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De laude scriptorum pulcherimus tractatus. S.l.n.d. [at colophon] : Mainz, Peter von Friedberg, 1494. In-4, fawn calf on aisle, set of cold fillets drawing compartments, which are decorated with various irons (medallion with rose, lamb, dragon, etc.), phylacteries with mention maria, spine with five nerves, one brass clasp (Period binding).
GW, M47538. - H, 15617. - Goff, T442.
First edition of this famous apology for the art of monk copyists and manuscripts.
Born in Trittenheim near Trier in 1462, Johannes Trithemius, humanist, historian and kabbalist, was abbot of the Benedictines of Spanheim and later of St. James in Würzburg where he died in 1516. A great bibliophile, Trithemius collected manuscripts and incunabula: under his impulse, the Spanheim library became one of the richest and most beautiful of its time.
The De laude has been studied at length by one of the best specialists on Trithemius, Noel L. Brann, in his book The Abbot Trithemius: The Renaissance of Monastic Humanism, 1981, (pp. 142-174).
The advent of the printed word [...] fosters a sense of the upheaval of the times. There is an anxiety about the disappearance of scribal culture. His De laude scriptorum (1494) is a plea for the maintenance of the activity of copyists and the vitality of the scriptoria; the author questions the possible harmfulness of printing ink and accuses the defenders of the economic argument that print is cheaper of being lazy. [...] Trithème also worries, with a certain clairvoyance, about the losses linked to the change of medium, i.e. seeing texts that would not be considered profitable to print disappear, forgotten (cf. Yann Sordet, Histoire du livre et de l'édition, 2021).
This incunabulum is very rare: only 2 copies are listed in France (Bourges and BnF).
Marginal repair at the top of leaves a4 and a5.
Bound with 6 other incunabula editions:
- BALDUNG (Hieronymus). Aphorismi compunctionis theologicales. S.l.n.d. [on the colophon] : Strasbourg, Johann Gruninger, 1497.
GW, 3211. - HC, 2270. - Schreiber, n°3400
Original edition, decorated with 10 woodcuts whose design comes from the master of Terence, one of which is used five times.
- TRACTATUS CONTRA VICIA. [Strasbourg, Georg Husner, 1498].
GW, M50988. - H, 15594.
- TRITHEME. De operatione divini amoris. S.l.n.d. [Mainz, Peter von Friedberg, after 27 August 1497].
GW, M47559. - HC, 15636.
Missing 2 leaves.
- FRATERNITAS ROSACEAE CORONAE. Incipit liber fraternitats rosacee corone ad honorem beatissime Virginis Marie... S.l.n.d. [Cologne, Johann Landen, ca. 1500].
GW, 10313. - HC, 7356. - Schramm, VIII, n°872-876.
- DAMMONIS (Arnoldus). Sermo synodalis. S.l.n.d. [Cologne, Johann Landen, after March 9, 1500].
Extremely rare edition, of which only 4 copies are listed in public collections: 3 in Germany and one in England (cf. GW, 7900).
- PREBUSSINUS (Urbanus). Oratio mordacissima. S.l.n.d. [Strasbourg, Johann Gruninger, ca. 1500].
GW, M35268. - HC, 4006.
First edition, with a large and beautiful woodcut on the verso of the title depicting the author at prayer (cf. Schreiber, no. 3637).
Precious volume, consisting of 7 incunabula fully rubricated, in contemporary binding.
Minor flaws in binding, crack in box at foot of spine. Index of the texts contained in the volume formerly on a guard.
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