RICHARDUS DE BURY (1281-1345, Bishop of Durham). Philobiblon. Cologne: [Printer of Augustinus, De fide], 1473.
Chancery half-sheet 4o (182 x 126 mm). Collation: [1-68] (1/1r prologue, 1/3r chapter one, 1/6v colophon). 48 leaves. Veldener's gothic text type 100, here measuring 105 mm. 26 lines. Initial-spaces. Contemporary rubrication: 2-, 3- and 5-line initials, paragraph marks, capital-strokes, underlinings, all supplied in red. (Slight worming affecting text in first two leaves, somewhat stained in places.) English binding of c. 1830, probably by Charles Lewis, gold-tooled blue morocco, border of fillets and corner ornament on sides, longitudinal lettering on spine, roll-tooled turn-ins, marbled endpapers, gilt edges. Provenance: Limburg, monastery library, the gift of Brother Adam Luÿscher (inscription dated 1515, later pressmark) -- Beriah Botfield (1807-63), member of the Roxburghe Club, author of Prefaces to the First Editions of the Greek and Roman Classics 1861, by bequest and inheritance to -- Marquess of Bath (removed from Longleat House, Christie's London, 30 March 1994, lot 27).
RARE FIRST EDITION OF THE MOST CELEBRATED EARLY TREATISE ON BIBLIOPHILY. The first quire is known in two states, the Botfield copy agreeing with BL IA. 3708, e.g. reading de librorum amore in line 14 on a3r.
Richard Aungerville, known as Richard de Bury from his birthplace of Bury St. Edmunds, was tutor to the future King Edward III, ambassador to Pope John XXII, consecrated Bishop of Durham in 1333, appointed high chancellor of England and treasurer in 1336. Above all, however, he was an early humanist and promoter of learning, possessing more books than all the other bishops put together. He searched monastic libraries, saving ancient manuscripts from destruction. His agents in France and Germany gathered books for his collection, which went well beyond theology to include poetry, Greek and Hebrew texts. Petrarch met him in Avignon and gives an account of their relations in his letters. His library at Oxford was dispersed at the dissolution of the monasteries, when Durham College shared the fate of the monastic foundation to which it was annexed. Few books of his can be identified today. Richard de Bury's treatise on the love of books not only praises learning and book collecting, but sets out rules for the use of libraries and devotes important chapters to the preservation of literature and its enemies. The surviving manuscripts and numerous early editions testify to the considerable influence exercised by this text on the learned world of Medieval and Renaissance Europe. FINE COPY. HC *4151; BMC I, 232-233; Goff R-191; VK 1021.