HIERONYMUS (St., c.342-420). Epistolae. Edited by Adrianus Brielis (d.1472). Mainz: Peter Schoeffer, 7 September 1470.
PRINTED ON VELLUM. 2 volumes, imperial 2° (478 x 332mm). Collation: volume I: [14, 2-510 68(7+1); 7-1910 208 216(5+1)] (1/1 introduction and register, 1/4v blank, 2-6 Distinctiones I-II; 7-12 Distinctio III; 13-16 Distinctio IV(i), 16/10v blank; 17-21 Distinctiones IV(ii)-V, 21/6v blank); volume II: [22-2410 256(5+1); 26-2810 298 306 314(3+1); 32-3410 3510(4+1, 6+1,2) 36-4210 4310(9+1)] (22-25 Distinctio VI, 25/6v blank; 26-31 Distinctiones VII-XI, 31/4v blank; 32-39 Distinctio XII(i); 40-43 Distinctio XII(ii)). 408 leaves. 56 lines, double column. Type: 5:118G. Red-printed rubric headings (except on 2/10r, where the heading is in a contemporary hand in red ink), colophon and Fust-Schoeffer device printed in red on final page. CONTEMPORARY MAINZ DECORATION AND ILLUMINATION, ASSOCIATED WITH THE SCHOEFFER PRINTING SHOP: 16-line historiated initial showing St. Jerome in his study with a full decorated border incorporating archers hunting a dragon, 8-line initials on burnished gold ground opening the 12 Distinctiones, with leafy extensions inhabited by monkeys, birds, human and fantastical figures, and gold dots, epistle initials in red, blue or interlocking red and blue with purple penwork decoration (incorporating Schoeffer device on 32/10r and figure of a man elsewhere), Distinctio letter as recto headline (A-M, O) and paragraph marks alternating red or blue; guide-letters for the headline letter in contemporary dry-point, also indicating red; 2, and possibly 3, sets of contemporary collation marks in dry-point or ink. Contemporary binder's note on front pastedown: Hic liber continet 200 folia minus duobus scripta Et 8 non scripta Que summe sunt 20 quinterni et 6 folia ("This volume contains 200 written leaves minus two and 8 unwritten leaves, which makes 20 quinternions and 6 leaves". This is almost correct, if not quite exact. (Large blank section of 30/4 and small section at upper margin of first leaf of each volume cut away without loss of text, a little vertical creasing in last leaves of first volume.) CONTEMPORARY ERFURT BINDING by the Successor to Johann Vogel: blindstamped calf over bevelled wooden boards tooled with bird, fleur-de-lis, rosette, large foliate and other stamps (Schwenke, "Lautenspieler", pl. 3 tools 1, 28 and 29; pl. 4, tool 53), chased brass center- and cornerpieces and catches, 2 fore-edge clasps, yellow edges, plain pastedowns, spine liner in vol. I from a large-format 14th-century manuscript of Bartholomaeus Anglicus, De proprietatibus rerum (clasps renewed, hinges repaired, some spine leather and one cornerpiece renewed); modern burgundy morocco-backed folding box.
Provenance: [Erfurt, Carthusian house of Mons Sancti Salvatoris (binding; 15th-century library catalogue, ed. Paul Lehmann, Mittelalterliche Bibliothekskataloge Deutschlands und der Schweiz, II, Munich: 1928, pp. 444-6, where it is described as in 2 volumes)] -- Leander Van Ess (1772-1847) -- Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872, Catalogus incunabulorum Professoris...Van Ess, no. 4) -- Rosenbach cat. 29 (1937), no. 200, $11,500; cat. 37 (1947), no. 318, $16,500; purchased by: -- Countess Estelle Doheny (1875-1958; acquired in 1949; sale, Christie's NY, 22 October 1987, lot 9).
FIRST EDITION OF THE ENLARGED RECENSION of St. Jerome's letters and tractates. The present copy is among the very finest examples from the early Mainz press and has few rivals in the quality and richness of its decoration, in the luxury of its carefully prepared vellum, and in its remarkable, original condition.
The edition was conceived as a monumental undertaking. It is one of Schoeffer's largest publications (both in number of leaves and Imperial sheet size), and its red-printed rubrics required each page to go through the press twice, printing first the text in black and second the rubrics in red. Copies were marketed at several levels of cost and completion: on paper or on vellum, with no decoration, or with decoration ranging from simple penwork to full illumination. The present copy represents the highest level of luxury. In his 1987 analysis of the illumination in the present copy, Eberhard König considered it an example of the "very rare moments [when] illumination of incunabula reach[ed] the highest artistic standards of the period" (Doheny 1987 catalogue, p. 293). He linked it closely to the Waldburg-Wolfegg Hausbuch, suggesting that the two hands he distinguished in the Jerome (one - the master - responsible for major opening, and the other responsible for the rest) may be found there, and further identifying the second Jerome artist as the same who created the best pages of the Heidelberg Virgil, "the greatest classical manuscript of late gothic Germany". Its penwork decoration is certainly associated with the Schoeffer shop (one initial reproduces the Schoeffer device), and its illumination is also certainly Mainz work, although König was led by the binding to localise the artist in Erfurt. Still-visible collation marks and rubrication guides match this copy to those at Strassburg and Wölfenbuttel, which were bound at Mainz by the same shop (Kyriss 160) that was also responsible for binding at least six other known copies.
The binding is the work of an anonymous Erfurt shop called the Successor to Johann Vogel. He was responsible for much binding work for the Erfurt Carthusians (cf. Schwenke, "Die Buchbinder mit dem Lautenspieler", Wiegendrucke und Handschriften: Festgabe Konrad Haebler, 1919, pp. 133-135). Various pieces of physical evidence (contemporary collations in one sequence, dry-point marks uniform with the Strassburg and Wölfenbuttel copies, uneven yellow-painted edges) suggest that this copy was first bound in Mainz (probably by Kyriss shop 160) and that it was rebound on its arrival in Erfurt. Monastic lection marks show that it was used for reading aloud, and its rebinding into 2 volumes would have greatly facilitated handling the weighty tome. The elaborate metal center- and cornerpieces have performed their function of protecting the covers effectively, and the tool impressions remain remarkably sharp and fresh.
Having established the Latin Vulgate in the fourth century as the standard text for the Bible and all subsequent translation, St. Jerome stands next to St. Augustine as the most important Church Father. His letters and tractates deal with a wide range of issues and controversies, and have been studied over the millenia for their application to contemporary concerns as well as their historical significance. Four previous editions had appeared between 1468 and 1470, containing between 70 and 130 letters. In contrast, Schoeffer's edition contains over 200, constituting a selection unique in the 15th century, and arranged thematically. As he stated in a printed advertisement for the edition, ecclesiastical and monastic libraries had been searched to uncover more letters and to establish an authentic canon.
Schoeffer's Jerome was a labour-intensive project. Not only did its editor, Adrianus Brielis, a Benedictine monk at nearby Mons St. Jacobi, substantially augment the printed corpus, but he oversaw extensive corrections in the text, even as printing was taking place. Two issues of the edition have long been recognised. Recent investigation by Dr. Lotte Hellinga has shown that some 150 (of 408) leaves, the majority in the second half of the book, were re-set to incorporate corrections, and she found further manuscript corrections made to the re-set sheets, thus documenting an on-going exercise of textual emendation in the printing shop. The two issues were kept distinct and are about evenly distributed between paper and vellum copies. Two states are also found for the colophon and preface, one addressed to those in holy orders and the others simply to all Christians, perhaps reflecting different intended audiences for the finished publication. The present copy belongs to Hellinga's issue "a", containing sheets with numerous manuscript corrections found in print in the second setting. Its preface is addressed to those in holy orders, appropriate to its contemporary ownership by the Erfurt Carthusians.
Vellum copies are considerably rarer than paper copies: of the 89 copies known, only 16 are on vellum. The present is a large copy, preserving (where appropriate) 2 sets of 4 pinholes, representing up to eight pulls through the press per sheet for the two-colour printing.
For her detailed research on the edition, see: Lotte Hellinga, "Editing Texts in the First Fifteen Years of Printing," New Directions in Textual Studies, eds. D. Oliphant and R. Bradford, 1990, 127-49; "Peter Schoeffer and his organization: a bibliographical investigation of the ways an early printer worked", Biblis Yearbook, ed. G. Jonsson, Stockholm: 1995-96, 67 -106; and "Peter Schoeffer and the Book-Trade in Mainz: Evidence for the Organization", Bookbindings and other Bibliophily, D.E. Rhodes, ed., 1994, pp. 131-164.) H *8554; GW 12424; BMC I, 26 (C.11.e.13,14); CIBN H-99; Polain(B) 1947; BSB-Ink. H-246; Bod-Inc. H-68; Van Praet, Vélins du Roi I, 377-378; Goff H-165. (2)