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A VELLUM LEAF FROM "RATIONALE DIVINORUM OFFICIORUM
[Mainz: Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer, 1459. From the FIRST EDITION. A Vellum Leaf Printed in 1459, from theVery Rare First Extant Non-Liturgical Book. 419 x 308 mm (16 1/2 x 12 1/8"). Double column, 63 lines of text in gothic type. From the FIRST EDITION. Attractively matted. Paragraph marks in red, capitals struck with red. With some old (but not contemporaneous) inscriptions (mostly in blank margins). Goff D-403; BMC I, 20. Formerly part of a binding and so with most of one side a little browned and with traces of glue on the same side, a dozen tiny punctures (one affecting two letters on each side, the others either one letter or no text), faint folds reflecting the leaf's use as a binding liner, but still AN EXCELLENT SPECIMEN, the text entirely legible, and with one side particularly bright and clean, especially given that it is a recovered leaf. This is a leaf taken from a very rare book of great importance in the history of typography. Duranti's "Rationale" is the fourth extant printed book and the third dated book, preceded only by the Gutenberg Bible (ca. 1455) and two Latin Psalters printed by Fust and Schoeffer in 1457 and 1459. It is also the first book to be printed in a text type, the three earlier ones all being in gothic liturgical typefaces. Duranti, bishop of Mende (ca. 1230-96) was an active and highly successful churchman, a distinguished canonist and liturgist, and a person who also played an important role in the governance of the papal territories in Italy. The most complete Medieval treatise of its kind, his "Rationale" is an erudite compendium and a principal source for the history of the liturgy of the Western church. It deals with church buildings and furnishings, the Mass, the sacraments, and the Office as well as the temporal and sanctoral cycles of the ecclesiastical year, with great attention to the symbolic and mystical significance of these matters. Johann Fust (ca. 1400-66), a goldsmith, provided financial backing to Gutenberg while the latter was perfecting his new printing process. When Gutenberg was unable to repay the debt, Fust sued and was awarded Gutenberg';s equipment. Fust went into business with Peter Schoeffer (ca. 1425-1503), Gutenberg';s principal assistant, and theirs became the first commercially successful printing company. Schoeffer married Fust';s only daughter, and trained their sons as printers (his son Peter printed the first edition of Tyndale';s English New Testament). The elder Schoeffer is credited with introducing the printer';s device and with developing the basic techniques of punchcutting and type-founding. The text here is printed in Schoeffer';s "Durandus" type, a gothic-roman typeface combining elements of rotunda with the stylistic features of Italian humanist handwriting. This book is quite rare: since 1975, ABPC lists just one complete copy, two copies lacking four leaves, and two single leaves (both recovered leaves on vellum). Recovered leaves typically have text trimmed off and often illegible text, but ours has extremely ample margins, and everything is very readable.
      [Bookseller: Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Mediev]
Last Found On: 2013-07-14           Check availability:      Biblio    

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