(Rome: Conradus Sweynheym and Arnoldus Pannartz, 1470). 394 x 277 mm. (15 1/2 x 11"). Single column, 46 lines in roman type.
Attractively matted. WITH A LARGE (40 x 50 mm.), LOVELY WHITE VINE-STEM INITIAL IN COLORS AND BURNISHED GOLD, with graceful marginal extensions. Goff A-1232; BMC IV, 10; ISTC ia01232000; PMM 3 (1467 printing). Faint dampstain at lower left (well away from text), but A BEAUTIFUL LEAF, clean, fresh, and bright with generous margins, the gold initial gleaming.
This is a lovely leaf from the fourth printing of one of the world's most influential theological works, issued by the prototypographers of Rome. 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. In 1467, they issued the first printing of St. Augustine's "City of God"--a work that PMM says "pervaded the whole Middle Ages" and "remained authoritative until the 17th and 18th centuries"--from their Subiaco press. Our leaf, printed in their stately roman type, is enhanced with a very fine illuminated initial in the elegant Italian white-vine style, with rich, jewel-tone colors and thickly applied burnished gold that still gleams brightly. The contrast between the whiteness of the leaf and the richness of the initial's paint and gold makes this a memorable artifact from the first printers in Rome. (ST16379-202)
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PJP Catalog: 78.062