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LIBER BIBLIAE MORALIS
Deventer: Richardus Pafraet, 1477. Third Printing listed in Goff (there was also a 1477 edition in Cologne, listed fourth) n. Embellished with many especially appealing maiblumen initials, this is an extremely attractive copy of the first dated book (and the only known candidate for the first book, dated or not) to be printed at the first press in Deventer. Berchorius (Pierre Bersuire or Berchoire, ca. 1290-1362) was a renowned preacher who intended this work to be an aid to other ministers in composing sermons. First printed in Ulm in 1474 and in Strassburg the same year, the book analyzes scripture and interprets its symbolism, drawing forth the morals it is intended to teach. In addition to voluminous works on homiletics, Berchorius gained renown for translating Petrarch's edition of Livy's Roman history into French, and for reframing the works of Ovid as moralizing literature for a Christian audience. Richardus Pafraet was both the first and most productive early printer in Deventer, issuing considerably more than 100 incunables--most of them substantial tomes like the present one--and working until 1511. Understanding scholarship as well as the process of printing, Pafraet reorganized for the present edition the voluminous index of the "Liber Bibliae Moralis" that appeared in the earlier Strassburg printing. Deventer in Pafraet's time was a major trading locale as well as a center for learning, the latter fact resulting partly from the tradition established there in the 14th century by the Dutch scholar and religious reformer Geert Groote (1340-84). In 1371 Groote had founded a scriptorium in the city to allow impoverished scholars to earn a living copying texts, and this group eventually grew into the Brethren of the Common Life, a teaching order that established the first graded schooling, that had a lasting effect on the development of German humanism, and that counted among its pupils Thomas à Kempis, Nicolaus of Cusa, and Erasmus. This intellectual community with its network of schools made the city an appealing location for a printer, and Pafraet very probably chose Berchorius' text for his earliest known effort because of its appeal to the Brethren educators. The lovely initials here were executed with delicacy and taste, and do much to beautify an already attractive page. Complete copies of early printings of this work are extremely rare: besides ours, no such copy of the present 1477 edition appears in ABPC during the past 35 years (and the only earlier ABPC entries since 1975 are for three copies of the 1474 Ulm printing, the last selling in 2001).. 293 x 206 mm. (11 1/2 x 8 1/8"). 467 leaves (without the final blank). Double column, 42 lines of text, gothic type. Third Printing listed in Goff (there was also a 1477 edition in Cologne, listed fourth). Early calf in period style over (original?) wooden boards, raised bands, two 15th century brass clasps and catches (thongs missing), later red morocco label and marbled endpapers (both probably 19th century). Paragraph marks in red, capitals struck with red, numerous hand-painted two- to seven-line initials in red, and 34 VERY FINE, LARGE PUZZLE INITIALS (measuring approximately 50 mm. square) in red and blue with lovely maiblumen decoration in red, green, and occasionally orange, most with delicate red penwork extensions. Recto of front flyleaf with "£15 . 15 . 0" (no doubt a 19th century purchase price) written in pencil, verso with six lines of bibliographic notes in French written neatly in ink; first blank with three brief inscriptions, from one or more certainly 15th-century owners. Goff B-338; BMC IX, 112. Front joint beginning to crack, small chips to head and tail of spine, extremities somewhat rubbed, boards a bit marked and abraded, front hinge almost open, but the binding still sturdy, functional, and generally pleasing. Initial blank a little soiled, a handful of leaves with very faint dampstain at lower outer corner, occasional minor smudging and other trivial imperfections, but AN UNUSUALLY FINE COPY INTERNALLY--clean, bright, and exceptionally fresh, with vast margins and leaves that crackle when you turn them. Embellished with many especially appealing maiblumen initials, this is an extremely attractive copy of the first dated book (and the only known candidate for the first book, dated or not) to be printed at the first press in Deventer. Berchorius (Pierre Bersuire or Berchoire, ca. 1290-1362) was a renowned preacher who intended this work to be an aid to other ministers in composing sermons. First printed in Ulm in 1474 and in Strassburg the same year, the book analyzes scripture and interprets its symbolism, drawing forth the morals it is intended to teach. In addition to voluminous works on homiletics, Berchorius gained renown for translating Petrarch's edition of Livy's Roman history into French, and for reframing the works of Ovid as moralizing literature for a Christian audience. Richardus Pafraet was both the first and most productive early printer in Deventer, issuing considerably more than 100 incunables--most of them substantial tomes like the present one--and working until 1511. Understanding scholarship as well as the process of printing, Pafraet reorganized for the present edition the voluminous index of the "Liber Bibliae Moralis" that appeared in the earlier Strassburg printing. Deventer in Pafraet's time was a major trading locale as well as a center for learning, the latter fact resulting partly from the tradition established there in the 14th century by the Dutch scholar and religious reformer Geert Groote (1340-84). In 1371 Groote had founded a scriptorium in the city to allow impoverished scholars to earn a living copying texts, and this group eventually grew into the Brethren of the Common Life, a teaching order that established the first graded schooling, that had a lasting effect on the development of German humanism, and that counted among its pupils Thomas à Kempis, Nicolaus of Cusa, and Erasmus. This intellectual community with its network of schools made the city an appealing location for a printer, and Pafraet very probably chose Berchorius' text for his earliest known effort because of its appeal to the Brethren educators. The lovely initials here were executed with delicacy and taste, and do much to beautify an already attractive page. Complete copies of early printings of this work are extremely rare: besides ours, no such copy of the present 1477 edition appears in ABPC during the past 35 years (and the only earlier ABPC entries since 1975 are for three copies of the 1474 Ulm printing, the last selling in 2001).
      [Bookseller: Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Mediev]
Last Found On: 2016-05-23           Check availability:      Biblio    

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