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    An Original Leaf from the Catholicon of Johannes Balbus

    [GUTENBERG, Johann]. [BALBUS, Johannes]. [Catholicon]. [Mainz: Peter Schoeffer (?) for Konrad Humery (?), ca. 1469].

    A single leaf, containing the dictionary entries for "cedula" to "cenomia," from the first edition, second impression of the Catholicon. Folio (14.4375 x 11.3125 inches; 367 x 288 mm.). Text in double columns of sixty-six lines. Rubricated in red with one-line Lombard initials (twenty-six on the recto and twenty-six on the verso) and paragraph marks (five on the recto and eight on the verso). Printed on Galliziani paper, with the watermark present.

    Two-and-one-quarter-inch tear to the lower gutter margin, repaired on the verso with archival tape. Two slivers of tape residue at the top edge where the leaf was affixed to the mat. Slight mat burn visible on the recto. Slight edge browning. Small stain in the lower blank corner on the recto. Slight marginal soiling on the verso.

    This leaf was matted, glazed, and framed, and has now been removed from the frame. The brown paper affixed to the back of the frame is inscribed twice, with the second inscription reading: "Original leaf from The Catholicon / of Johannes Balbus. Printed in / Mainz, 1460, by John Gutenberg."

    This leaf is almost certainly from those acquired by E. Byrne Hacket and broken up by him for the Brick Row Book Shop in 1936, and sold with an essay on the book by Margaret Stillwell (not present here).

    Affixed to the back of the mat is a Brick Row Book Shop card (36 Mount Vernon St., Houston, Texas 77006) containing a Typed Note: "Sent at request of unknown, unnamed, anonymous & altogether furtive admirer...No fingerprints on cheque or envelope..."

    A single leaf from the first edition, second impression of the Catholicon, printed from two-line slugs on Galliziani paper in 1468 or 1469. "As early as 1905 Gottfried Zedler recognized that the Catholicon edition dated Mainz 1460 exists in three impressions printed from a single setting of type but associated with three presses (with different pinhole patterns) and printed on three distinct paper stocks. In 1982 Paul Needham presented evidence that the three issues were printed at three different times, according to the datable use of their paper stocks: copies on Bull's Head paper (with which are classed the vellum copies) in 1460, copies on Galliziani paper ca. 1469, and copies on Crown and Tower papers ca. 1472. Moreover, Needham argued that the three impressions were produced, not from standing type, but from two-line 'slugs' cast from the type and capable of being reassembled for subsequent impressions. According to this theory, the first impression of the Catholicon was produced by Gutenberg himself in 1460; the 'slugs' then passed into the possession of Konrad Humery with Gutenberg's other typographic material after the latter's death in 1468 and were re-used by Humery, probably with the help of Peter Schoeffer, ca. 1469. In this view, which has aroused prolonged controversy among incunabulists, the 1460 Catholicon represents not only Gutenberg's last production but also his final achievement, the invention of an early form of stereotyping" (The Nakles Collection of Incunabula, Christie's New York, 17 April 2000, Lot 2).

    Goff B-20.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    4th-5th Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,043

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