BERNARDUS CLARAVALLENSIS (Saint, 1090-1153). Sermones super Cantica canticorum. Rostock: Fratres Vitae Communis Domus Horti Viridis ad S. Michaelem, 28 July 1481.
Super-chancery 2o (312 x 215 mm). Collation: [14 2-258 26-276] (1/1r table, 2/1r text, 27/6r colophon and printer's device, 27/6v blank). 208 leaves. 37 lines, table in 2 columns with 60 lines. Types: 2:119G (text), 5:76G (table). Three- to eight-line initial spaces. Rubrics on 1/1r, 1/4v, 2/1r, and colophon and printer's device on 27/6r printed in red. Rubricated with red Lombard initials, capital strokes, paragraph marks and underlines. The table bound at the end. Traces of contemporary manuscript quiring in lower right corners of rectos. (Intermittent dampstains to blank margins, a few small wormholes to last leaves, a few minor stains or smudges, leaves of quire 1 strengthened at inner margin.)
Binding: contemporary blind-tooled German pigskin over wooden boards, preserving many deckle edges (repaired at top of covers and rebacked in 19th-century vellum, endleaves renewed, some small wormholes): each cover divided by double fillets into a double frame and a central field, the central panels filled with repeated impressions of a lozenge-shaped stamp of an eagle, a lozenge-shaped tool of foliage stamped in the inner frame; original brass catchplates from two clasps (straps and catches renewed).
Provenance: scattered early annotations -- Eric Sexton: bookplates; sale, Christie's New York, 8 April 1981, lot 148.
FIRST EDITION of St. Bernard's sermons on the Song of Songs, one of the great classics of medieval Latin literature and a highly important contribution to the development of a mystical theology of love. The Brothers of the Common Life at Rostock appear to have begun printing in 1476 and continued until 1529. They signed and dated two books in 1476 and the present edition of St. Bernard in 1481. Otherwise, their fifteenth-century work, apart from an indulgence of 1500, seems to be undated and anonymous. This edition of Bernard was the first edition to use their type 2, cast for them by Lucas Brandis in Lbeck.
ISTC locates only three copies in North America (Huntington Library, Library of Congress, Yale University). HC 2856; CIBN B-272; GW 3934; Goff B-427.