ALVAROTUS, Jacobus Super feudis (With additions by Matthaeus de Corbinellis and Montorius Mascarellus)

Venice, [Printer of the 1477 Alvarotus (Roman Type)], 1477, 10 July


FIRST EDITION. Folio. 372 unnumbered leaves. a–c10, d , e10, f , g–l10, [m–o , p4, q10, r–t , v10.] A , B–D10, E , F10, G , H10, I , K–N10, O , P , Q , QQ , R–T10, V¹². Roman letter in double column. Capital spaces with guide letters, small red initials in the index leaves, capital spaces left blank but the first several filled by a just later hand, including three with charming grotesque heads, contemporary manuscript foliation and subject headline, purchase inscription recording its price of 5 rhenish gulden and dated at Nuremberg, 1478, at head of pastedown, two further early inscriptions below, dated 1494, 1509 in a slightly different hand, one inscription erased, Jodocus Oethaeus of Nordhausen, 1568 manuscript inscription, with his manuscript title above, on recto of first leaf, another, Matthaeus Gerstenbrand, 1692 at centre, two early shelf marks on pastedown, another later one in lower outer corner of first leaf, early annotations in several hands throughout, with pointing hands, occasional underlinings. Small scattered single wormholes in the first few and final few quires touching some letters, occasional very light age toning, inks splash on one leaf, very minor margin waterstaining to upper margin in places, with the odd thumb mark. A fine copy, crisp and clean on thick paper with very large margins, in beautiful contemporary south German (possibly Nuremberg) allum tawed pigskin over thick wooden boards, covers triple blind ruled to a panel design, outer panel on upper cover with repeated blind stamped rose tools (EDBB s016008) in upper and lower section, blind stamped rose bush tool to both side sections, on lower cover the rose tools are to the corners with another floriated tool at sides, rose bush tool stamped above and below, central panels triple blind ruled in crossed diagonals, with Philipp Baumann’s armorial blind stamp (EDBD s016004), a fine Madonna and Child stamp (EDBD s016009), a small bird stamp (EDBD s016005) all stamped in centres, spine with large raised bands triple blind ruled at centre of compartments, early manuscript title at head, traces of clasps and ties, scattered worm holes in both covers.

A splendid and most interesting copy of this finely printed incunable, exceptionally rare, with an equally rare early binding with armorial ownership stamps. This incunable is the only book assigned to this press at Venice. The distinctive armorial stamp on the covers are those of Philipp Bauman. Some have identified this stamp, and the other stamps associated with it (Designated to the same workshop [EDBD w002384] by the Deutsche Einbanddatenbank), as identifying a binder. While the stamp naming Philipp Baumann could perhaps identify the binder, Kyriss (GBJB 1957) considered it an owner’s stamp, a view which seems to be born out by the relative rarity of the stamps, and the fact that they generally do not appear in other combinations. Most interestingly all the known copies of books bearing Baumann’s stamps are also on law books, which probably identifies him as a lawyer or as a scholar of the law. It seems improbable that the only works surviving from one bindery were law books. Very few 15th-century ownership stamps are known at all, and such an early one with what is also probably the owners original purchase note make this copy particularly interesting. The Deutsche Einbanddatenbank states that the bindings with these stamps are South German though the purchase inscription recording its price of 5 rhenish gulden and dated Nuremberg, 1478 could probably help identify the precise location of the binding. There is no direct evidence that the purchase note is in Bauman’s hand but as the book was printed at Venice less than a year before it was bound it seems unlikely it could be another’s.

The Super feudis is, an important commentary by the celebrated lawyer and judge, Jacobus Alvarotus, noted for his learning in both civil and canon law. Alvarotus was an eminent feudal lawyer, a native of Padua, who studied at the university there. Having obtained his degree he lectured on feudal law for 16 years, probably at Padua. He subsequently filled the office of Judge in the cities of Florence and Siena. He died at the age of 68 in 1453. This was his major work, though some of his consilia were published in the C16th. GW had assigned one other edition to the Printer of the 1477 Alvarotus, but CIBN has subsequently assigned it to Beretin Convento.

His works are particularly rare: no copy of any 15th-century edition is recorded as having been on the market in over 60 years. A beautiful and important copy, with interesting contemporary and early annotation.

BMC V 259. Goff A-545. H 886. BSB-Ink A-457. Madsen 157. Sheehan: Vaticana I-153. ISTC ia00545000.
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