Alexander, de Villa Dei [Browse]
[Netherlands, Utrecht?. Printer of the Speculum. ca 1463-1470].
Dutch Prototypography. "Chancery 2o (sheet size 203 x 299 mm). 2 leaves (of 42): fols. 29.30 [4/3.4]. 32 lines. Type: 1:110G (HPT type 1).


  • Rubricated: two 2-line Lombard initials, capital strokes in red, single long stroke through initial capitals of each line. Formerly a pastedown of a folio volume (first line and most of line 2 of each page trimmed away, glue marks on the outside of the sheet [29r.30v] causing some partial losses of ink not affecting legibility, several small wormholes through text touching 7 letters) "A rare example from the first Netherlandish press. Several dozen undated editions printed in 7 or 8 related types (cf. HPT I pp. 4-9) are designated as Dutch Prototypography, predating the earliest named and dated Netherlandish presses of Johannes de Westfalia and Thierry Martens, both active from 1473.
  • Type 1, used in the present fragment, was employed for the printing of two Latin and two Dutch editions of the 'Speculum humanae salvationis' (CA 1569-70 and 1571-72), both illustrated with blockbook-like woodcuts, and numerous editions, all printed on parchment, of the standard Latin school-grammars Donatus 'Ars minor' and Alexander de Villa Dei's more advanced, metered 'Doctrinale'; three editions of Cato 'Disticha' and two unidentified liturgical manuals (CA 1174 and 1459) in this type also survive. "Prototypography type 1 was the fount of a printer of parchment text- books who also produced texts of the 'Speculum' for a 'printsnider', or maker of woodcuts" (HPT I, p. 4). Other than the four 'Speculum' editions, only fragments, most removed from bindings, survive of the editions printed in type 1. Of the undetermined number of editions, primarily of Donatus and Alexander de Villa Dei, printed in the later types, only two complete copies are recorded (Doctrinale: Oates 3300; Donatus: IDL 1584, both printed in type 5). "On the basis of paper stock evidence, Allan Stevenson dated the earliest of the 'Speculum' editions (CA 1570), to ca. 1466-67; rubrication inscriptions of 1471 and 1472 (cf. BMC IX 1) also point to a pre-1473 date. But the most important contextual evidence for the dates of Dutch prototypography consists of a manuscript from the Leander van Ess library at Union Theological Seminary (Ms. 14), containing three separate texts written in Cologne in 1463 and preserved in its original and apparently strictly contemporary Cologne binding, whose rear pastedown is a fragment from one of the Type 1 'Doctrinale' editions (an unrecorded setting, differing from the ex-Pforzheimer fragment of the same bifolium, now at the Hague, Royal Library, IDL 183). The van Ess volume provided persuasive evidence for activity of this earliest Dutch press before 1463. (See P. Needham, "Fragments in books: Dutch Prototypography in the van Ess Library", "So precious a foundation": The Library of Leander van Ess at the Burke Library of Union Theological Seminary, New York 1996, pp. 85-110.
  • "The present bifolium is from the same setting at the British Library bifolium IB. 47005, containing lines 1774-1898 of Dietrich REichling's edition of the Doctrinale (Berlin 1893), with additional lines and omitted lines as specified by BMC. C262a; BMC IX, 3 (IB. 47005); GW 936, no. XVI; Goff A-417.".
Binding note
Bifolium on vellum. Chancery folio.
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