Three Very Rare First Printings in Fine 15th Century Pig, Including the Wide-Ranging "On the Universe," with Discussions of Medieval Magic and Pseudo-Science


(Nuremberg: Georg Stuchs, 1497; Hagenau: H. Gran, 1497). 300 x 195 mm. (11 3/4 x 8"). Complete. [1 title page], cl [110] leaves; [4], cxxxii [132] leaves; [1 title], XXXIX [39], [1], 1 blank leaves. Three separately published works in one volume. EDITIO PRINCEPS of first two works; FIRST EDITION of third work.

Contemporary blind-stamped half pigskin over wooden boards by the Benedictine monastery in Weingarten (Kyriss workshop 34; EBDB w007757) , raised bands, contemporary (faded) ink lettering and later (19th century?) library label on spine, one (of two) brass clasps. Front cover and front pastedown with ink signature "Hochraut." Goff G-717; BMC II 470; ISTC ig00717000. Goff G-723; BMC II 470; ISTC ig00716500. Goff S-865; BMC III 685; ISTC is00865000. ◆Pigskin a little soiled, three shallow scratches to rear wooden board, occasional faint marginal dampstains, otherwise only trivial imperfections--AN ESPECIALLY FINE COPY, clean, fresh, and bright with wide margins, in a very well-preserved unsophisticated period binding.

This beautifully preserved sammelband contains the first appearances of three important works by scholastic theologians that take on subjects notably outside the usual realms of theology. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, William of Auvergne, Bishop of Paris (ca.1180/90 - 1249) "was one of the first wave of thinkers in the Latin West to engage with the writings on natural philosophy and metaphysics by Greek, Islamic and Jewish thinkers that had recently become available in Latin translation." While concerned about the danger these "heathen" texts posed to Christianity, "he recognized their philosophical value and, though often confused about their meaning, incorporated their teachings into his own thought." DSB considers William "the first great scholastic, setting the stage for Alexander of Hales, Albertus Magnus, and their disciples." The present volume begins with two of the seven parts of William's magnum opus, "Magisterium Divinale et Sapientiale." "De Universo" ("On the Universe") addresses the nature, origins, and future of the corporeal universe as well as the theological question of Providence, or God's governance of it. DSB notes its importance to the history of cosmology, describing it as "an intermediary between the early medieval writings on cosmology of Isidore of Seville and Bede and the great encyclopedias of Vincent of Beauvais and Albertus Magnus later in the century. . . . It is of considerable value for its accounts and critiques of medieval magic and so-called experimental science." Ziegenfuss considers William "the first scholastic to develop a cosmology independent of theology." In "De Sacramentis," William addresses the seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation (also called Penance), Anointing of the Sick, Matrimony, and Holy Orders. The section on Matrimony is of particular interest for the insight it provides on Jewish, Islamic, and Christian marriage in the Middle Ages, as William examines the differences in the institution itself and its ceremonies in the various faiths. The final text here is the first published work of Konrad Sumerhart (ca. 1458-1502) and one of the first printed works on the practice of tithing, or donating one-tenth of one's income to the church. A professor of theology at the University of Tübingen and a specialist on economic ethics, Sumerhart argues here that there is no obligation to tithe based on divine law—a controversial view, as tithes sustained religious organizations at all levels. The book was issued by the first printer in the Alsace town of Hagenau, Heinrich Gran (fl. 1489-1523), who produced more than 213 titles, most of them works of theology. Our volume was bound at the Imperial Abbey of Weingarten, a Benedictine community founded in the 12th century that had also produced fine illuminated manuscripts. All three works are very rare in the marketplace: ABPC and RBH record just one other copy of the editio princeps of "De Universo" at auction since 1975, and it was incomplete; no other copies of "De Sacramentis" or the Sumerhart work have been offered at auction during that time. Apart from its content, this is a handsome 15th century volume in remarkable contemporary condition.

Price: $35,000.00