FRANCISCUS DE RETZA (ca. 1343-1427). Comestorium vitiorum. Nuremberg: [Johann Sensenschmidt and Heinrich Kefer for Heinrich Rummel, 14]70.
Royal 2o (404 x 290 mm). Collation: [110 212 310 4-58; 6-1010(-10, blank); 11-1410 1512(-12, blank); 16-1810 1912(-12, blank); 20-2310 248(-1, blank); 25-2810 2912] text, 5/8v blank, 29/6r index,-12 blank). 285 leaves (of 286, without final blank). 49 lines, double column. Type: 1:114G. 9-line initial space opening text, 3- and 4-line initial spaces elsewhere. 3-line title and opening initial in red with flourishes, other initials alternating in red and blue (the spaces intended for red initials designated by a brown ink mark), paragraph marks in red or blue, manuscript foliation in headline, capital strokes and underlining in red. Traces of contemporary quiring in brown ink in lower right corners of rectos. 3 pinholes per page (2 in upper margin, one in lower inner margin) visible in many sheets. (Slight dust-soiling in upper margins.)
Binding: contemporary Nuremberg blind-stamped calf over wooden boards, diapered central panel of upper cover with unicorn, double-headed eagle, bird and two floral ornament stamps, outer border of garland with tufted finials, lower cover panelled with fillets, vellum title label under horn with brass framing strips, embossed brass catches, chain staple hole at top of lower board, early paper label on front cover, later paper spine label, vellum quire guards (worn, part of horn missing, lacking ten center- and cornerpiece bosses), modern calf-backed solander box.
Provenance: Nuremberg, City Library: early armorial paper booklabel mounted in first initial space -- Albert Ehrman (1890-1969), Broxbourne Library: bookplates, monogram and pencilled notes; sale Sotheby's London, 8 May 1978, lot 396 (to Lathrop Harper).
FIRST EDITION of Franciscus' main work on the seven deadly sins and the corresponding virtues. It is the first dated book printed at Nuremberg; it appeared the same year as a small Gerson tract from the same press. Sensenschmidt, Nuremberg's prototypographer, probably learned to print at Mainz and may have worked with Pfister on the 36-line Bible at Bamberg before establishing his own shop at Nuremberg in about 1469.
There is no doubt that this volume was bound at Nuremberg, but its tools appear to belong to three different shops: the Carmelite convent (Kyriss shop 22, active ca. 1462-1491, Schwenke-Sammlung Adler 52 and 407a); the Carthusian monastery (Kyriss shop 23, Schwenke-Sammlung Blattwerk 351 and Granatapfel 112a); and the Nuremberg "Laubstab" shop (Schwenke-Sammlung, Einhorn 29 and Hirsch 20). The internal blank leaves have been cancelled, as in most copies; the intention to cancel these leaves is confirmed by the printed index, where the foliation assumes their absence.
A large, fresh copy. HC 13884*; BMC II, 403 (IC. 7003); BSB-Ink F-250; GW 10270; Goff R-150.