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(INCUNABULAR LEAF WITH ILLUMINATION). DE CIVITATE DEI by  AURELIUS AUGUSTINUS - 1470 - from Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Medieval Manuscripts (SKU: ST16379-202)


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(INCUNABULAR LEAF WITH ILLUMINATION). DE CIVITATE DEI: From the 1470 Sweynheym & Pannartz "City of God" With a Very Striking White-Vine Initial Glittering with Gold


  • Used
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Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
McMinnville, Oregon
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About This Item

Single column, 46 lines in roman type.
Attractively matted.
WITH A LARGE (40 x 50 mm.), LOVELY WHITE VINE-STEM INITIAL IN COLORS AND BURNISHED GOLD, with graceful marginal extensions.
Goff A-1232; BMC IV, 10; ISTC ia01232000; PMM 3 (1467 printing).

Faint dampstain at lower left (well away from text), but A BEAUTIFUL LEAF, clean, fresh, and bright with generous margins, the gold initial gleaming.

This is a lovely leaf from the fourth printing of one of the world's most influential theological works, issued by the prototypographers of Rome. Aside from Gutenberg and his immediate associates, there are no figures more important in the early history of printing than Sweynheym and Pannartz, the earliest printers outside Germany. First at Subiaco and later in Rome, they produced an imposing catalogue of first editions of ancient authors, which for the first time systematically exploited the potential of the new technology as a means for disseminating humanistic texts to a large audience. In 1467, they issued the first printing of St. Augustine's "City of God"--a work that PMM says "pervaded the whole Middle Ages" and "remained authoritative until the 17th and 18th centuries"--from their Subiaco press. Our leaf, printed in their stately roman type, is enhanced with a very fine illuminated initial in the elegant Italian white-vine style, with rich, jewel-tone colors and thickly applied burnished gold that still gleams brightly. The contrast between the whiteness of the leaf and the richness of the initial's paint and gold makes this a memorable artifact from the first printers in Rome.


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Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Medieval Manuscripts US (US)
Bookseller's Inventory #
Book condition
Conradus Sweynheym and Arnoldus Pannartz
Place of Publication
Date Published
394 x 277 mm. (15 1/2 x 11").
394 x 277 mm. (15 1/2 x 11").

Terms of Sale

Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Medieval Manuscripts

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About the Seller

Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Medieval Manuscripts

Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers. member since 2006
McMinnville, Oregon
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About Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Medieval Manuscripts

Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books an Manuscripts was established in 1978 on a ping pong table in a basement in Kalamazoo, Michigan. From the beginning, its founder was willing to sell a range of material, but over the years, the business has gravitated toward historical artifacts that are physically attractive in some way--illuminated material, fine bindings, books printed on vellum, fore-edge paintings, beautiful typography and paper, impressive illustration. Today, the company still sells a wide range of things, from (scruffy) ninth century leaves to biblical material from all periods to Wing and STC imprints to modern private press books to artists' bindings. While we are forgiving about condition when something is of considerable rarity, we always try to obtain the most attractive copies possible of whatever we offer for sale.


Some terminology that may be used in this description includes:

A new book is a book previously not circulated to a buyer. Although a new book is typically free of any faults or defects, "new"... [More]
A book in fine condition exhibits no flaws. A fine condition book closely approaches As New condition, but may lack the... [More]