De amicitia christiana.[Cologne, Printer of the 'Historia S. Albani' (Johann Guldenschaff or Conrad Winters, de Homborch?), not after 1472]

BLOIS Petrus de (1472])


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Rubricated, initials supplied in red.

Sm. 4to (200 x 137mm). 16 ff (last blank). Gothic type, 27 lines. 18th-century calf-backed pale red and blue marbled boards, spine gilt with Arenberg library paper label at head (blank leaves pad out the volume at beginning and end).

Extremely rare first edition of Peter of Blois' treatise On friendship and the only one printed in the 15th century. ISTC records 21 copies in 18 locations worldwide and only the Huntington Library in the U.S.

The 12th-century statesman and theologian Peter of Blois (c. 1125-1212), whose career brought him to England where he held posts in Canterbury and Bath, remained at the heart of Angevin affairs under Henry II from the late 1160s. He is known mostly for his 200 or so letters, which provide a rich historical source for the period, while the present treatise was one of a small number of theological and spiritual works composed towards the end of his life, c. 1195–1212. As Southern notes, “Peter began to take a new interest in the spiritual life of the Cistercians and Carthusians and in theological and devotional questions. These interests led to a new series of works: On friendship, On penance, On confession, On faith, On the episcopal office. In substance none of these works was original, but to all of them he brought a new style and new illustrative quotations. In particular, his Tractatus de fide was based on Archbishop Baldwin's Liber de commendatione fidei; and his treatise On friendship was an elaboration of the work of the Cistercian Ailred of Rievaulx, to which Peter added many classical quotations".

An interesting feature of this large copy is the rare survival in the fore-margin throughout the volume of two pin holes, at the top and bottom of each leaf. The pins fixed the paper in the press before it was brought down on to the inked type and enabled the careful printer to make the two pages on two sides of a leaf cover each other exactly line for line, a matter much affecting the appearance of the book. Evidence of their use is rare as most were removed in the trimming and binding process.

Provenance: 1. Dukes of Arenberg, their paper label near the top of the spine, with no. 254(?) in ink. The principal bibliophile in the family was Engelbert August, 8th Duke of Arenberg (1824-1875), while the 10th Duke of Arenberg, Engelbert Karl (1899-1974) ordered the sales of the library in the 1950s. Many books from the collection have an oval or rectangular label at the head of the spine, with blue serrated border and ink number. Books from this library are not to be confused with the other well known Arenberg collection in Nordkirchen. 2. Green morocco booklabel inside front cover of the Schmitz-Otto family of Cologne, noted bibliophiles, with their acquisition note from Gilhofer and Ranschburg of Luzern, 1959, on rear pastedown with catalogue note tipped in.

ISTC ip00455000. (21 copies: Huntington only in US). H 3241. GW M32106. BMC I, 216. Goff, P-455. Voullième, Köln 914. Bradshaw 11.

Refs: See ODNB entry by R.W. Southern. Lars Hermanson, Friendship, Love, and Brotherhood in Medieval Northern Europe, c. 1000-1200 (Leiden: Brill, 2019).

Stock Code: 242114

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