RODERICUS ZAMORENSIS (1404-1470). Speculum vitae humanae. [Paris]: Ulrich [Gering], Martin [Crantz] and Michael [Friburger], [not after 22 April 1472].
Chancery 2o (283 x 204 mm). Collation: [1-510 6-78 810; 9-1410 156] author's dedication to Pope Paul II, 1/2v preface, 1/4v table of contents, 1/9r Book I, 8/9v blank; Book II, colophon, 15/2r alphabetical subject index, 15/5v-15/6 blank). 140 leaves (of 142, without the two blanks). 32 lines. Type: 1:115R. Spaces for initials. Three 6-line divided Lombard initials in red and blue, large paragraph mark and initial on first page with fine penwork decoration in blue and red, 3-line initials alternately red and blue, paragraph marks in red, capitals highlighted in yellow. Contemporary manuscript catchwords visible on final verso of most quires. (A few small wormholes in first two quires, occasional marginal wormholes elsewhere, narrow marginal dampstain to short closed tear in upper margin of fol. 9/8, slight smudging to initials from erasure of marginalia in quire 11, some very light discoloration in quire 12.) 18th-century red morocco, sides panelled with triple gilt fillet, spine lettered and gilt with floral tools, gilt edges (quite worn, inner hinges cracked).
Provenance: a few contemporary marginal notes, contemporary manuscript correction on 2/9r -- occasional 17th or 18th-century marginal notes (erased in quire 11), corrections, underlines and pointing fingers -- Albi, Jesuit College: erased 18th-century inscription on -- George Dunn (1865-1912), of Woolley Hall, Maidenhead: bookplate; sale, Sotheby's, Part II, 6 February 1914, lot 1553 -- Charles Fairfax Murray (1849-1919): sale, Christie's, 21 March 1918, lot 673 (to Quaritch, collation mark dated 22.iii.18) -- C. S. Ascherson (d. 1945): bookplate; collection sold to Bernard Quaritch in 1944/45 -- Albert Ehrman (1890-1969), Broxbourne Library: bookplates and markings; sale, Sotheby's London, 8 May 1978, lot 422 (to Lathrop Harper).
FROM THE FIRST PRESS ESTABLISHED IN FRANCE. Third edition, the first printed in France, of this popular moral treatise on the obligations, advantages and disadvantages of the various secular and religious professions, by Rodriguez Sanchez de Arevalo, Commander of the Castel San'Angelo and bishop successively of Zamora, Calahorra and Palencia. France's prototypographers Gering, Crantz and Friburger, all natives of the Upper Rhine valley, established a press in 1470 on the premises of the Sorbonne at the behest of two prominent sorbonnistes, Guillaume Fichet and Johann Heynlin, both former rectors. Fichet, who served at the time as the Sorbonne librarian, provided financial backing for the enterprise, while Heynlin oversaw production and edited the texts. For three years the press produced Latin classical texts, guides to Latin grammar and style, and a few contemporary humanist texts for the use of the students and professors of the University. These first productions of the first French press, totalling just over 20 editions, were printed in roman type, probably commissioned by Heynlin from Germany (cf. Jeanne Veyrin-Forrer, "L'Atelier de la Sorbonne et ses mécènes", La lettre et le texte, Paris 1987, p. 167). The editions were apparently quite small and partly intended for private distribution by Fichet to his friends and patrons (cf. Scholderer, BMC VIII, xix). Thanks to Fichet's unusual decision to print individual dedications for presentation copies to various royal and influential personnages, it is possible to date the majority of these early undated editions. After Heynlin's return to full-time teaching and Fichet's departure for Rome in the fall of 1472, the press moved to the rue St. Jacques at the sign of the Soleil d'Or, acquiring at the same time a supplemental semi-gothic type, more familiar to French readers than the antiqua roman. Without Fichet's patronage commercial considerations took the upper hand, and the original humanist publishing agenda was virtually abandoned in favor of scholastic, liturgical, juridical and medical texts.
A copy of this edition at the British Library uniquely includes three extra printed leaves containing dedications from the printers to Robert d'Estouteville, provost of Paris; Jean II, duc de Bourbon, who had "honored this first Parisian press with a visit" (Claudin I, 49); and Louis XI (a second copy of this letter is preserved in the Huntington Library copy). The letter to Louis XI gives the printers' first names as above and is dated 22 April 1472, providing a terminus ante quem for the edition. A statement in the dedication to d'Estouteville indicates that the first edition, printed by Sweynheym and Pannartz in 1468, served as copy-text for this edition. Gering, Crantz and Friburger reprinted the text in 1475, using their second gothic type.
HC 13935; BMC VIII, 5 (IB. 39018); CIBN R-138; Claudin, I, pp. 45-50; Goff R-216.