(Heidelberg: [Printer of Lindelbach (Heinrich Knoblochzer)], 21 January 1485). 305 x 210 mm. (12 x 8 1/2"). 286 unnumbered leaves, including the terminal blank. 46 lines and headline, double column, gothic type. FIRST PRINTING.
IN A CONTEMPORARY REDDISH-BROWN LEATHER BINDING OVER THICK UNBEVELLED BOARDS, EXECUTED AT SAINT PETER'S ABBEY IN SALZBURG, diapered covers with circular, rhomboid, and peltate stamps of the Paschal Lamb, the attributes of the four Evangelists, rosettes, other floral and vegetal forms, etc. within and at the intersections of the diapers (the stamps on the upper board different from those on the lower), thick raised bands, two clasps (the brass hardware original, the leather portions renewed), vellum liners (made from a substantial fragment of a leaf from an 11th century German gradual) guarding the first and last gatherings; expertly rebacked to style (and with one corner recovered) by Courtland Benson. Paragraph marks and frequent two- to four-line initials painted in red or green, eight-line maiblumen "S" in both colors at beginning of text. Title page with manuscript ownership inscription of the Abbey of St. Peter; bookplate of Albert Ehrman pasted to inside front and rear covers (and with his small stamped cipher inside the back cover). Goff H-513 (under Hugo de Prato Florido); BMC III, 666; ISTC ih00513000. Covers a bit marked and dried, some wear along edges, the stamps with varying degrees of clarity, but the very skillfully restored binding entirely solid and retaining much of its original appeal. Intermittent minor foxing, a handful of leaves in the final three gatherings with overall light browning, minor browning (especially at edges, but occasionally more generally) affecting the text elsewhere--though never seriously, a solitary tiny round wormhole in margin of second half of the volume, but still a pleasing, well-margined copy internally, the leaves entirely clean and (except at the very end) consistently fresh.
This is a distinguished copy, in a binding of very considerable interest, of the first printing of a collection of sermons on the lives of the saints, and the first substantial book to be printed in Heidelberg, preceded only by a six-page pamphlet (1482) and a 16-leaf Kalendar (1483), both attributed by ISTC to our printer. We know from its decoration that it was bound at the Benedictine abbey of St. Peter in Salzburg, and it was later in the library of one of the great 20th century collectors of early printing. The text was attributed in the 15th century to the Dominican Hugo de Prato Florido (his name appears in the book's colophon), but the author has since been identified as the French Augustinian Evrardus de Valle Scholarum. In the third quarter of the 13th century, Evrardus studied theology at Paris, where he might have known Aquinas and Bonaventura. He later joined the newly established congregation of the so-called Valley of Scholars, became its Prior probably in the 1260s, and evidently died after 1280. Printing came to Heidelberg surprisingly late, given the fact that nearby Nuremberg was issuing books at the end of the 1460s, and such lesser places as Lauingen, Merseburg, Blaubeuren, and Memmingen had printers at work in the 1470s. There has been some debate over exactly who printed this book, but ISTC now identifies the aritsan previously known as the "Printer of the Lindelbach" as Heinrich Knoblochtzer, who had issued some three dozen books in Strassburg, beginning in 1476, before coming to Heidelberg, apparently establishing the first press there. With the aid of Peter Wind's thorough scholarly monograph "Die Verzierten Einbände der Handscriften der Erzabtei St. Peter zu Salzburg bis 1600," we are able to attribute our striking binding to the celebrated Saint Peter's Abbey in Salzburg. No fewer than 17 stamps on our volume match those reproduced on pp. 22-34 of Wind's text (see as especially prominent stamps Nos. 170, 313, 322, 327, 331, 386, 389-93, and 402). Saint Peter's houses the oldest library in Austria, counting among its 800 manuscripts the "Verbrüderungsbuch," given in 784 by Bishop Virgil. The provenance of the present item was further distinguished by its residence in the famous Broxbourne library of Albert Ehrman (1890-1969), a diamond merchant who gathered a fine collection of books--particularly incunabula and early bindings--at his home at Broxbourne in Hertfordshire. Feather says that "his collecting was intelligent and scholarly, for he sought to illustrate the history of printing and the book trade, and the early development of trade binding." Ehrman also authored learned articles on fine bindings and the history of printing. Apart from its content, its place in printing history, and its provenance, the physical volume itself here is of more than usual interest because the absence of pastedowns allows us to see the five hollowed-out horizontal channels (about 40 mm. long) containing the wooden pegs that have been driven in at the outer end of the channel to hold the thick cords in place. In its present state, then, the volume represents an excellent tool for the visual exposition of 15th century binding technology. The beautifully written partial leaf from an 11th century German gradual appears to have text mostly from Psalm 139, and is probably part of the service for Maundy Thursday. (ST12826)
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PJP Catalog: 73.002