[CATHOLICON] An Original Leaf From the Catholicon of Johannes Balbus

[CATHOLICON] An Original Leaf From the Catholicon of Johannes Balbus

(Mainz: [Johann Gutenberg], 1460 [second impression, Peter Schoeffer?, c. 1468-69]).

A HANDSOME ORIGINAL LEAF from the most substantive of three books printed by Gutenberg from two-line castings rather than moveable types. Three chronologically distinct printings of the CATHOLICON have been identified on the basis of their paper stocks. This leaf containing the dictionary entries from "Cedula" to "Cenomia" from the first edition, second impression.
As early as 1905 Gottfred 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 stock. In 1982 Paul Needham presented evidence that the three issues were printed at 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 final achievement, the invention of an early form of stereotyping."[Christie's Nakles Collection of Incunabula, 2000 lot #2]
This leaf likely from those acquired by E. Byrne Hackett and broken up by him for the Brick Row Book Shop in 1936. The older matting board included with it has an old but undated typed note on a card with Brick Row printed letterhead.
Balbus's CATHOLICON, the standard Latin dictionary of the later Middle Ages, went through at least fifteen editions before the end of the fifteenth century. The leaf offered here represents ONE OF THE EARLIEST POSSIBLE OBTAINABLE PIECES OF PRINTING, and its association with Johann Gutenberg provides an intimate connection with the beginning of printing from moveable type, perhaps the single most important event of the millenium (so far). Item #27248

A single leaf of the Mainz CATHOLICON, first edition, second impression. Double column, 66 lines. Type: 82G cast on two-line slugs. Rubricated in red with lombard initials (26 on recto and 26 on verso) and paragraph marks (5 on recto and 8 on verso). Royal folio (14 7/16 x 11 1/4 inches), printed on Galliziani paper with the characteristic shadows at wire-line intervals of ca. 5mm and with water-mark present. Now presented unattached, between a cream beveled mounting, older mounting also included and all within a handsome portfolio of tan buckram with paper label on the upper board. Single leaf. A very handsome piece with just a bit of browning along the binding edge, slight tear at bottom margin expertly repaired, no text effected, slight discolouring from old mounting tape at two very small points of the upper edge.

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Price: $5,500.00