BALBUS, Johannes (d. 1298). Catholicon. [Mainz: Printer of the 'Catholicon' (Johann Gutenberg), ca. 1460 -- second impression: Mainz: Peter Schoeffer(?) for Konrad Humery(?), ca. 1469].
Royal 2o (364 x 286 mm). Single leaf: vol. I, fol. 11/7, containing the dictionary entries from Capto to Carina. 66 lines, double column. Type: 82G cast on two-line slugs. Printed on Galliziani paper, the half of the sheet without the watermark, but with the characteristic shadows at wire-line intervals of ca. 5 mm. Rubricated with one-line red Lombard initials and red paragraph marks. (Slight browning at extreme edges, light stain on verso affecting one or two words each in ca. 15 lines of type.) Folding morocco-backed cloth case.
Provenance: Sir Hans Sloane; by bequest in 1753 to -- British Museum; sold as a duplicate, 20 February 1805 -- Roach; sold by Evans, London, 10 December 1824 -- Henry W. Poor; sold 1908 -- Alvin W. Krech -- E. Byrne Hackett; broken up by him for the Brick Row Book Shop in 1936, and sold with an essay by Margaret B. Stillwell.
A single leaf from the first edition, second impression of the Catholicon, printed from two-line "slugs" on Galliziani paper in 1468 or 1469. As early as 1905 Gottfried Zedler recognized that the Catholicon edition dated Mainz 1460 exists in three impressions printed from a single setting of type but associated with three presses (with different pinhole patterns) and printed on three distinct paper stocks. In 1982 Paul Needham presented evidence that the three issues were printed at three different times, according to the datable use of their paper stocks: copies on Bull's Head paper (with which are classed the vellum copies) in 1460, copies on Galliziani paper ca. 1469, and copies on Crown and Tower papers ca. 1472. Moreover, Needham argued that the three impressions were produced, not from standing type, but from two-line "slugs" cast from the type and capable of being reassembled for subsequent impressions. According to this theory, the first impression of the Catholicon was produced by Gutenberg himself in 1460; the "slugs" then passed into the possession of Konrad Humery with Gutenberg's other typographic material after the latter's death in 1468 and were re-used by Humery, probably with the help of Peter Schoeffer, ca. 1469. In this view, which has aroused prolonged controversy among incunabulists, the 1460 Catholicon represents not only Gutenberg's last production but also his final achievement, the invention of an early form of stereotyping.
HC 2254*; BMC I, 39 (IC. 303); BSB-Ink. B-8; CIBN B-13; GW 3182; Harvard/Walsh B-28; Paul Needham, "Johann Gutenberg and the Catholicon Press," Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 76, 1982, pp. 395-456 (and subsequent discussion by him, Lotte Hellinga, Martin Boghardt and other bibliographers in Gutenberg Jahrbuch, The Book Collector, Bulletin du bibliophile, and Wolfenbttler Notizen zur Buchgeschichte); Pr 146; Goff B-20.
Stillwell, Margaret Bingham. Gutenberg and the Catholicon of 1460. New York: The Brick Row Book Shop, 1936. Half-title signed by the author. Blue printed wrapper. Presumably the copy with which this leaf was distributed. (2)