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Rare Books Catalogues

George Robert Minkoff is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers. He has been a rare book dealer for over fifty years. His catalogues are very eclectic, covering a variety of interests - from incunables to modern first editions.


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Dante Alighieri. La Commedia.


Text in Italian. Edited by Pietro da Figino. With the commentary by Cristoforo Landino.   Superbly illustrated with a splendid full-page woodcut within a historiated border at opening of Inferno, and 99 smaller woodcuts in text; plus numerous black and white woodcut initials of various sizes. Folio. Modern dark-brown morocco binding, with sides elaborately paneled in blind, spine with five raised bands and gilt lettering. Enclosed in slipcase with matching morocco trimmings. Endpapers apparently retained from an earlier binding.

Venice: Bartolomeo de Zanni, 17 June 1507. First post-incunable folio edition, and the first fully-illustrated post-incunable edition. This edition includes three small pieces: the Italian translations of the prayers Ave Maria, Credo, and Pater Noster, attributed (most likely spuriously) to Dante. (Adams D-86; Batines I, p.68-9; Essling 435; Mambelli 22; Sander 2319; Olschki, Choix 4389; Panzer VIII, p. 384-5.)


Despite using the traditional incunable layout and including the 1481 Landino commentary, the text of La Commedia in this curious edition is already that of the celebrated 1502 Aldine recension superintended by Pietro Bembo. Most of the woodcuts are from the Benalius-Capcasa edition printed 3 March 1491 (except the one illustrating Paradiso I, which is from the de Plasiis edition of 18 November 1491), and are attributed to the Master of the Pico Pliny, a prolific miniaturist whose illuminations appear in a large number of manuscripts and incunables dating from 1464 to 1494.


The first quire (aa10) contains the introductory essays by Landino and Ficino from the celebrated 1481 Florentine edition, including Landino’s Sito, forma et misura dello’nferno et statura de giganti et di Lucifero, Life of Dante, and several pieces celebrating cultural superiority of Florence. Colophon at foot of leaf L7v. Registro on leaf L8r, with woodcut white-on-black printer’s device with initials B.Z. at foot (verso blank).


Moderate (and gradually diminishing) damp-stain to margin of top outer corner. Occasional light soiling (mostly to the opening and final leaves). One of the smaller woodcuts with a partial and non-detracting early “coloring” in brown ink. The 8 leaves of the last quire with lower margin skillfully and inconspicuously repaired at bottom edge (well away from text); the final leaf L8 also with repairs to inner margin (text unaffected). Harmless paper flaw to margin of aa8 (no loss). Some soiling and staining to the endpapers. In all a clean, solid, wide-margined example of this rare and beautiful edition.

Philibert de L’Orme. Le Premier Tome de l’Architecture


(RENAISSANCE ARCHITECTURE). Philibert de L’Orme. Le Premier Tome de l’Architecture. Illustrated with 205 large woodcuts, including 74 full-page and 7 double-page blocks; magnificent allegorical woodcut title border; large woodcut head-pieces and large floriated and grotesque woodcut initials; leaf I4 slightly taller than the rest of the text block, to accommodate a tall column woodcut, with about 2 cm section at top folded in. Royal Folio. 19th-century ¼-vellum over marbled boards; spine decorated and lettered in gilt; edges gilt. Paris: Fédéric Morel, 1567. First Edition. First Issue. The most influential and most lavishly illustrated handbook of French Renaissance architecture. The first and only published volume. A second volume was planned by the author but never completed.


Mortimer, Harvard College Library Cat.: French 16th-Century Books, no.355; Brunet, Supple. I, 888-9; Fowler Architect. coll. 99; Clouzot, Philibert de l’Orme, pp. 90-107; Berliner Ornamentstichkatalog 2362; Pettegree, French Vernacular Books 15434; cf. Adams L 1513 and Millard French I, 105 (citing 1568 2nd issue).


 “De l’Orme’s text systematically traces the process of building, from the choice to the smallest decorative details. In addition, this work is a major source for biographical information on de L’Orme. His style is as much personal, as theoretical, and his comments on relations between patron and architect or on the practical problems involved in certain structures are based on his own experience. The second volume of the Architecture proposed by de L’Orme at the end of the dedication and again at the end of the text, was never published.” (Mortimer, Harvard College Libr. Cat.: French 16th-century Books, No. 355)


Describing the illustrations of this splendid volume, Mortimer writes: “Among the buildings shown in detail are the château of Anet, built by de L’Orme for Diane de Poitiers, in his capacity as royal architect to Henri II, and de L’Orme’s own house in Paris. It is characteristic of de L’Orme’s approach to his subject that he should include among the illustrations three allegorical woodcuts concerned with the figure of the architect and the philosophy of a profession for which de L’Orme himself was the first French spokesman. [...] A device on leaf i3v depict[s] the architect as a learned man, relying for support on serpent-twined compasses as he moves cautiously from a cave of contemplation to a palm tree symbolizing the honor of his profession. At the end of the volume this idea is developed further in a summary of the attributes of the architect based on two full-page woodcuts on leaves Eee1r and Eee3r. The first represents the incompetent architect as a figure without hands and eyes, in a harsh landscape setting. In the second cut [...] the good architect, with three eyes and four hands, is speaking to a young apprentice in a garden, with classical buildings in the background.”


Manuscript acquisition note in French by marquis Pierfrancesco Palmucci [de Pellicani], dated 1740. Palmucci was an 18th-century Italian aristocrat, jurist and antiquarian from Macerata, who superintended the publication of an essay on medieval bronzes “Delle Tessere cavalleresche di bronzo tenute al collo” (Florence, 1760). A diminutive ex-libris to front pastedown of Count Giacomo Manzoni (1816-1889), a prominent Italian book collector and bibliographer. Manzoni’s engraved bookplate is remarkable for being "one of the smallest ever regularly used as a book-plate.” (Gelli, 3500 Ex Libris Italiani, pg. 240, fig. 441).


Without the blank ê6 (as usual), but including 2 unnumbered leaves at the end, which are rarely present, though second leaf trimmed close to text and laid down on the final blank (without loss). Binding rubbed with some wear to extremities. A few leaves with some early manuscript marginalia; title page with a couple of early ownership signatures inked out. Occasional light browning and some soiling (mainly marginal), a few minor ink smudges. Several minor marginal repairs not affecting text; leaf O3 with a tear slightly affecting the bottom of woodcut on verso, but without loss, repaired in blank portion of recto. In all, a nice, genuine example of this rare work, exceptionally tall with very wide margins.

Beginning of the Hermetic Tradition in the West

(ALDINE). Iamblichus, et al. De mysteriis Aegyptorum, Chaldaeorum, Assyrioru (plus 20 additional works). Edited and translated by Marsilio Ficino. Illustrated with woodcut Aldine device on title and verso of final leaf. Folio. Bound in 19th-century boards, backed in modern calf; spine with five raised bands, decorated in gilt and blind, lettered in gilt; marbled endpapers. Venice, Aldine Press, 1516. Second Aldine Edition,
considerably expanded from the first edition printed by Aldus in 1497. The collection includes Iamblichus’ famous “On the mysteries of the Egyptians,” along with numerous other neoplatonic and hermetic works, many dealing with demonology, magic and other occult matters. Authors include Proclus, Porphyry, Michael Psellus, Pythagoras, Xenocrates, Hermes; plus contributions by Ficino. The volume includes, among other works, the Asclepius, and the first fourteen treatises of Corpus Hermeticum (under the collective title Poemander); as well as De Operatione Daemonum, a discourse on the nature and classification of demons, by Michael Psellus, a Byzantine monk. The myth of Hermes Trismegistus is fully outlined in this book, translated by Ficino, from a manuscript purchased by Cosimo de Medici. The manuscript, printed in Macedonia, was the beginning of the Hermetic tradition in the West. Hermes, the teacher of wisdom to the Egyptians, was such a power, he literary changed the direction of Western civilization. Hermes’ legend transformed science, mathematics, religion and the entire Western culture. (See Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition.) Covers slightly rubbed; very light marginal water-staining along the top edge; occasional minor marginal soiling; blind/embossed library stamp; o/w a very clean, wide-margined example. Scarce.

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Bernardus Claravallensis


(SCHOEFFER, PETER). Bernardus Claravallensis (Saint Bernard of Clairvaux). Sermones de tempore et de sanctis et de diversis. Including also: Ad milites templi delaude novae militae. Sermo ad clerum in concilio Remensi congregatum. De conversione ad clericos. Also: Pseudo-Bernardus Claravallensis: Sermo ad pastores in synodo congregatos; Bernardus Toletanus: Sermones super Salve regina.Rubricated throughout in contemporary hand. Two major 9-line initials, as well as two 4-line and many 3-line ones, with attractive pen work decorations in blue and red; the 9-line initial on leaf 19 1 r incorporates four grotesque human heads. Lesser lombard initials alternating in red and blue. Paragraph marks and capital strokes in red. Several initials 'I' painted in red or blue entirely within margins, with bold, long descending extensions. Folio. Bound in contemporary brown calf over thick wooden boards; boards paneled in blind with borders made up by repetition of an unusual “rose twig” stamp, apparently unknown to either Kyriss or Schunke. Banded spine over 5 massive binding cords, with an early paper label bearing manuscript title. (Given the provenance of the copy, the binding was probably produced in a Bamberg workshop.) Mainz: Peter Schoeffer, 14 April 1475. First Edition of Saint Bernard’s Sermones de tempore et de sanctis and other sermons attributed to him, as well as his celebrated treatise in praise of the Knights Templar, Ad Milites Templi. (Goff B 436; Hain 2844*; BMC I, 32; Proctor 107; BSB-Ink. CIBN B-262; GW 3940; IGI 1556; Polain 601; Oates
32; Lehmann-Haupt, Peter Schoeffer 53).


Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 - 1153) was a preeminent French medieval theologian, mystic, philosopher, preacher, monastic reformer, abbot and the primary founder of the Cistercian order. One of the most accomplished preachers and influential religious figures of the Middle Ages, he was canonized by Pope Alexander III on 18 January 1174. Bernard’s sermons, which appear here in print for the first time, enjoyed a new popularity in the fifteenth century. They are arranged according to the ecclesiastical year, making them of particular value to preachers, as witnessed by the early monastic ownership. This splendid Mainz edition was the first of six printed in the 15th century.


This magnificent edition includes his celebrated treatise in praise of the Knights Templar, Ad milites templi de laude novae militae (leaves 23 4 r-24 1 r), which was written in 1129 as an answer to a letter from his friend Hugues de Payens, co-founder and first Grand Master of the Knights Templar. It can be viewed as an exhortation to the Knights “new,” i.e. Christian, knighthood, and an advertisement to the population in general. The work championed the Templars’ mission and defended the idea of a military religious order by appealing to the long-held Christian notion of just war, which approved of “taking up the sword” to defend the innocent and the Church from violent attack. Bernard wrote: “[A Templar Knight] is truly a fearless knight, and secure on every side, for his soul is protected by the armor of faith, just as his body is protected by the armor of steel. He is thus doubly-armed, and need fear neither demons nor men.”


After Johannes Gutenberg, Peter Schoeffer was the most influential individual in the early history of printing in Europe. Born about 1425 in Gernsheim, near Mainz, educated at Erfurt University, and trained as a calligrapher in Paris, Schoeffer had become involved in the new art of printing by 1455. He served as an employee of Johann Fust of Mainz, who was then financing the printing of the Gutenberg Bible. On 6 November 1455, a court notary in Mainz drew up an account of the legal dissolution of a partnership between Johannes Gutenberg and Johann Fust. With Peter Schoeffer serving as his witness, Fust sued Gutenberg for the return of the substantial funds he had supplied for work involving certain equipment and large quantities of paper, vellum, and ink. The outcome of the suit is not recorded; but while Gutenberg is believed to have continued quietly with further printing experiments until his death in 1468, Fust and Schoeffer established the first great printing enterprise in Europe. In late October, 1466, Johann Fust died, apparently of the plague. Schoeffer took over their printing enterprise, and by 1469 he had married Fust’s daughter. He began printing books under his name alone, and in 1469-70 he issued a broadside advertisement for 21 editions that were available from his shop. Throughout the 1470s, Schoeffer continued to print major theological works in editions of the highest quality. Before his death in late 1502 or early 1503, he had done more than anyone else to introduce important publishing innovations and to set technical standards that would shape the history of the printed word.


Colophon and printer’s device on 25 7 r (25 7 v blank); table on leaves 25 8 r-25 9 r (25 9 v blank). Printed in double column. 47 lines per column. Type 5:118G (the type of 1462 Fust- Schoeffer Bible, also known as the “Durandus colophon-type”). Two section titles (on leaves 1 1 r and 19 1 r), colophon and Schoeffer’s device printed in red.


This copy has the corrections on 1 7 r and 128 v, evidently made in the Schoeffer’s printing house itself. “On 1 7 r of this edition the compositor inserted a heading which was repeated immediately afterwards in slightly different form; the first version has here been scored through in red ink. On 12 8 v a line of text was printed out of place, 13 lines higher in the column than it should have been; this was scored through in red, and the text was reprinted in the lower margin (in a different setting), with carats in red ink indicating the correct point of insertion. These errors and the corrections occur in the same form in the copies at the British Library, the Bibliothèque Nationale and the Pierpont Morgan Library, indicating that the corrections were made in the printing house itself.” (Friedlaender Library Sale Catalogue, Christie’s, London, 23 April 2001, lot 22)


The book belonged to the monastery of the Augustinian Canons at Neunkirchen am Brand, near Bamberg (Upper Franconia), with a manuscript note “Conventus Novemecclesie” on leaf 11 r (dated 1525), and another on 18v. The monastery was established in 1314 and dissolved in 1555.


Extremely large, apparently untrimmed copy, exceedingly wide-margined. Slightly larger than the Helmut Friedlaender copy (Christie’s NY, 23 April 2001, lot 22). Single pinholes mostly visible at center of upper and lower margins. Collated and complete, including the final blank 2510 .


Binding rubbed with wear to edges and corners and several tiny wormholes; with a few inconspicuous repairs (mostly at corners, joints, end of spine). Original clasps and metal bosses missing. A few tiny wormholes to the first two quires: not affecting legibility. One leaf (209 ) with an old and somewhat clumsy repair of a closed tear in outer margin (away from text and without loss). Light to moderate dampstaining to upper portion of the last seven or eight quires, mainly confined to the top margin, and only occasionally entering printed area. Some brownish staining near bottom edge of the last two quires, entirely within the bottom margin and well away from text. Outer margin of the colophon leaf (25 7 ) with a minor paper-flaw resulting in a small chip at the fore-edge (well away from text). Light soiling to opening page 1 1 r and a few other leaves. Occasional manuscript marginalia in a late-15th or early 16th-century monastic hand. A very clean, bright copy of this important edition.

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