THOMAS AQUINAS (Saint, ca. 1225-1274). Summa theologiae. Pars secunda: Pars secunda. [Strassburg: Johann Mentelin, before Advent 1463].
Royal 2o (392 x 293 mm). Collation: [18; 2-512 610 7-1512 168 176(1+1) 18-2112 2210] (1/1r table, 1/6r, 1/7-1/8 blank; 2/1r Quaestio i, 7/1r Quaestio xliv, 12/1r Quaestiones xcii, 18/1r Quaestio cliv, 22/10 blank). 244 leaves (of 247, without the blanks). 59 lines, double column. Type 3:92aG. Two- to seven-line initial spaces. One seven-line initial supplied in green modelled with dark green and yellow, on a mauve ground with liquid gold tracery, within a square blue frame, with foliage extensions into the margin. Quaestiones introduced by three- to six-line blue Lombard initials with red pen-flourishing, or red Lombards with brown flourishing, some including drawings of faces, articuli introduced by two-line red Lombards, the table with alternating red and blue two-line Lombards, capitals slashed in red, red underlines and paragraph marks. Section titles and headlines supplied in red (brown in the table), summaries of chapter contents entered by the rubricator in the margins of the table. Contemporary manuscript quiring in arabic numerals at lower inner corners of first rectos, contemporary manuscript catchwords at lower inner corners of last versos. Pinholes visible in upper and lower margins of most leaves. (Printing flaw to 20/2v from creased paper, 1/1 rehinged, dampstain to upper outer corner of first ca. 75 leaves, one small wormhole through blank margin of first ca. 50 leaves and last ca. 10 leaves, a few marginal slits or tears, some discreetly repaired, occasional smudges.)
Binding: contemporary German blind-tooled calf over wooden boards, the covers panelled with double blind fillets, the inner panel with a central row of small rosettes alternating round and quatrefoil shapes, the central panel on each cover tooled with double blind fillets to an over-all saltire pattern, the intersections marked with the small round rosette, in the center of each compartment a lozenge-shaped tool patterned with cross-hatching resembling a cross of Jerusalem, on the front cover each corner of this tool extended with a narrow blade- or leaf-shaped tool, the same tool used in grouped impressions to mark the ends of the raised bands and on three sides of the outer panel to form a semi-circular sunburst pattern, the tools not in Kyriss, Schwenke-Sammlung; two brass clasps with white leather straps, the catches engraved differently with patterns suggestive of armorial devices, contemporary paper label on front cover, vellum sewing guards cut from 14th- or 15th-century manuscripts (without the ten bosses, some wear including a few losses of leather mostly on back cover, rebacked, joints splitting, endleaves renewed); new cloth folding case.
Provenance: Conrad Vässler, of Mindelheim (Swabia), who was also the rubricator, purchased in 1465: inscription on 21/10v (Comparatus est hic liber a Magistro Conrado Vässler de Mindelhaim Anno domini M cccc lxv) -- a few contemporary annotations and corrections, some in red ink by the rubricator -- scattered 15th- or 16th century marginalia -- Charles Fairfax Murray (1849-1919); sale, Christie's, 10 December 1917, lot 40, purchased by Quaritch (collation mark dated 27.xii.17) -- C.S. Ascherson: bookplate -- Albert Ehrman, Broxbourne Library: bookplate and markings; laid in: one letter from Quaritch and and two autograph postcards signed ("V.S.") from Victor Scholderer addressed to A. Ehrman, dated 28.xii.45 and 2.i.46; sale, Sotheby's, 8 May 1978, lot 586, to Lathrop C. Harper.
FIRST EDITION of any part of the Summa theologica, and THE SECOND BOOK PRINTED IN STRASSBURG. Although there has been much discussion of the nature of Gutenberg's secret work when he lived in Strassburg in the 1430s and 1440s, there is no evidence that printing was introduced into the city before Johann Mentelin established a press there ca. 1458 and produced a Vulgate Bible, datable to not after 1460 (Goff B-528). The date assigned to the present edition of Thomas Aquinas is derived from a purchase inscription in the Sélestat copy, which names Mentelin as the printer and is dated Advent 1463. The type used in the Aquinas, conventionally referred to as Mentelin 3, was in fact his second type and was first used in this book. The edition also shows other evidence of early production, in that Mentelin's compositors were having difficulty with copy-fitting. At three points in the text, 6/10v, 11/12v, and 17/6v, a blank space was left at the foot of the last column of a quire, with the printed notice "Hic nullus est deffectus. Sequitur distinccio". The extra leaf in quire 17 also represents an effort to make a section of text come out even with the end of the quire.
The greatly influential Summa theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, composed ca. 1266-1272, was divided into three parts, of which the first treated God, the second man, and the third Christ. The second part was itself subdivided into a first part, concerning the last end of man and human actions in general, and a second part, in which Aquinas discussed the virtues and vices and the states and kinds of life. The usefulness of the Secunda secundae as a guide to Christian morals and ethics meant that from an early date it was consulted and copied separately, a practice that was reflected in the early printed tradition. Before the end of the fifteenth century there were eleven separate editions of the Secunda secundae. Part I of the Summa theologica was first printed ca. 1468 in Cologne (H 1419), Part II/1 in 1471 in Mainz (Goff T-203), and Part III ca. 1474 in Basel (Goff T-185). The first complete edition of the Summa appeared in Basel in 1485 (Goff T-194); two more complete editions were published before the end of the century.
The original pastedowns of the present volume consisted of two complete and originally conjugate leaves (sheet 2.5) from the rubrication table for the 36-line Bible, printed in a late state of Gutenberg's DK type and now attributed to Albrecht Pfister in Bamberg, ca. 1459-1460 (not after 1461). These leaves were removed by Charles Fairfax Murray when the book was in his possession and were given by him in 1918 to Cambridge University Library (Fairfax Murray German 460; Oates 17; The Liverpool Copy of the 36-line Bible, Christie's London, 27 November 1991, p. 63).
The text in this copy of Aquinas begins "Ost communem considerationem", with a space left for the initial P to be supplied by the illuminator, whereas in the British Library copy the "P" was printed. Victor Scholderer remarked in his annotations to BMC that the present copy shows six pinholes, one each at the upper corners and two each at the lower corners, whereas the British Library copy is recorded as having four pinholes only. The date of the inscription in the present copy, 1465, is the second earliest recorded for this edition, after that of the Sélestat copy cited above; inscriptions in several other copies are dated 1466, 1467 or 1468.
VERY FINE, CRISP AND FRESH COPY, WITH SHARP TYPE IMPRESSIONS. HC 1454*; BMC I, 51 (IC. 508); CIBN T-174; Doheny I, 13; Fairfax Murray German 453; Harvard/Walsh 49; Schorbach Mentelin 5; Pr 199; Goff T-208.