RAINERIUS DE PISIS
Pantheologia, sive Summa Universae Theologiae
Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 12 February 1477 [The colophon reads "pridie Idus Februarij," erroneously dated in BMC as 14 February]. Two volumes, folio. (18 1/4 x 12 1/2 x 5 inches). 859 (of 863) leaves, unfoliated and unsigned; lacking two blank leaves (32 and 190) in the first volume, and two blank leaves (441 and 863) in the second volume, else complete (blanks 1, 33, 102, and 146 present in volume one). Text printed in two columns, gothic letter throughout, large margins. Initials added by hand, including a fully-illuminated fourteen-line initial on leaf 34 in volume one, done in green with a red background, blue and yellow frame, white tracery and large foliate extensions in the vertical margin; eighteen other large capitals (some with grotesque faces) done in penwork in red, blue, and green; smaller initials added in red and blue, with initial strokes and paragraph marks in red.
Contemporary German blind-tooled sheepskin over bevelled wooden boards, corner and central brass bosses, four original catches and one of four original clasps intact on both volumes (three clasps and all leather straps replaced; both volumes rebacked), parchment index tabs on fore-edges of leaves.
Provenance: Monastery at Brixen in the Tyrol (sixteenth century inscription on initial blank); Eric Sexton (number 115, with his gold-tooled morocco bookplate and shelf label); his sale, Christies New York, 8 April 1981, lot 111
Incunable edition of the oldest theological encyclopedia and one of the largest books produced during the Middle Ages: an extraordinary example from the library of Eric Sexton.
A close reprint of Koberger's 1474 edition, published the sale year as the first edition of Johann Sensenschmidt and by his sometime partner Heinrich Kefer. The theological summa of Dominican Raniero Giordani of Pisa, which was organized alphabetically as a dictionary of important theological concepts. Written ca. 1331 and influenced by the works of Thomas Aquinas, the work became popular in the fifteenth century, when seven editions were published, including the present by Koberger. "The Pantheologia of Rainerius de Pisa, the Dominican who died in 1351, must be one of the longest books ever composed in the Middle Ages. (Taking into account all the many abbreviations, I calculate at a conservative estimate that this means that the Pantheologia contains something in the region of 1,350,000 words.) [...] After [the] massive productions [six editions in the incunabula period] (the size of which never struck terror into fifteenth century printers)" (Quoted from Notes on the bibliography of Rainerius de Pisis, by Dennis E. Rhodes). This remarkable copy sold for $9900 in the Sexton sale in 1981.
Goff R8; HC 13018*; Pell Ms 10008 (9797); CIBN R-6; Neveu 507; Richard 419; Zehnacker 1969; Polain (B) 3314; IGI 8271; Bod-inc R-004; Sheppard 1434-1436; Rhodes (Oxford Colleges) 1497; Pr 1972; BMC II 413; BSB-Ink R-5; GW M36940.