Aquinas, Strasbourg, c. 1463

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (1226–1274).
Summa theologica, pars secunda, secundus liber.
[Strasbourg: Johann Mentelin, before Advent 1463]. (06670)

Bridwell Library’s earliest book printed outside of Mainz is also the earliest edition of any portion of the three-part Summa theologica of Thomas Aquinas. This copy exhibits elaborate rubrication by an unknown artisan whose work has been detected in several other books printed by Johann Mentelin, including three copies of his German Bible, printed c. 1466. Whereas most fifteenth-century books were decorated by or for their first owners after they were purchased, the appearance of this rubricator’s work in multiple copies of Mentelin’s books indicates that the artisan worked directly for the printer, decorating copies before they were sold. The Bridwell Library copy of the Summa theologica offers further evidence that this rubricator worked for Mentelin. Although the recto side of folio 18 inadvertently was not printed, its text has been written in by hand and rubricated in a style consistent with the rest of the book. Whereas a rubricator not affiliated with the printer would have copied the missing text from an independent source, Mentelin’s rubricator transcribed it word for word from a readily available specimen of the printed page.

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Folio 18R, copied in manuscript and rubricated in Mentelin's shop

Printing in Germany
Aquinas, Strasbourg, c. 1463