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[BALBI, Giovanni?]


Published: Mainz: 1460 [but c.1469]

Stock code: 81098

Price: £5,000

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The Mainz Catholicon is the first book to name its place of printing. The printer was anonymous but the volume was long-believed by tradition, bibliography, and sentiment to be the work of Gutenberg. Nearly 50 years after the publication of the present leaf book, Paul Needham gave evidence that there were at least three issues, the first printed by Gutenberg in 1460 using 2-line slugs (what would be Gutenberg’s final great invention: an early form of stereotyping) and re-printed by Konrad Humery and Peter Schoeffer c.1469 and again c.1472. The present leaves are the second issue on Galliziani paper. The book is notable in particular for the emotive colophon (in translation): “With the help of the Omnipotent God, at Whose very nod the tongues of infants are made eloquent … this excellent book, Catholicon, has been printed in the goodly city of Mainz … and it has been brought to completion in the year of our Lord’s incarnation, 1460 – not by means of reed, stylus, or quill, but with the miraculous concurrence of punches and types cast in moulds.”

Folio (366 x 284 mm). Two single leaves from the Dictionary section: from the letter A (aliquis–altare) and the letter R (recinum–regno). In two columns, initials and paragraphs marks in red. Minor edge-wear. Laid into: M. B. Stillwell’s Gutenberg and the Catholicon of 1460. New York: Brick Row Book Shop, 1936. Original gilt-lettered cloth, leatherette chemise and slipcase. Slipcase and chemise rubbed, volume fine.

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