 copies. Consequently, their books are now very rare, and complete copies are extravagantly priced. The present leaf book offers an uncommon opportunity for research libraries as well as collectors interested in early printing or in private press books to obtain an example of the work of Sweynheym and Pannartz in a form that is handsomely produced and at the same time not prohibitively expensive. (CEH1918)
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PJP Catalog: 76.039