A Counter-Reformation Defense of Transubstantiation in a Binding that Offers Insight into 16th Century Book Production


(Antverpiae [Antwerp]: Apud Martini Nutii viduam, 1563). 180 x 105 mm. (7 x 4 1/4"). 8 p.l., 227, [12] leaves.

VERY FINE CONTEMPORARY BLIND-STAMPED CALF, covers with multiple frames of thick and thin rules and a medallion roll signed with the monogram of the Meisters NP, central panel with roll featuring Fides, Lucretia, Prudence, and Venus, also signed "NP," raised bands, paper label with ink titling, brass catchplates (clasps lacking).
Printer's device on title page. Title page with red ink library stamp of Seminaire de N. D. du Puy. Tail edge of front board with tiny patch of lost patina from insect activity, short crack to leather on rear board, isolated faint foxing, otherwise a fine copy, clean and crisp internally, in a lustrous binding with few signs of wear.

The masterpiece of Counter-Reformation writer Jean Garet (or Garetius), this defense of transubstantiation is in an attractive binding that offers us insight into the world of making books in the 16th century. Garet (d. 1571) was an Augustinian canon in Belgium who worked tirelessly to defeat Protestantism, writing and preaching in passionate defense of traditional Catholic teachings. In this work, first published in 1561, he cites patristic texts to prove the real presence of Christ in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. Our binding is decorated with rolls by one of the most prolific stamp cutters in 16th century Germany: known as the Meisters NP for the monogram with which they signed their tools, they were active in Germany from 1549 to the mid 1560s. Haebler and other scholars have identified 30 rolls with this monogram that were used by binderies in Switzerland, the Low Countries, and various parts of Germany; however, they have been unable to uncover the identity of the artisan[s] or the place where the business was located. As Goldschmidt observes, "although we know nothing about N. P.'s name, personality, or domicile, his activity is proof of the far-reaching specialisation that had developed in the production of binders' tools by the middle of the 16th century. Obviously, the yearly Frankfurt Fair and other similar institutions helped to secure a world-wide sale for books as well as for the accessories of the book trade."