Royal folio (404 x 295 mm). Collation: [1-510 612 7-1010 11-138 14-1910 206 21-2310 24-2610 276]. 258 leaves. 59 lines, double column. Gothic type 3:91. Rubrication: opening 12-line initial with reserved decoration and purple penwork infill and filigree extensions, 4- to 6-line initials in red throughout, the major initials with purple infill and extensions, 2-line flourished initials in red, paragraph marks in red; 3-line manuscript heading in the same red ink directly preceding the first lines of text on 1/1r; headlines with quaestio numbers in red; capital strokes in the final quire, containing the Ordo quaestionum. Pinholes (four) and many deckle edges preserved throughout.
Binding: contemporary South-German blind-tooled dark brown goatskin over unbevelled thick beech boards, from the workshop of the Benedictines at Asbach (Kyriss shop 1), covers panelled with double fillets, large central panel tooled with intersecting fillets forming a saltire pattern, each compartment decorated with a repeated built-up ornament consisting of a central triangle stamp with a spiraling internal design surrounded by alternating impressions of a palmette stamp and a fleur-de-lys tool (3 impressions each), small square rosette tool at fillet intersections; vellum title label mounted on front cover, no pastedowns, quire liners from a late 13th-century northern Italian manuscript on vellum, by a professional scribe (thanks to Dr. Ilya Dines for examining the manuscript liners); some worming to covers, rebacked, repairs to corners, lacking clasps, modern free endleaves); quarter morocco folding case.
Condition: Minor soiling to first leaf, penwork infill of the initial a bit faded or smudged, one or two small marginal wormholes in first and last few leaves; small tears in gutters of fols. 24/10 and 25/1-3, from adhesion, causing loss to a few letters on 25/1v-25/2r.
Provenance: Asbach, Benedictine Monastery of St. Matthias, early inscription (M[o]n[aste]rij Aspacensis) at head of text on first page, binding; Munich, Royal Library, inkstamps (including Duplum stamp) in lower margin of first and last pages (fols. 1r and 258v), ms. shelfmark Inc. Typ. Nro 4 inside front cover; Ambroise Firmin-Didot (1790-1876), morocco booklabel, sale Paris, 27 May 1879, lot 164 ("Très bel exemplaire"); unidentified red morocco gilt armorial booklabel: rampant fox ermine, three stars in chief; George Dunn of Woolley Hall (1865-1912), Kelmscott Press bookplate, his sale, part III, Sotheby's 29 November 1917, lot 3807; Estelle Doheny (1875-1958), morocco booklabel; donated by her to the Mission Church of Saint Mary of the Barrens, Louisville, Missouri, sale, Christie’s New York, 14 December 2001, lot 29.***
A very fine, full-sized copy of the first dated edition, the second printed, of the Secunda secundae, the most influential and earliest printed of the various parts of Aquinas's Summa theologiae, the most important philosophical treatise of the medieval Church (”the dogmatic Bible of Catholicism" - Verfasserlexikon 2) and an essential philosophical work of the Western canon.
This was the first book printed by Peter Schoeffer alone, following the death of his father-in-law Johann Fust, Gutenberg’s financial backer, in 1466. Fust and Schoeffer had printed in partnership from 1457 until Fust’s death. The type used in this edition was originally cut for the 1459 Duranti, Rationale divinorum officiorum, the fourth recorded edition from their press.
This was an appropriate first publication for Schoeffer, who was “a cleric devoting himself to the materialization and dissemination of the word of God in the medium of print” (Lotte Hellinga, review, The Library, 7.1 (March 2006), 93-94. All the many writings of St. Thomas were preparatory to the great Summa Theologiae, composed ca. 1266-1272, which aimed to be no less than a compendium of all knowledge. Aquinas applied Aristotelian logic to this monumental task, simplifying and ordering questions on the nature of God and the universe, man made in God’s image, and free will. The vast work is divided into three parts, of which the first treated God, the second man, and the third (left incomplete by Aquinas) Christ. The second part was itself subdivided into two parts, the first concerning the final end of man and human actions in general, and the second ('Secunda secundae') treating morality, the virtues and vices, and the states and kinds of life.
Because of its usefulness as a guide to Christian morals and ethics, this second part was consulted and copied separately from an early date, and more frequently than the other parts, which practice was reflected in the early printed tradition. The other parts of the Summa did not appear in print until after the present edition: Part I was printed in Cologne by Ulrich Zel in 1468; Schoeffer published the first edition of the Secunda prima in 1471; and Michael Wenssler printed the third part in Basel ca. 1474. The first edition to contain all three parts was also published by Wenssler, in 1485.
Eric White noted that “the composition of type for Schoeffer's book was a monumental task. Even using the small `Durandus’ typeface, it required 515 pages of text in double columns of 59 lines” (Bridwell Library exhibition, 2003). For both this edition and the 1473 Prima secundae (1473) Schoeffer printed copies on vellum. Besides this paper copy, Estelle Doheny owned one of the copies on vellum (cf. Christie’s New York, the Estelle Doheny Collection Part 1, 22 October 1987, lot 7). They are still the only copies of this edition to have been sold in the Anglo-American auction rooms in the past 50 years. Unlike Mrs. Doheny’s vellum copy, this copy is without cancels (as is the copy in the Morgan Library).
Three variant settings of the 9-line colophon are recorded, showing that the colophon was apparently printed in a separate operation from the rest of the page. This copy has the setting described by Hain and BMC, with Aquinas’ name in line 1 and with the date in line 9 reading “die sexta mensis marcij”. A handful of copies, not including this one, have the Fust-Schoeffer device printed in red below the colophon.
The rubrication of this copy with its red initials, purple penwork infill, and flourished paragraph marks, may have been carried out under Schoeffer’s direction. It conforms to the general characteristics of the examples provided by Lotte Hellinga in her study of Schoeffer’s relations with the book-trade in Mainz. Before 1465 Fust and Schoeffer produced several books decorated with complex systems of printed initials printed in red or blue and variously applied in individual copies. “These attempts to achieve the completion of books entirely by typographical means seem to have been abandoned from 1465 in favour of instructions to rubricators, flourishers, and painters....There remains a substantial amount of material where we may hesitate to ascribe it to an individual – a small group of people, an atelier, was in all likelihood working in the same style – but where we can apply with some confidence the generic identification `Mainz work’” (Hellinga, pp. 143 and 145).
The handsome binding is decorated with four tools of which two have been ascribed to the workshop of the Benedictine Monastery at Asbach, Lower Bavaria (now Austria), active from the mid-fifteenth-century to ca. 1513. The tools are Schunke, Schwenke-Sammlung Palmette 26 and Einbanddatenbank s021178, a curious small triangle with an internal swirling design (”Wirbelfigur”).
Goff T-209; H *1459; BMC I, 24 (IC.122); Oates 30; Bod-inc T-172; BSB-Ink T-287; GW M46483. Cf. E. M. White, ed. Peter Schoeffer, Printer of Mainz: A Quincentenary Exhibition at the Bridwell Library ... Dec. 2003 (Dallas, 2003); Lotte Hellinga, “Peter Schoeffer and the book-trade in Mainz,” in Bookbindings and other Bibliophily, Essays in honour of Anthony Hobson (1994), pp.131-83. Item #3145