Amsterdam International Antiquarian Book & Map Fair

Selected Highlights


Antiquariaat Forum
Westrenen, Tuurdijk 16
3997 MS 't Goy-houten
The Netherlands


Laurens R. Hesselink


+31-30-6011955 +31-30-6011955



First edition of the most important of the earliest books printed in Zwolle
[SERVASANCTUS DE FAENZA and others] (spuriously attributed to Saint BONAVENTURA). [Sermones de tempore et de sanctis]. (Colophon: Zwolle, [Johannes de Vollenhoe], 1479). Small (Chancery) folio (27.5 x 20.5 cm). With one 5-line and hundreds of 2- and 3-line spaces left for initials, filled in with manuscript "Lombardic" capitals in red; manuscript paragraph marks in red; and capitals rubricated throughout. Set entirely in a single textura gothic type (103 mm/20 lines) in 2 columns of 39 lines to the page. Early 18th-century tanned sheepskin.

First edition of a collection of Latin sermons for the entire year, spuriously attributed to the Italian Franciscan Saint Bonaventura (1221-1274), still popular today and still published under his name. The great majority were actually written by his fellow Franciscan Servasanctus de Faenza (d. ca. 1300), renowned for writing sermons that blended learning with popular themes and for his positive view of penance as a process for healing ills, rather than a punishment for sins.
No earlier dated book is known to have been printed at Zwolle, but a single surviving fragmentary copy of an almanac for the year 1478 was probably printed there late in 1477 and a few undated books may have been printed there in 1478 (within the borders of today's Netherlands, only Utrecht had a clearly documented printing office before 1477). Three Zwolle books are dated 1479 and one of those is dated 21 December 1479, so either the present folio edition of sermons or (less likely) the quarto edition of Pope John XXI, Summulae logicales (98 ll.), also dated 1479 with no further specification, appears to be the first dated publication. The printing office that produced all these works was formerly thought to have been established by Peter van Os, but it is now thought to have been established by Johannes de Vollenhoe and taken over by Van Os, probably after 21 December 1479 and certainly before 14 April 1480. The present book is by far its most extensive production before 1480.
The earliest recorded printed leaf numbers and quire signatures both date from ca. 1470, and printers in the Low Countries introduced them later than printers in Italy and Germany. The present book has neither leaf numbers nor signatures in the normal sense of the word, but its double-page openings have alphanumeric labels as headlines. The double-page openings have a series number (running from i to xiiii) centred in the right headline and a letter (running from a to z followed by "&", giving 24 characters) centred in the left headline. In this early period when conventions remained fluid, Vollenhoe was clearly experimenting. Margaret M. Smith, "Printed foliation: ...", Gutenberg-Jahrbuch (1988), pp. 54-70, records few examples of numbered double-page openings and none before ca. 1482, and mentions no system like the present one.
The initial blank leaf a1 appears to survive, but the other three blank leaves are absent. With a full-page Latin religious text on the recto of the blank a1 in a contemporary hand, occasional (sometimes extensive) contemporary and later marginal manuscript notes, and an inscription shaved at the head of the contents. With one leaf detached, the last leaf reattached (to a paper stub) at an early date, a few of the headlines shaved, a couple worm holes in the foot margin in the first third of the book and a tear running a few mm into the text of one leaf, but otherwise in good condition. The binding is shabby, with the sides rubbed and some damage to the backstrip, hinges and corners. The most important of the earliest books printed in Zwolle: the first edition of 13th-century sermons still popular today and a fascinating early experiment with printed alphanumeric labels for double-page openings.
Exhibitor: Antiquariaat Forum

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