Liber bibliae moralis.
Liber bibliae moralis.
Liber bibliae moralis.
Liber bibliae moralis.

Liber bibliae moralis. Ulm: Johann Zainer, 9 April 1474.

Royal folio (402 x 275 mm). Collation: 1-610 78 88 (8/7 + 1) 910 (9/8 + 1) 10-1510 16-178 18-2610 2712]. 266 leaves, unfoliated. 50 lines & headline, double column. Gothic type 1:116. Zainer’s two-sided woodcut border with foliage, flowers, and a jester (BMC 6a) on first page, 10- and 3-line woodcut capital initials (BMC 3a and 1b), the larger initials with foliate ropework, the smaller pearled outline lombards, one 6-line initial (34 mm. h., f. 18/1r) and one 10-line initial A from a different set (ff. 20/2v and 21/3r). Partly inked bearer type on ff. 15/2r and 17/8v. Mostly unrubricated, with the exception of the first six leaves and, in a different ink, ff. 23/7v-8r, both with initials filled in red, underlining and capital strokes. Final quire with some dampstaining and worming, the latter affecting a couple of letters in last leaf which also has two marginal repairs, elsewhere only a few leaves with a minor marginal dampstain, and very occasional soiling in gutter margins; altogether a fresh, large copy, many deckle edges preserved (two with extra stubs missed by the binder (ff. 8/4-5). Binding: Contemporary German red-stained deerskin(?) over wooden boards, blind-stamped with rosettes in two sizes and lozenge-shaped tools (covers worn and rubbed, tools not discernible), formerly chained, evidence of five metal center- and cornerpieces, chased brass and leather clasps and brass catches (renewed), discreetly rebacked, preserving original sewing. Provenance: Beyharting (Bavaria), Augustinian Canons (dissolved 1803), inscriptions on front flyleaf and first page; Munich Royal Library duplicate, 19th-century shelfmark & “duplum” note on front flyleaf (”Inc. Typ. No. 819. Duplum”). ***

First Edition of an allegorical interpretation of the Old and New Testaments by the French Benedictine encyclopedist Pierre Bersuire or Bercheure, a Poitou native who was prior of the convent of St. Eloi in Paris. Known for his extraordinary memory, he left a number of works, several now lost, which are “filled with divisions, distinctions, definitions, arguments, and representations” (Hurter & Pangerl). Transmitted in the manuscript tradition under the title Reductorium morale utriusque testamenti, the present work contains a chapter-by-chapter biblical commentary, an adaptation of Berchorius’ alphabetically ordered Reportorium super Bibliam.

This edition was one of the earlier productions of the prototypographer of Ulm. Johann Zainer had worked at the press of his older brother Gunther in Augsburg, where he met the Ulm town physician and humanist Heinrich Steinhöwel (d. 1478), who, lacking a local printer, had entrusted two of his translations (of Apollonius of Tyre and of Boccaccio’s tale of Griseldis) to the distinguished Augsburg printer in 1471. It was only natural that he should set the younger Johann up in business in Ulm. Johann’s first dated book (Steinhöwel’s Regimen wider die Pestilenz) was completed in January 1473.

The Berchorius contains the second appearance of Zainer’s magnificent two-sided woodcut “jester” border (Narrenranke). After three productive years in business, Zainer, no longer sustained by Steinhöwel’s backing, ran into financial difficulties and was obliged to sell off his stock of handsome woodcut ornaments, including sets of initial capitals and eight different borders. They were widely dispersed and reappeared in imprints from Mainz, Strassburg, and Heidelberg. Zainer’s larger set of decorative initials, BMC 3a, was first used in this edition.

This is a very tall copy in fresh condition. The last copy to appear in the Anglo-American auction rooms, the Doheny (Perryville) copy, sold at Christie’s New York 14 Dec. 2001 (lot 84), described as a “very tall fine copy,” was several millimeters shorter and narrower than this copy. The wide stubs of the inserted singleton leaves in the 8th and 9th quires were not cut back, making it possible to discern the true collation, which differs from that given in BMC. The BMC collation implies that both extra leaves were added at the ends of the quires, whereas the additional leaves were in fact inserted after the penultimate leaf in quire [8] and after the antepenultimate leaf in quire [9].

The unpressed condition of this copy makes it easy to find several cloth impression marks, long noticed in Johann Zainer’s imprints, which extend beyond the text block, and which were made by linen cloths used to dampen the paper in preparation for printing, as shown by Claire Bolton in 2008. Through Bolton’s rigorous analysis of the cloth impression marks in books printed by Johann Zainer she was able to reveal aspects of his printing practice, notably the fact that he was still using a one-pull press throughout the 1470s (p.191). While the leaves in this copy were not checked exhaustively, spot-checking revealed cloth impression marks on fols. 1/5v, 6/5v, 8/5r, and 24/8-10, with fol. 24/10 showing an impression of a loose thread at the end of the cloth.

Goff B-336; H 2794*; CIBN B-235; Walsh 883; Bod-inc. B-155; BMC II 522; BSB-Ink B-291; GW 3862; Amelung 20; cf. Hurter & Pangerl, Nomenclator literarius theologiae Catholicae 2:636. Cf. Claire M. Bolton, Fifteenth-Century Printing Practices of Johann Zainer, Ulm, 1473-1478 (Oxford Bibliographical Society, 2016), passim. Item #3102

Price: $32,000.00