Mammotrectus super Bibliam. Johannes MARCHESINUS.
Mammotrectus super Bibliam.
Mammotrectus super Bibliam.
Mammotrectus super Bibliam.

Mammotrectus super Bibliam. Venice: Nicolaus Jenson, 23 Sept. 1479.

4to (212 x 146 mm). Collation: A10 B-C8; a-y8 1-68 710 (A1 blank, A2r-C8v subject index; a1r author’s prologue, a1r-7/9v text, colophon on 7/9v, 7/10r-v table of contents). [260] leaves. Double column, 38 lines and headline. Types: 3:106G (headlines and openings of each book), 6:84(75)G (text). Capital spaces with guide letters. Rubricated: pearled Lombard initials in red, some with extenders, many with additional (slightly later?) black penwork infill, capital strokes and paragraph marks in red. A contemporary supplementary manuscript register of Biblical names on recto of blank leaf A1, neatly written in two columns; contemporary manuscript foliation (1-234), leaf numbers added to the table, and a few marginal notes, all in the same hand. A few mostly marginal wormholes in first few quires, more worming in last few quires, light marginal dampstaining to last 8 or so leaves, a couple of red smudges (rubricator’s?) on r5v and y8r. Large copy, preserving some deckle edges.
Binding: Contemporary South German or Austrian dark brown blind-stamped calf over wooden boards, covers with large central panel outlined by triple fillets and with intersecting fillets forming a saltire design, outer borders stamped with a repeated Maria banderole tool, the compartments of the panel stamped with two sizes of rosettes, a fleur-de-lis, a circular ihs tool, a three-leaved plant, a teardrop-shaped dragon tool, drawer-handle tool and larger leafy plant tool; ten incised and embossed brass corner-and centerpiece bosses, two brass fore-edge clasps and catches, the leather renewed, spine with banderole tools, with erroneous 19th-century paper label “S. Hieronym Expositio antiqua,” 5 red-dyed parchment index tabs, quire liners of manuscript waste; spine rubbed, leather abraded at head and tail exposing endbands, oversewn with later thread, worming, especially to lower cover (possibly recased but apparently not a remboîtage, the worming in the inner covers matching the text block). Modern linen folding case. Provenance: contemporary manuscript imprecation against thieves on front pastedown, manuscript register and annotations as described above. ***

A fine copy of Jenson’s edition of this important Franciscan Biblical and liturgical aid, popular in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, containing hundreds of short entries providing etymological and grammatical explanations of terms found in the Vulgate and in liturgy.

Written between 1279 and 1297, by Giovanni Marchesino, a friar from Reggio Emilia, the Mammotrectus was “maternal milk” for the uneducated clergy (the term had been used by Augustine in his Commentary on the Psalms). Using synonyms and paraphrases, Marchesino taught barely literate priests how to pronounce the Latin words from the Bible which they read aloud and sang in Church, what the words meant, and how to use them in sentences. The first and longest part, arranged in order of the books of the Bible, from Genesis to Apocalypse, provides definitions, etymology, pronunciation and declensions of difficult words. This is followed by sections on the Psalms, the Lives of the Saints, basic Biblical exegesis, information on Hebrew festivals and customs, and extensive explanations of liturgical texts, including antiphons and responses, Eucharistic prayers, hymns, and sermons for every day of the ecclesiastical calendar. Packed with information, the work remained for two hundred years “the chief manual for poorly-educated priests” (Moss). It was used by young friars, who needed to master the Biblical texts and to use them in preaching. A third part, found in some manuscripts but apparently not in the printed tradition, contained an explanation of the Franciscan rule and papal bulls related to the order.

Twenty-three surviving 15th-century editions were followed by only a handful of editions in the early sixteenth century, by which time the Mammotrectus had become on object of derision on the part of the Reformists, for whom it was perhaps an unwelcome reminder of the ignorance of the clergy.

Jenson’s edition essentially reprinted the 1478 edition of Renner and Bartua (Goff M238). The omitted line and a half at the end of the second column on y8v appears to have been printed in this copy (not stamped in, as in British Library copy, IA. 197929). Quire 1 is here correctly printed (cf. BMC).

The owner of this attractive copy supplied his own supplemental index of names. I have not been able to identify the binding shop; the tools are not reproduced in the Einbanddatenbank, Kyriss, or Schunke Schwenke Sammlung.

Goff M-239; CIBN M-124; Walsh 1593, 1594; ; BMC V 180; BSB-Ink M-158; GW M20819. Cf. Ann Moss, “Latin Liturgical Hymns and their Early Printing History 1470-1520,” Humanistica Lovaniensia, 36 (1987), 112-37, esp. p. 118; Frans van Liere, “Marchesino da Reggio (Giovanni Marchesini)”, Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani 69 (2007). Item #3179

Price: $32,000.00