Glossae. Bishop of Constance SALOMO III, Abbot of St. Gall, attributed to.
A magnificent anachronism

Glossae. [Augsburg: Monastery of Saints Ulrich and Afra, ca. 1474].

Royal folio (404 x 283 mm). Collation: [112 2-1410 158 16-2810 298]. [288] leaves, complete (1/1 blank, 1/2r preface, 1/2r-24/9r part I, 24/9v blank, 25/10r-29/8v part II). Fol. 2/5 is a cancel as always (stubs of 2/5 and 2/6 preserved, that of 2/5 bearing remnants of printed letters [see below]). 55 lines, double column. Type: 1:105R. Forty-four twelve-line woodcut white-vine capitals, printed from 23 blocks; numerous spaces for 2-line initials, the woodcut capital P omitted from fol. 11/1, leaving a blank space. Printed paragraph marks. Several instances of uninked and 3 examples of inked bearer type (ligature Qu). Printed on six paper stocks (watermark details below). Unrubricated. Pinholes (two) and many deckle edges preserved.
Condition: Intermittent dampstaining in lower inner margins, mainly in first half, affecting gutters between the first two quires and last two quires, small dampstain in a few upper inner margins in quires 19 and 25; recurring small mostly light stain within text block, possibly incurred when sheets were stacked before printing, some staining and soiling in final quire, especially to last leaf which also has small holes in the outer fore-margin from former catchplate nails inside rear cover (matching holes in pastedown); paper flaw with short tear in lower margin of fol. 26/8. Notwithstanding these small defects, overall a clean, large copy.
Binding: Contemporary blind-stamped calf over wooden boards, heavily restored and rebacked, on lower cover a repeated lion? stamp within central panel and large rosette tool, both too worn to identify; pair of metal fore-edge catches and one of two clasps (leather renewed); pastedown endleaves of printed waste: two bifolia from Gritsch, Quadragesimale, [Augsburg]: Johann Wiener, 1477 (GW 11542).
Provenance: contemporary inscription in an elegant gothic script on initial blank verso: “Veneran… [? abbreviation] / In honori ficabilita… [? abbreviation] / Veg[?]i[?]  v[?] [word abbreviated} [?]eorgi propria manu hoc scrip[si]”; Robert Walsingham Martin (1871-1961), bookplate, sale, Parke-Bernet, 12 November 1963, lot 400; Alexandre P. Rosenberg (1921-1987), art dealer, bookplate (designed by Picasso), sale, Christie’s, New York, 23 April 2021, lot 161. ***

Only Edition of an exceptionally extensive medieval Latin dictionary, including a few Old High German glosses, printed by the Benedictine monks of Saints Ulrich and Afra for the use of the monastery. The beautiful woodcut interlace initials of this edition were cut by a master Formschneider, presumably in direct imitation of the Romanesque white-vine illuminated initials of the now lost 12th-century manuscript copy-text.

The work, which expands on earlier medieval glossaries, including the Abavus maior and the probably 8th-century Liber glossarum, contains two parts, in two alphabetical sequences, of which the second is much shorter. About 30 manuscripts or fragments of the text are extant; dating from the 11th and 12th centuries, most are of Benedictine origin and all are from the south German and Austrian regions. Already in the 12th century the work was attributed to Salomo (Solomon) III, Bishop of Constance, later Abbot of St. Gall, and the most powerful Prince of the Church of the late Carolingian period. While this attribution was consistently doubted, and was judged spurious by 19th and 20th-century scholars, historians have convincingly linked Salomo III to a revision of the Liber glossarum, and he may have had a hand in the more extensive Glossae, if only as originator or leader of the project.

Known as the Salomonic Glossae, this massive dictionary constitutes a thesaurus of all domains of medieval knowledge. The approximately 35,000 lemmata derive from classical, biblical, early Christian and patristic sources, and include a large number of obscure and technical Latin terms. About 2400 entries include one-word translations into Old High German, in forms dating from the 10th, 11th or early 12th centuries (Henkel, p. 164). As in other medieval glossaries, such as Isidore’s Etymologiae, an occasionally obvious source, many entries consist of encyclopedic explanations, but the Glossae’s scope is broader and the text includes more technical terms than its Isidorian model; the structure is also purely alphabetical, in contrast with the systematic or hierarchical ordering of the Etymologiae. Like other medieval lexica, but even more so, it represents an impressive achievement of information management. It has been suggested that to accomplish this excerpting and alphabetical ordering, an early form of index card files may have been used (ibid., p. 158).

After 1300 the Glossae ceased to be copied, having been superseded by more modern dictionaries, such as Balbus’ Catholicon. By the time of its printing, it was, in fact, long since obsolete. That the monks of St Ulrich and Afra, under their ambitious abbot Melchior von Stammheim, unearthed and laboriously typeset the work in the 1470s, nearly 200 years after its last transcription, constitutes at first glance a curious episode of 15th-century printing history, until one understands its significance in the history of Benedictine scholarship.

The press of Saints Ulrich and Afra, active from ca. 1472 to 1474, was the first monastic press to be integrated into an existing scriptorium (Hägele, p. 133). The 15 or 16 editions assigned to the press were all printed anonymously. The very existence of a monastic press in the Augsburg monastery, a center of renewed Benedictine scholarship under the Melk Reform, would not be known were it not for two contemporary sources which record details of its establishment. One is a single-leaf vellum document containing a list of costs, and the other a first-hand chronicle written in the 1490s, i.e., nearly 20 years after the events, by the monk Wilhelm Wittwer, who participated in the project. These provide the following picture:

In the early 1470’s, against the advice of his peers, Abbott Melchior von Stammheim, insisted on setting up a printing press within the scriptorium. His project was facilitated by the availability of the presses and other printing material (though not the types) of the Augsburg printer Johann Schüssler, who was in poor health (and who died soon after). A typefounder, Sixt Sauerloch, was hired to produce type. While the monks carried out the typesetting, correcting, rubrication and binding, the printing itself was delegated to hired pressmen, including one Johannes Maislin (this may account for the heterogenous appearances of the Ulrich and Afra imprints). The printing office was in no way intended to supplant the manuscript production of the monastery’s important scriptorium. According to Wittwer, not only was Abbot Melchior eager to provide worthy and edifying employment for the monks, but he hoped that these new printed volumes would serve as calligraphic models for the monk-scribes; furthermore, he expected to use them as a way to expand the monastic library through barter (the possibility of selling the books is not mentioned in Wittwer’s account, although a later successor to von Stammheim did sell off many of the press’s books). But after the abbot’s death in January 1474 and, later in the year, a catastrophic storm that destroyed one of the monastery’s buildings, no new editions were undertaken, although those editions already underway were completed, and the presses and some of the types were evidently sold to local printers.

In his chronicle, Wittwer did not cite this edition of the Glossae Salomonis (he referred to only three Ulrich and Afra imprints), but it is securely attributed to the press on both typographical and circumstantial grounds. First, the type appears in five other books from the press, including Rampegollis, Compendium morale (GW M36990), which was described by Wittwer as the first book printed by the monks. Second, the monastery is known to have owned a manuscript of the Glossae. It was noted by Wittwer that in 1175 Heinrich von Maisach, Abbot of St. Gall, ordered that a manuscript copy of the Glossae be made for the Augsburg house. That codex’s subsequent peregrinations were also recorded (it was lost and then repurchased by a later, 14th-century abbot, only to be lost again). The appearance of the manuscript can be gleaned from the magnificent woodcut initials of the present edition. The woodblocks were subsequently acquired by the Augsburg printer Ludwig Hohenwang, and, following him, Johann Bämler.

The Glossae is the only Ulrich and Afra imprint to include a prologue, almost certainly written by Melchior von Stammheim. In it he praises the text (written by “our” Bishop Salomon) for its clear and elegant Latin, contrasting it with the poor Latin of the Catholicon, which sounds more like the braying of a donkey than the language of Cicero. The Benedictines, now flourishing anew under the Melk Reform, rejected the Italianizing Latin of 15th-century humanists, and turned toward their own past for tools of scholarship. At the same time the edition represented a tribute to an important Benedictine achievement from the “Golden Age” of the order’s past. While the text had no future, and this was its sole edition, it was and remains an imposing linguistic monument, and a splendid, isolated curiosity in the history of fifteenth-century printing.

As has often been noted, the edition shows traces of printing difficulties, including an insufficient supply of type. The cancel leaf, fol. 2/5 corrects an error in which the text of 2/4 (or at least its verso) was incorrectly imposed as a conjugate with fol. 2/6, as Curt Bühler was able to deduce from the final letters of the last lines of 2/4v still remaining on the stub of 2/5v in one of the Munich copies. In our copy, the outer edges of 5 letters are still visible on the stub. In the final quire, miscalculations of type requirements led to a shortage of the ligature Qu, on fol. 29/1v, in which blank spaces are left where it was required, except at the beginnings of lines, and of the upper-case R, replaced, on fol. 29/2v, with upper-case K’s. The shortage of the Qu ligature may have been due to its employment as bearer type: in this copy, two blind impressions of Qu appear on fol. 8/1r, at the foot of the partly empty second column, and inked impressions of the same sort (printed sideways) are found in blank areas of fols. 23/5v and 28/4v. On fol. 23/8v, a vertical row of 5 lower-case letters was somehow printed over the text block, at the foot of the second column. Finally, as apparently in all copies, the woodcut capital P was omitted from its designated space on fol. 11/1r. (Because the K and V are not used in the second alphabet of the second part, these are the only three woodcut capitals not to appear in more than one impression; the rest appear twice, except L which is used three times, including for the prologue.)

Watermarks: three different 7-petalled flowers (Blüte), a grape bunch, and an unidentified mark; the cancel leaf with a bulls-head watermark:
1) flower, 43/46 mm., cf. the online Wasserzeichen-Informationssystem (WZIS), found in several Ulm, Strassburg and Mainz incunables of ca. 1474;
2) flower, 51 mm., a popular watermark: many examples in WZIS, origin unknown, some possibly Lombardy, others Augsburg, Ulm, Strassburg, 1450-1485;
3) flower, 71 mm.: WZIS includes several examples, all South German (Augsburg, Nürnberg, Strassburg), 1470-1490;
4) grapes (fol. 3/8.3 and a few other leaves), approx. 45 x 30 mm.: Briquet 13049 (1465);
5) in cancel leaf 2/5 only: bulls head, with eyes, with single stem surmounted by a crown (113 mm.), placed toward bottom of leaf: : WZIS DE5580-2Incca375b_k10, found in an Anton Sorg imprint of 1475 (GW M13983);
6) fols. 6/6, 10/2, 21/6, 23/7, 25/6 with unidentified watermark, with a bulbous base, height 45 mm.

The phrase “in honori ficabilita...” in the early inscription on the front flyleaf is interesting. In medieval Latin the single word honorificabilitudinitas meant “a state worthy of being able to achieve honors.” Shakespeare used it in its ablative or dative form (honorificabilitudinitatibus) as a joking example of a long word in Love’s Labors Lost (Act V, Scene 1). It appears also in Dante, is first traced in the 8th century, and is found in other medieval dictionaries (notably the late 12th-century Magnae Derivationes of Uguccione [Hugh of Pisa], and in Balbus’ Catholicon), but not in Salomo’s Glossae.

References: ISTC is00021000; GW M39747; BMC II, 340; Goff S-21; Walsh 554, Whitesell Suppl S1-554A. Cf. Verfasserlexikon 2 8:542-544; Curt Bühler, “Remarks on the Printing of the Augsburg Edition (ca. 1474) of Bishop Salomon’s Glossae,” Homage to a Bookman. Essays on Manuscripts, Books and Printing, written for Hans P. Kraus on his 60th birthday (Berlin, 1967), pp. 133-136; Nikolaus Henkel, “Althochdeutsches im 15. Jahrhundert: Die ‘Glossae Salomonis’ der Augsburger Inkunabel HC 14134,” Gutenberg-Jahrbuch vol. 81 (2006), pp. 156–167; Rolf Schmidt, Reichenau und St. Gallen. Ihre literarische Überlieferung zur Zeit des Klosterhumanismus in St. Ulrich und Afra zu Augsburg um 1500 (Konstanzer Arbeitskreis für mittelalterliche Geschichte, Vorträge und Forschungen, Sonderband 33, Sigmaringen, 1985, pp. 89-92; R. Schmidt, “Die Klosterdruckerei von St. Ulrich und Afra in Augsburg (1472 bis kurz nach 1474),” Gier & Janota, eds., Augsburger Buchdruck und Verlagswesen von den Anfangen bis zur Gegegenwart (1997), pp. 141-152; G. Hägele, “Top oder Flop? Zur Produktion der Klosterdruckerei St. Ulrich und Afra in Augsburg,” Wolfenbütteler Notizen zur Buchgeschichte, vol. 39 (2014), pp. 133-152.
Item #4126

Price: $37,500.00