Antiquarian Auctions

Auction #72 begins on
24 Jan 2019 16:30 GMT

Jean de Charlier de Gerson

Original INCUNABULA leaf from Gerson's "OPERA"

Published: Johann Grueninger, Strasbourg, July 3, 1488

Edition: Second

Reserve: $40


Estimate: $60

Bidding opens: 24 Jan 16:30 GMT

Bidding closes: 31 Jan 16:30 GMT

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This original incunabula leaf was printed by Johann Grueninger on July 3, 1488. The printer gave this exact date of publication in the colophon of the book. The colophon of early printed books contained all the important bibliographical information about their publication i.e. date, place of publication, printer etc., much like a copyright page in books published today.

This leaf is from the second volume of a four volume set of Incunabula written by the noted mystic and medieval doctor of theology Jean de Charlier de Gerson (b.1363-d.1429). In 1394, at 31 years of age, Gerson was raised to the doctorate of theology and in 1395 Pope Benedict XIII chose him to the important position of Chancellor of Notre-Dame and of the University. This position propelled Gerson into the Great Schism of the West, between the warring Papal powers in Rome and Avignon. He was also one of the most eminent orators of his time and preached frequently, either in French or Latin, before the university, at court, the principal churches of the capital or in his parish of Saint Jean-en-Greve. He was also one of the first to recognize and proclaim the supernatural vocation of Joan of Arc. He died in the French city of Lyons on July 12, 1429. After Gerson's death his many sermons and letters were first reproduced by hand, his complete works, however, were only published well after the introduction of printing, first in 1483.

This leaf comes from the second volume of the second edition of his Opera which was printed in Strasbourg. It has wide margins and contains 53 lines of unadorned Latin text printed in double columns with versal indents and guide letters. Two small marginal worm-holes are visible, else the condition of the leaf is still fine after over 530 years. Johann Grueninger is generally accepted as the printer of this four-volume work although Johann Pruss was involved in the financing of it as well as having contributed two sets of type for the third volume. It was edited by Peter Schott and Johann Geiler.

The publication date of this leaf is very interesting from a South African point of view, as Bartholomeo Diaz was still on his return journey to Portugal after having discovered the Cape of Good Hope just two months earlier.

  • Overall Condition: Very Good
  • Size: 310 x 215 mm

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