LACTANTIUS, Lucius Coelius Firmianus (ca. 250-ca. 325). De divinibus institutionibus. -De ira dei. -De opificio dei vel de formatione hominis. -De phoenice carmen. Venice: Johannes de Colonia and Johannes Manthen, 27 August 1478.
Chancery 2o (297 x 205 mm.) Collation: a12; b-m10 n8 o-r10 s-x8 y10 z8; s8 (a1 blank, a2r table; b1r De divinibus institutionibus, t5r De ira dei, x6r De opificio dei, z3v De phoenice, z7v colophon and verses, z8r register, z8v blank). 220 leaves (of 228, without the final quire). 37 lines, register in 4 columns. Types: 8*:109R2, 110Gk. Six-, five-, three-, and two-line initial spaces, some with printed guide-letters. Unrubricated. (First leaf torn, mended and silked with loss to inscription, intermittent dampstain to blank margins, slight darkening to margins of first and last leaves, printing-house smudges to ca. 5 leaves, small wormtrack to inner margin of ca. 10 leaves.)
Binding: contemporary English blind-tooled calf over oaken boards, divided by triple fillets into concentric frames, each filled with a different stamp, a fleur-de-lys, a unicorn with a Bactrian camel's hump and a grotesque mask at the end of its tail, and a crouching hare, the central rectangular panel filled with repeated impressions of a lozenge-shaped stamp of the Paschal Lamb, an Oxford binding (cf. S. Gibson, Early Oxford Bindings, Oxford 1903, pl. XXXVI, 76, 75, 85?, and pl. XXIII, 17); evidence of two clasps, vellum sewing guards cut from a 14th-century theological manuscript (rebacked with portions of original spine laid down, repairs to corners, manuscript pastedowns removed).
Provenance: early reader's marks in brown plummet, later ones in lead pencil -- Otley, a monk of Fountains Abbey, perhaps Thomas Otley, prior of Bolton Abbey 1495-1513: contemporary inscription, b1r (Noscere si cupias ad quem specto monachorum Otley fertur et est minimus de fontibus idem) -- 16th-century manuscript index on a1v -- Sir Thomas Tankard (d. 1626) of Brampton: inscription, f. a2r (Charisma Mri Tho. Tankard Armigeri Amico suo Tho. Rich: 1619), his gift in 1619 to -- Thomas Rich: inscription, a2r (see above) and mutilated inscription a1r (...Thomas Rich...) -- John Taylor: signature, a1v -- Dr. John Jamieson (1759-1838), author of the The Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language, published 1808: inscription, z8v ("Bought 16 January 1839 at 11 Hanover Street at Tait's sale by auction of the Library of the late Rev. Dr. John Jamieson") -- [Quaritch, cat. 1178 no. 37]
Lactantius, a Christian apologist of the early 4th century, composed his De divinis institutionbus in an effort to appeal to literate pagans by presenting the truths of the Christian religion in Ciceronian prose. His work was read throughout the Middle Ages and was printed in thirteen editions between 1465 and the end of the 15th century. This edition, printed in Venice by the prolific press of Johannes de Colonia and Johannes de Manthen, was a reprint, usually with the same page contents, from Adam de Ambergau's 1471 edition (Goff L-4). The final 8-leaf quire, with the Epitome of De divinis institutionibus and a second colophon, was Colonia and Manthen's addition; it was perhaps not supplied with all copies.
This copy was in England from an early date. The Oxford shop at which it was bound seems to have been active ca. 1450-ca. 1489, and the inscription of the monk Otley shows that the book was at Fountains Abbey by the late 15th or early 16th century. The Otleys were a distinguished Yorkshire family, and Henricus de Ottelay had been abbot of Fountains in the 13th century. It is possible that the book passed from Fountains to the Beckwith family, who held former Fountains property after the dissolution, from the Beckwiths through marriage to the Tankard family, and thus to Sir Thomas Tankard.
HC 9814*; BMC V, 233 (IB. 20343-44); BSB-Ink. L-7; CIBN L-8; Harvard/Walsh 1707; IGI 5625; N. Poole-Wilson and R.A. Linenthal, "An Unrecorded Book from Fountains Abbey in a Medieval Oxford Binding," Bodleian Library Record, 1996, pp. 408-410; Goff L-9.