Guillermus of Paris

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GUILLERMUS of Paris: Postilla super epistolas et evangelia de tempore et sanctis. Et pro defunctis. Basle, Nicolaus Kessler, 1 October 1492.

Super-chancery quarto (21.3 x 15.2 cm.), 162 unnumbered leaves (a–m8n6a–f8g h6), including two blanks, fols. [102] (n6) and [162] ((final) h6). Title-page with large woodcut of Crucifixion, 52 smaller woodcuts in text. Some light soiling and staining, a few wormholes to blank margins towards beginning, fols. [73] (k1) and [80] (k8) remargined in blank (the latter also with a small paper flaw, affecting two words on verso), fol. [76] (k4) with repair to blank outer margin, overall a good copy, rubricated throughout. Vellum bifolia of fifteenth-century breviary as endleaves. In a remboîtage of blind-stamped calf over wooden boards, large brass clasp, rebacked, cracks to spine, small tear to head. Contemporary ownership inscription on f.f.e.p. recto. A fine copy.

Illustrated guide to the excerpts from the Epistles and Evangelists read at church services throughout the year (the Lessons), the text was first issued in 1437. The importance of the book is shown in the fact that more than 100 incunable editions were produced (if a reasonable estimate of 400 copies per edition is accepted, this suggests over 40,000 copies in circulation!) The book’s naïve woodcuts, some of considerable charm, appeared in a Basle edition of 28 July 1491. The ‘British Museum Catalogue’, describing this earlier printing, suggests that the pictures were copied from earlier Lyons editions. Schreiber, writing about this present edition, suggests the influence of the Strassburg ‘Plenarium’ of 1482.

Goff G 682. BMC III 770. Schreiber 4147. Hain 8279. The Kraus copy, Catalogue 182, number 85.