BONAVENTURA (attributed to). Meditationes vitae Christi. Augsburg: Günther Zainer, 12 March 68.
Super-chancery 2° (290 x 215mm). Collation: [110 2-48 5-710 88] (1/1 blank, 1/2r table, 1/3r text, 8/8v colophon). 71 (or 72, without first blank) leaves, text of 1/9 printed on 1/10 and vice versa. 35 lines, table in two columns. Type: 1:117G. Opening initial in gold with orange and yellow infill and multi-colour foliate extensions, 2-line initials, paragraph marks and capital strokes in red. Variant readings on 1/3r, line 1 as GW main entry; 4/5r, line 1 as GW Anm.. Small vellum MS strips affixed at upper or lower hinge of several bifolia, the purpose of which is not clear. 20th-century brown pigskin over wooden boards stamped in blind to a gothic design, single fore-edge clasp, modern cloth box. Provenance: a few 17th/18th-century annotations (some washed) -- monastic inscription washed from first leaf -- Nuremberg, [Hieronymous] Baumgärtner (armorial bookplate, cf. Warnecke 139).
FIRST EDITION OF AN IMPORTANT DEVOTIONAL TEXT, AND THE FIRST BOOK PRINTED AT AUGSBURG. Günther Zainer and his brother Johann lived at Strassburg in the 1460s, where typographic and circumstantial evidence suggest they worked for Johann Mentelin. As Günther established the first press at Augsburg, so did Johann at Ulm. They cite their birthplace -- Reutlingen -- often in colophons and maintained close ties to that city; the paper on which Günther's first book, the present edition of Meditationes Vitae Christi, was printed is watermarked with Crossed Keys, the arms of the city.
While it incorporates a genuine Bonaventuran work, Meditationes de Passione, the Meditationes vitae Christi was written by an anonymous Tuscan friar c. 1300-1330. It was highly influential for later devotional and spiritual literature and art. It was transmitted in full and shorter versions; Zainer's first edition published the full version in 95 chapters, leaving the authorship anonymous; it was not reprinted for 17 years, but it then appeared frequently in numerous editions, all with the misattribution to Bonaventura. H *3557; GW 4739; BMC II, 315 (IB. 5402-3); BSB-Ink. B-681; CIBN B-659; Goff B-893.