NICOLAUS DE GRETZ (fl. 1421-39, rector of Vienna University 1437),Tractatus de duodecim partibus fidei, in Latin, written by Petrus Bawtz of Olmütz, Moravia, 17 February 1440. – [Anon.] Sermones dominicales et hebdomadales super epistolas et evangelia. [Austria, probably Vienna, mid-15th century.]

A signed Latin treatise in an exceptional fifteenth-century chained Austrian binding. Gretz's treatise appears to be unpublished; and the sermons, which only cover the first half of the liturgical year, may be unrecorded. The two works probably existed together when they were rebound and chained a half century later, almost certainly in Vienna. It was no doubt the Piarist Fathers who acquired, restored and rechained the binding after they founded a Viennese school and library in the 17th century. Intact codices from medieval chained libraries are extremely rare at auction.

205 x 143mm, 408 leaves, collation: 1-812, 21-2812, 9-2612, complete, two codices bound in one volume, the first with catchwords at the end of each gathering, the second with catchword at the end of the first gathering and signatures at the end of subsequent gatherings, Bawtz’s bookhand in the first work a gothic cursive, similar script by a different hand in the second work, large initials in blue with red penwork decoration in the first work; smaller initials in red in the second work, rubricated throughout with headings, paragraph marks, capital strokes and underlining (some toning especially to first leaf, wormholes, and a corner repair to first leaf, catchwords and signatures cropped, red ink spilled on several pages in the second work; occasional dustsoiling). Two leaves of 19th-century notes tipped into the front.

Binding: late-15th-century Austrian chained binding, with blind-stamped calf over oak boards, intersecting triple fillets forming rectangular border compartments containing a fleur-de-lis in an oval and another floral tool (neither reproduced in Kyriss or Schwenke-Sammlung), the field diapered and containing foliate ornament in relief from the impressions of Kopfstempel, iron chain attached to the top of the back cover, consisting of a staple, eleven hourglass links and a ring; title on later paper spine label (rebacked and corners replaced at an early date, inner hinges strengthened, clasps and bosses gone, a hole through the upper back cover indicating that the binding had been chained once before).

Content: Tractatus, beginning: "Dilectissimi quicumque homo habens usum rationis vult venire in regnum celeste," f.1-96v, (scribe’s colophon on f.96v); Sermones, beginning: "Hora est iam nos de sompno surgere Rom. xiii Beatus Gregorius dicit quod civi libet [sic] solempnitati quam colimus debemus bonis operibus conformari," ff.97-406v, blanks ff.407-8 (last blank as pastedown).

Provenance: Piarists of Vienna (early inscription) – Johann Ernst von Jamaigne (1648-1719, Protonotary Apostolic in Waidhofen an der Thaya; engraved armorial bookplate) – Sotheby’s, 15 December 1953, lot 106 (bought through Offenbacher) – Cornelius J. Hauck (his sale, Christie’s New York, 27 July 2006, lot 106).
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