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    A Rare Edition of an Important Text of German Humanism

    Albrecht von Eyb. Margarita poetica. [Part I only (all published)]. [Paris: Ulrich Gering, 29 November 1478].

    Tall quarto (11.0625 x 7.125 inches; 281 x 181 mm.). [141] (of 142) leaves. Bound without the final blank leaf, but with the initial blank leaf. Collation: a-r8 s6 (-s6). Roman type. Thirty-six to thirty-eight lines. Capital spaces with guide letters. Opening initial (a2 recto) supplied in red and blue with handsome floral illumination by a French hand, other initials and paragraph marks supplied in red and blue throughout.

    Late nineteenth-century brown morocco. Covers decoratively panelled in blind, spine ruled in blind and lettered in gilt in compartments, with four double and two single raised bands, edges stained dark brown from an earlier binding. Binding lightly rubbed in a few places, slight split to upper and lower front joint and upper rear joint, now strengthened with tissue. A few wormholes at the beginning and end, some just affecting text; faint dampstaining in the upper blank margin of b1 and b2, very slightly spotted and soiled in places. Overall, an excellent copy, the paper in very fresh condition. Housed in a quarter light brown calf over linen board clamshell case, the spine lettered in gilt with six raised bands.

    Provenance: Anthonius Grouche, priest of St.-Loup, Amiens, with his contemporary ink ownership inscription at the foot of s5 verso (partly erased): "huius libri verus est possessor dominus Anthonius grouche," motto "semper presumit seva perturbata conscientia" written in gothic script, and paraphs at end; given to his brother Frater Petrus Grouche: contemporary inscription at the foot of leaf a2: "Dominus anthonius Grouche sacerdos ecclesie divi lupi de ambianis dedit hunc librum dilecto sibi fratri fratri petri grouche orate pro eo"; ink ownership marks of Grouche at foot of s5 recto (partly erased); Celestines of Amiens, seventeenth-century ink ownership inscription "Celestinorum ambianinsium" at the head of leaf a2; Paravicini Library (sale, Sotheby's London, 22 June 1818, Lot 156, to Richard Heber, with Heber's inscription: "June 1818, sale of imported books by Sotheby" on the front free endpaper); Bertram, 4th Earl of Ashburnham, with his shelfmark "12.F" on the front pastedown (sale, Sotheby's London, 3 July 1897, Lot 1539); George Dunn of Woolley Hall, with his inscriptions and bookplate on the front pastedown (sale, Sotheby's London, 22 November 1917, Lot 3111); C. S. Ascherson, with his bookplate on the front pastedown; Albert Ehrman, Broxbourne Library, bookplates on the front and rear pastedowns (sale, Sotheby's London, 8 May 1978, Lot 424); W. R. H. Jeudwine, with his bookplate on rear pastedown (sale, Bloomsbury, London, 18 September 1984, Lot 13, to Abrams); George Abrams, with his bookplate on the rear pastedown (his sale Sotheby's, 16 November 1989, Lot 47, and sold again at Sotheby's New York, 12 December 2001, Lot 37, $9,000).

    A rare edition of this important work of German Humanism. Written in 1459, and entitled Margarita poetica in honor of the author's mother, Margarete von Wolmershausen, it was first published in Nuremberg by Johann Senschschmidt in 1472, and remained a popular manual of rhetoric for many years. The text was of selected passages from classical and contemporary authors, including Cicero, Virgil, Ovid, and Petrarch.

    Albrecht von Eyb, "one of the earliest German humanists, [was] born in 1420 near Anabach in Franconia; died in 1475. After preliminary studies at Erfurt he went to Italy and devoted himself to humanistic study at the Universities of Pavia and Bologna. He returned to Germany in 1451, having in the meantime been appointed canon at Eichstätt and Bamberg. From 1452 to 1459 he was again a student at Bologna, winning the degree of doctor of canon and civil law. He was also honoured by an appointment as chamberlain to Pius II. After his return to Germany he resided chiefly at Eichstätt. In 1462 he became archdeacon of Würzburg, not, however, without encountering violent opposition from the Bishop of Würzburg, who hated Eyb as a partisan of the Hohenzollern Margrave, Albrecht Achilles. Little is known of his last years. Eyb's best known and most important work is his "Ehebüchlein" (Book on Marriage), in which he discusses the question whether a man should take a lawful wife or not. It was published in 1472...Another work of Eyb is the "Margarita poetica" (Nuremberg, 1472), a textbook of humanistic rhetoric, consisting of a collection of passages in prose and verse from Latin authors, to which are added specimens of humanistic eloquence" (Catholic Encyclopedia).

    Three Paris editions were printed of Part I only of Margarita poetica, omitting the many exempla of Part II, the first two by the shop "Au Soufflet Vert," the third by Ulrich Gering. In early 1478, Gering's long association with Martin Crantz and Michael Friburger (who are heard of no more a printers) came to an end. His first printing under his single name began in April 1478. The printing from 1478 onward was done with two new Roman types, which Gering used both for classical and humanist, as well as theological, texts.

    ISTC records only eleven copies, of which at least one is imperfect, and of which only one is in America (Brown University).

    BMC VIII, page 22. Goff E-172. GW 9540. Hain-Copinger 6821. ISTC ie00172000. Oates 2879. Pellechet 4705. Polain 1450. Proctor 7858.


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