Monte dell’ Orazione.
Price: 35000.00 USD
[Venice, Bernardinus Benalius before June, 1493]. 4to (195 x 137 mm.).  leaves. Gothic type, 32-33 lines per page, full-page woodblock of an angel before a church greeting St. Francis, twenty-one large white-line and smaller Lombardic woodcut initials. Superb decorative printed book covers with unshaded Venetian woodblocks on the first recto and final verso. On the first recto the full-page cut shows John the Baptist and St. Peter in a desert landscape supporting four circles formed of intertwined foliage. The large central circle bears the Christogram and the three smaller (with letterpress legends) represent the Holy Trinity. On the final verso St. John the Evangelist with his eagle and St. Francis stand before a church, again supporting four foliage circles, the largest with maria and the others with her virtues (these legends xylographic). Bound in gilt ruled crushed green morocco (Wallis & Lloyd), spine and title gilt, all edges gilt. The Monte’s “handsome woodcuts [are] placed on the first and last page…so as to form an ornamental cover” (BMC). “Examples of early paper bindings with woodcuts are rare indeed, and they are of considerable interest…[for] binding…and for the history of wood engraving” (E.P. Goldschmidt). Paul Needham notes that pictorial printed woodcut wrappers “were meant to function…as eye-catching advertisements for the books they covered, precisely as book jackets do today”. IN THE PRESENT CASE, THE COVERS ARE INTEGRAL TO THE TEXT BLOCK, FORGING A CLOSE IDENTITY BETWEEN THE BOOK’S EXTERIOR ICONOGRAPHY AND ITS CONTENT. A good copy (washed and pressed). We have traced one complete example at auction in the last half century (1977, to Breslauer).ISTC im00847000; Goff M-487 (2 exx.); BMC V: xxxi-xxxii and 378; Essling 728 and see 306 n. 1 “Les deux grands bois…forment une couverture illustrée”; Sander 4879; Jackson, “Printed Wrappers of the 15th to the 18th Centuries” in Harvard Lib. Bull. 6 (1952) pp. 313-21 p. 314, 318 and 321 “integrated wrapper”; see Needham’s Twelve Centuries of Bookbinding 117-9 and Goldschmidt’s Gothic & Renaissance Bookbindings 36.