Close XYL-23 St George; St Maurelius

 [Italy (Ferrara), c.1520]. Woodcut book cover with Italian inscriptions.

 Schr. 1453m. Two woodcuts printed side by side to provide decorative covering paper for a book binding; separated by a vertical woodcut strip with a floral and lattice design for the spine. The design for the upper board has a roundel at the centre containing a three-quarter figure of ‘s. mavrelio’ (St Maurelius, patron saint of Ferrara – the s reversed), with halo and bishop’s mitre, holding a model of a walled town in his right hand and a crozier in his left. In the corresponding roundel on the design for the lower cover ‘s zorzi.’ (St George) is portrayed on horseback slaying the dragon with his lance. Both medallions are surrounded by a panel with a formal design, in white on black, made of foliage, with urns and winged asses’ heads. One of two recorded copies, the other known from the binding of a copy of Phalaris, Epistolae, translated by Francesco Aretino (Cremona: Franciscus Ricardus de Luere for Dominicus de Zavarisiis, 13 Jan. 1505), formerly in the Dyson Perrins collection; see A. W. Pollard, in Catalogue Dyson Perrins, 147 no. 170; Dyson Perrins sale (London: Sotheby’s, 17 June 1946), lot 219; J. R. Abbey sale (London: Sotheby’s, 21 June 1965), part I, lot 546. See also M. Sander, ‘Copertine illustrate del Rinascimento’, Maso Finiguerra, 3 (1938), 26–37. The printed covers appear to have been been designed for Ferrara booksellers, who may or may not also have been binders. Although most likely manufactured in Ferrara, the covers were not necessarily used exclusively there.

ills. Catalogue Dyson Perrins, no. 170, frontispiece and pl. facing 146 (both woodcuts); Hind I 75 (Dyson Perrins copy); Nixon, Broxbourne, 37–8 no. 16, with full description and illustration of the Bodleian copy; Baer, Holzschnitte, no. 10; Sander, Copertine, pl. III.

refs. Schreiber, Handbuch, III 101–2; Hind I 74–5.

copy Chancery sheet, now no longer intact and divided into two pieces. 215 × c.156 mm (woodcut 207 × 154 mm); 215 × 154 mm (woodcut 207 × 149 mm). Originally 304 × 426; these measurements include the strips which now serve as turn-ins. Chain-lines vertical (in relation to the two woodcuts). Printed in black ink in a press on one side of fine paper. No watermark visible. The reverse, which is now pasted down and cannot be seen, is printed with a typographic broadside in Italian set out in long lines and with a woodcut image of unidentifiable design (width 45 mm) centred at the head of the sheet; the upper part of the broadside is on the reverse of the Maurelius woodcut. The Dyson Perrins copy is printed on the reverse of a similar printed item. Uncoloured. Both covers are worn and damaged. Of the decorative strip for the spine only a minute fragment remains; see Nixon’s comments, based on the evidence of the Dyson Perrins copy, and Sander, Copertine, pl. III.

Binding: The two woodcuts and the spine piece provide the decorative covering of the sixteenth-century inboard binding of a volume in chancery 4o (208 × 153 mm) containing: 1. Paulus Venetus, Tractatus summularum logice (Venice: Lucantonio Giunta, 29 Dec. 1517); 2. Menghus Blanchellus, In Pauli Veneti logicam commentum cum questionibus nonnullis (Venice: Johannes Leoviler, for Franciscus de Madiis, 21 Mar. 1488) (B-352). 216 × 156 × 34 mm. There are no endleaves. The textblock is sewn all-along on two flat, slit supports of tawed leather, though the sewing is now loose and in places broken. The boards are a laminate of two pasteboards, the sewing supports pasted between the two layers of board at the spine-edge. The remains of three transverse parchment spine liners are pasted to the inner faces of the boards; only the centre liner survives across the spine. There are no endbands. Prior to covering with the printed paper, the spine was lined with a further layer of paper consisting of five pieces and extending onto the outer face of the boards some 25–50 mm at the spine-edge; three are from a sheet of plain paper, whereas the two narrower strips which covered the sewing supports display woodcut printing in white on black similar to though not the same as the borders of the cover. The small remaining fragment of the spine covering is pasted to the centre parchment spine liner and consists of two layers of paper. Each board originally had two tawed ties, pierced through the boards and pastedowns, pasted to the boards, and covered with plain paper patches. These ties are now cut flush with the boards. Two later holes are pierced through each board for replacement ties, now missing. The printed covering paper on the outer faces of the boards appears to have been coated with a layer of glue or size, giving it a warm light-brown colour. There are some paper fibres caught in this layer of size and the remains of nine red sealing-wax (?) spots, six to the upper board and three to the lower. It is not clear what these spots relate to. Kept in a red quarter-morocco case with the title of Blanchellus’ treatise in gold, ‘in ferrarese paper covers with woodcut designs’, and the Broxbourne shelfmark.

Provenance: ‘Loci Sancte Marie de [erased] 1649’. ‘Conventu S. Antonij Fran’ (item 1). Maciano, province of Urbino, Franciscan house (?) (item 2). Montemaggio, province of Urbino, Observant Friars Minor; modern library stamp. For details of the evidence for early ownership see B-352. Albert Ehrman (1890–1969); armorial book-plate; purchased from H. P. Kraus (New York) in 1950 for £450; ledger no. ‘R 894’. Presented in 1978 by John Ehrman.

shelfmark: Broxb. 30.13.