BALBUS, Johannes (d.1298). Catholicon. [Strassburg: R-Press type 2 (Johann Mentelin and Adolf Rusch), not after 1475].
Imperial 2° (470 x 321mm). Collation: [1-910 108 1110 12-138 14-1810 198 20-2110 22-238 24-3110 328 33-3410 3512 368 37-4010 418 426] (1/1 blank, 1/2 Grammar, 7/7 Dictionary A-I, 24/1 Dictionary K-Z, 42/6 blank). 399 (of 400, without final blank) leaves; the first blank leaf used as front pastedown, 35/6-7 misbound as central bifolium of quire 36, the mistake noted by a contemporary reader. 65 lines, double column, some printed guide-letters in first quire. Type: 2:100G. 1-, 2-, 3-, 7- and 10-line initials and paragraph marks alternating in red and blue, opening page initials with Maiblumen infill, elaborate penwork border in blue and pink with multi-colour dots, early quiring. (Small wormholes, light browning in some sheets, blank corner torn from fo.42/3.) Contemporary ?Viennese blindtooled calf over unbevelled wooden boards, sides panelled with multiple fillets, Laubstab, 'maria', and leaf tools (not in Kyriss or Schunke, Schwenke-Sammlung), title label on front cover, vellum index tabs, vellum quire guards (worn, numerous small wormholes, lacks 2 fore-edge clasps), modern red morocco-backed solander box. Provenance: marginal annotation on 31/4 signed 'CDE' -- [Hans Deckel (collection dispersed by Antiquariat Wölfle, Munich)] -- George Abrams (booklabel, sale Sotheby's 16 November, 1989, lot 22).
Third edition of the most important Latin dictionary of the middle ages. Adolf Rusch and his father-in-law Johann Mentelin have been identified as the men behind the otherwise anonymous R-press (type 2) -- so called after the unusual R in the press's first type -- on the basis of a surviving letter from the Lübeck city council to that of Strassburg, requesting Rusch and Mentelin to return a manuscript of Vincent of Beauvais's Speculum doctrinale, which they had borrowed. The manuscript must be the exemplar for the edition of that text printed with the R-press type 2. A rubrication date in a copy of the R-press Catholicon at Freiburg-im-Breisgau of 1475 provides a terminus ante quem for the edition.
A LARGE COPY, significantly taller than the British Library copy. The early quiring retained here shows an unusual arrangement in quires 9 to 18, where, to save repeating the quire number on each leaf, a symbol was substituted. Thus quire 9, for example, is quired: 9, 2, 3, 4, 5; quire 10, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. HC 2253; BMC I, 64 (IC. 663); GW 3184; Goff B-22.