Our Leaf Book, Containing the Definitive Work on Italy's First Printers


(McMinnville: Printed by the Bird & Bull Press for Phillip J. Pirages, 1991). 235 x 159 mm. (9 1/4 x 6 1/4"). 131 pp. FIRST EDITION. ONE OF 233 COPIES (of 241 total).

A Campbell-Logan Co. binding of purple quarter morocco, using marbled papers especially designed for this edition by Iris Nevins. Text with four nine-line initials in red and blue (replicating 15th century rubrication), two pages of typographic facsimiles. ACCOMPANIED BY A LARGE FOLIO SWEYNHEYM & PANNARTZ LEAF from the 1471 printing of Nicholas of Lyra's "Postilla super totam Bibliam." The book and leaf (which is secured behind a hinged cloth mat) housed in an impressive (15 1/2 x 11 3/4") navy blue folding cloth box constructed of acid-free materials by Jace Graf of Cloverleaf Studio. Title page printed in black, red, and blue. De Hamel "Disbound and Dispersed" 40. In mint condition.

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 scholarly work is the first book to create from the available information a broadly based and detailed picture of the activities of these two printers. The book 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 volume is printed on luxurious mould made Frankfurt paper by Henry Morris at the Bird & Bull Press, for more than 40 years one of America's most distinguished private presses. The 14 1/2 x 10 1/2" leaves are in excellent 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 work and the book arts 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.