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SEGOVIA, Johannes de.

Tractatus super materia contractuum de censibus annis et perpetuis;

[together with] Propositiones responsive ad questionem de observancia dominicalium dierum et precipuorum solempnium festorum.

[Cologne: J. Koelhoff, c.1472] Stock Code: 121113
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One of the first printed works devoted to finance

First edition of one of the earliest printed works devoted to finance, one of the first to carry printed signatures, and the author's first printed text. Written during the Council of Basel, this treatise presents Segovia's contribution to the debate surrounding the theory and practice of census in medieval theology and economics. In it he sets forth an extended argument for the moral neutrality of financial transactions involving lifetime or perpetual annuities relating to assets ("census") distinct from usurious loan transactions ("mutuum").

John of Segovia was born toward the end of the 14th century and probably died in 1458. He came to prominence at the Council of Basel (1431-49) as one of the chief supporters of the revolutionary party and later as part of the committee responsible for electing the antipope, Felix V. In recognition of this service he was made cardinal. At the end of the schism he resigned his cardinalate, became Bishop of Caesarea in 1447, and eventually retired to a monastery. A considerable book collector, he left his important collection of manuscripts to Salamanca University in 1457.

This is one of the first books from the press of Johann Koelhoff the Elder (fl.1471-87, d.1493), printer and trader in Latin and Low German works in Cologne. Jesse D. Mann argues that Koelhoff's involvement as printer "provides further evidence of the Tractatus's relative popularity and importance" (p. 74). From approximately 1470, "experiments were made in stamping in typeset signatures by hand This rather ugly device was of short vogue, for in 1472 Johann Koelhoff of Cologne showed the way to all subsequent printers by setting up a last line on the pages that needed signing, consisting of the necessary letter and number and, for the rest, of a row of quads or other spaces that left it blank in printing. The invention spread and in a dozen years was general" (Stokes, p. 324). As one of his earlier works this Tractatus is therefore of considerable typographical significance. It is also interesting to note that Koelhoff printed several other works on the census question.

The second work (5 pages) discusses the observance of Sundays and other Feast Days.

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Folio (283 x 205 mm), 24 leaves. Sometime included in a larger Sammelband, now bound in early 19th-century brown quarter cloth, marbled paper boards, orange lozenge paper label to front board lettered and triple ruled in gilt.


Printed in gothic type with spaces for initials.


Complete with the initial blank leaf. Bookplate of Francesco Orazio Beggi (fl.1848-80), Commissary Director of Police in Modena under the provisional government in 1848, to front pastedown (his library was sold anonymously by Puttick and Simpson in London in two sales, 16-18 March 1864 and 10 May 1865); 2 catalogue clippings also to front pastedown; contemporary marginal annotations in ink including several manicules. Extremities a little worn and chipped, contents lightly toned with some dampstain to top and fore edges of gathering C, a very good copy of this rare work.


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