ISIDORUS HISPALENSIS (ca. 560-636). Etymologiae. [Augsburg:] Günther Zainer, 19 November 1472.
Chancery 2o (295 x 220 mm). Collation: [14; 210(6+1) 3-1310 148(+-3; 3+1) 15-2410 258; 2610 2710(9+2)] table, 1/4v blank; text,r colophon,v blank). 263 leaves (of 264, lacking, supplied in contemporary manuscript). 38 lines, the table in double column. Type: 3:107R. Three full-page woodcuts on 14/5v and 14/6r-v, small woodcut map on 19/7v, the woodcuts FINELY COLORED BY A CONTEMPORARY HAND, probably by the rubricator, in red, green, and blue. Small woodcut mathematical and lunar symbols in text on2 and 6/8r, highlighted in red. 3-, 5- 6- and 7-line initial spaces, printed guide-letters in quires 23-25 only; spaces for Greek words in the text. Rubricated: marginal headings to table in red, running titles and flourished red Lombard initials in red in books I-VI (through quire 10), initials alternately red, green, and occasionally blue thereafter, many elegantly flourished, some with Maiblumen infill in a contrasting color (red or green), two (24/9v and) with grotesque profiles; paragraph marks, capital strokes, some manuscript guide-letters in red (a few guide-letters in brown ink). Initialed by the rubricator "N M" at end of table. The table with printed word "Finit" as in BMC IB. 5440. Line of blind bearer type at foot of 9/5v. Offsetting from a printed sheet on. The 4-leaf table (quire 1) bound at end. (Lacking fol., supplied in manuscript as above,and10 strengthened at hinges, tree of consanguinity woodcut slightly cropped at top, occasional light soiling, minor staining to last 2 leaves of table, 2 or 3 small marginal tears or paper flaws, occasional offsetting of rubrication.)
Binding: contemporary South German pink-stained alum-tawed deerskin over unbevelled wooden boards, covers panelled and divided into a saltire pattern by intersecting triple fillets, two original chased brass fore-edge catchplates on upper cover, nail-bosses for clasps on lower cover (without the clasps and 10 metal corner and center-piece bosses), contemporary vellum manuscript title label on upper cover, vellum index tabs, 19th-century paper title and shelf-mark labels on spine (2 of 3 detached); formerly chained, hole for chaining hasp at top of lower cover (rubbed, occasional small losses to leather); folding cloth case.
Provenance: Abraham Glückh of Siebenkirchen (Septem ecclesiae): inscription and long note commending this text to the reader, dated from Stams, 16 November 1549, on front flyleaf -- a few interlinear and marginal notes and corrections -- Stams, Cistercians: later 16th or 17th-century inscription on first leaf -- Donaueschingen, Court Library, Princes of Fürstenberg: inkstamps, sale Sotheby's London, 1 July 1994, lot 166 (to Quaritch).
FIRST EDITION of Isidore of Seville's popular encyclopedic dictionary. Although entirely derivative, being based principally on late Latin compendia, the Etymologiae provided to medieval and Renaissance scholars a valuable single source of late classical scientific knowledge and lexicography. "An encyclopedic dictionary is too disconnected to present a scientific world view; but Isidore carefully and quite accurately preserved much of the scientific lore current late in the Roman period, when original work had long since ceased and facility in Greek had perished. If he was no Aristotle, he was a great improvement on Pliny, and his scientific content compares very favorably with that of Lucretius" (DSB). Treated are mathematics, astronomy, geography, metereology, geology, botany, agriculture, human anatomy and medicine.
This is the first book printed in Zainer's roman type, which he had used previously only in a broadside calendar printed at the end of 1471 (GW 1293). The woodcut illustrations show trees of consanguinity and affinity and a large diagram of family relationships in the form of a wheel. Of greatest interest is the small mappa mundi cut, which is THE FIRST PRINTED MAP. It is the most rudimentary of T-O maps, a type which originated in the 5th century B.C., and was perpetuated, in a Christianized version, in manuscripts of the Etymologiae from the 8th century. In this basic type the disc of the world is divided into three zones separated by a T-shaped Mediterreanean Sea, with Asia uppermost, and Europe and Africa in the two lower sections, the whole circumscribed by the world ocean. Each continent bears the additional name of the son of Noah who was said to have settled it.
In this edition chapter 3 in Book 1, "De latinis litteris," is erroneously repeated in place of the very short text of chapter 14, "De voce," necessitating the addition to quire 2 of an inserted 11th leaf. Victor Scholderer concluded from this fact that Zainer must have used a faulty manuscript as copy-text for the edition, and that the edition must therefore have preceded Johann Mentelin's correctly printed undated Strassburg edition (Goff I-182; Scholderer, "Notes on Early Augsburg Printing," Fifty Essays, p. 233)
The rubrication of this copy, with its green initials, Maiblumen infill and exuberant flourishes, is characteristic of early Augsburg book decoration: it resembles in style though not in execution the decoration of several copies of books from the press of Johann Schüssler, Augsburg's second printer (cf. lot 69, also lots 90 and 123 of the George Abrams collection, Sotheby's London, 16 November 1989, and lot 44 in the Nakles sale, Christie's New York 17 April 2000).
Fol. of this copy was carefully replaced, almost certainly at the time of binding, by a manuscript leaf containing the proper text (most of chapter 25 and the beginning of chapter 26, Book 5), written in an attractive late 15th-century German cursive book hand. The conjugate leaf is intact and correctly printed on both recto and verso; it is likely that the leaf was removed because of a defect incurred soon after printing.
H 9273*; BMC II, 317 (IB. 5440-5440a); BSB-Ink. I-627; Campbell Maps, 77; CIBN I-67; Harvard/Walsh 500; Schramm II, 24; Schreiber 4266; Goff I-181.