Incunabula and the Keio University Library Collection


Johannes Trithemius, De scriptoribus ecclesiasticis (Basel: Johannes Amerbach, [after 28 Aug.] 1494)

De scriptoribus ecclesiasticis. Ed: Johannes (Heynlin) de Lapide

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This work is known as 'the first bibliography' in Europe 'to have been compiled as a practical work of reference', and contains references to approximately 7,000 works by more than 950 authors, who are listed chronologically, beginning with St Clement, as can seen in the Keio copy. Following the name of each author is a brief biography and a list of works, together with details of the genre to which each work belongs – such as liber, homilia, and epistola – the number of volumes belonging to each work, and the incipits. Many entries lack the incipits, but the Keio copy contains several that have been added by hand after publication.

The main text is preceded by an alphabetical author index, which complements the chronological organization of the work. Each entry in the index consists of the name of an author and the number of the first folio dealing with that author.

Trithemius was born in Trittenheim (hence his name) in 1462, and studied at Trier and Heidelberg. In 1482 he became a monk in the Benedictine monastery of Sponheim, where he was soon promoted to abbot. When he first arrived the library contained only a few dozen books, but as a result of his activities it ended up with two thousand volumes, half of which were printed. Trithemius included himself in the last entry of the De scriptoribus ecclesiasticis, listing 17 works to his name; these include the rules of the monastery, the lives of the saints, and several sermons and letters.

The printer, Johannes Amerbach, was born in Reutlingen, Germany, c. 1434, and worked under Koberger, the foremost printer in Nürnberg. He eventually started his own workshop in 1475, probably with the help of Koberger. Although Amerbach has often been considered the most active of the early printers in Basel, in terms of quantity he was surpassed by Michael Wenssler before the latter went missing in 1491.

  Breslauer, Bernard H. and Roland Folter, Bibliography: Its History and Development: Catalogue of an Exhibition Held at the Grolier Club from April 21 to June 6, 1981, to Mark the Completion of the National Union Catalog, Pre-1956 Imprints (New York: Grolier Club, 1984), p. 7



Tritheim, Johann
Place of Publication
Johann Amerbach


Date of Publication
[after 1494-08-28]

Modern antique style calf over boards, blind-tooled.

Bibliographical Notes

147 leaves (of 148), wanting u8, u1 inserted from another copy; initials rubricated in blue and red throughout (though blue is used only for the first 26 pages); some annotations in a contemporary hand throughout.

Goff T452, HC 15613*, BMC III 755, IJL 285, IJL2 368, PP 51
Acquisition Year
1982 (from the General Theological Seminary Sale, at Christie's New York, on 1 October 1980)

1. Georg Kloss, Frankfurt am Main (A1r, A2r). 2. The General Theological Seminary, Christie's New York, on 1 October 1980, lot 12 (stamp: 'GEN. THEO SEMINARY LIB. NY'; A1r ).