(Cologne: Conrad Winters de Homborch, ca. 1481-82). 305 x 215 mm. (12 x 8 1/2").  leaves. Double column, 41 lines, gothic type.
Early 20th century stiff vellum with yapp edges, smooth spine, black morocco label. Capitals struck in red, numerous one- and two-line initials and quite a few four- to five-line initials (some decorative) in red, several unusual capital "I" initials in the shape of scaly fish dangling on a hooked line, all between about one and three inches long. With several leather tabs protruding from fore edge for ease of reference; some contemporary manuscript signatures on the lower corners; final page with an ownership notation in red. Goff H-203; BMC I, 251; ISTC ih00203000. Vellum very lightly soiled and with a slight tendency to splay, but the binding solid and convincingly antique. Contents with scattered marginal smudges and occasional small stains, a couple leaves with larger but very light stains in the text (not affecting legibility), one leaf with two noticeable repairs to the gutter (text unaffected), but overall in excellent condition, the text with ample margins and pleasing rubrication and with nothing approaching a serious defect.
In appealing condition and containing some unusual rubrication, this is a rare edition of St. Jerome's popular hagiography of the Desert Fathers, composed in the late fourth century A.D. and first printed in 1474. One of the four great Latin Doctors of the Church, Hieronymus, or Jerome (ca. 347-420) spent two years as a hermit in the desert, an experience that perhaps led to his interest in the early Christian ascetics of Egypt. This work contains his lives of St. Paul the Hermit, Hilarion, and Malchus, as well as a history of Egyptian monks long attributed to Jerome, but in fact a translation of a Greek work done by his friend Rufinus. Although little is known about the printer Conrad Winters, Pollard tells us that he printed about 60 works between 1475 and 1482. According to Haebler, Winters might well have trained with Cologne proto-printer Ulrich Zell, because their typefaces are so similar. The present work contains no colophon and is listed as undated in some bibliographies, but Goff assigns this edition a date of about 1481-82, noting two earlier editions by the same printer dated 1480 and (most likely) 1479. The final page of our work contains a red ink ownership note in Latin dated 1483 on the day of St. Mark (i.e., April 25), indicating that it once belonged to a certain Theobald of St. Baudalino in Cologne. This work is extremely rare on the market. We were able to trace no sale records for this edition during the past century, and a total of only two auction results for the two earlier editions by this printer. (CEH1920)
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PJP Catalog: 76.030