Straßburg (On the interpretation of the date, 'in octava epiphaniae domini', cf GW: Printer of the 1483 Jordanus de Quedlinburg (i.e., Georg Husner, 1499. Folio: [*]8, a8, b-o6, p7 (lacking p8 BLANK) 101 (of 102) leaves; lacking only the final leaf, blank. This incunable edition is basically a page-for-page reprint of the Husner editions of 6 August 1489 and 25 January 1493. The date of publication as given in the colophon has caused some confusion: “Anno nostre salutis .Mccccxcix. In octaua epiphanie d[omi]ni ” Goff and the BMC interpret this to mean 7–12 January 1499. Ownership inscription in the top margin of leaf [pi]2r, in Latin, dated 1500 of Matthew Schach, the Carthusian Prior at Prüll, and “tit. Bp. of Salona (Dalmatia), suffragan Bp. of Freising” according to Paul Needham's Index Possessorum Incunabulorum; mid-19th-century ownership signature on title-page of A. De Welles Miller, Charlotte, North Carolina, a Doctor of Divinity, but we do not know of which denomination. He was a devoted collector of early printed books. (Sincere thanks to Eric Johnson [Ohio State University Library] and Eric White [Princeton University Library] for assistance with the Shach provenance note.). 463J Recent ebony-brown calf old style: Round spine with raised bands accented by gilt rules, cream leather title label, fillets extending onto covers from each band to terminate in trefoils; a vertical blind-tooled “rope” to covers beyond the trefoils and covers framed in blind double fillets. Title-leaf stained and with old repairs, pencilling, and ownership indicia as above; very old bookseller's description glued to same not approaching type or inkings. Variable waterstaining throughout; pinhole-type worming, minor and not costing letters; leaf l4 torn in upper margin extending into text with loss a very few words in the top two lines of one column on each page of the leaf. Lacks the final blank (only) Initials, capital strokes, paragraph marks, and underlining in red. Leaves a bit wrinkled and some minor dampstaining to upper margin at the end. Overall a very good, clean copy. Goff G296; Pell 5259; IGI 4274; IBP 2405; Sajó-Soltész 1433; Kotvan 530; IJL2 185; CCIR G-30; SI 1680; Coll(S) 463; Madsen 1736, T26; Borm 1154; Sack(Freiburg) 1570; Ohly-Sack 1237, 1238, 1239; Voull(B) 2467; Günt(L) 2699; Voull(Trier) 1554; Walsh 265, 266; Bod-inc G-156; Sheppard 502; Pr 631; BMC I 146; BSB-Ink G-214; GW 10902; HC 7751*; Frasson-Cochet 137; Zehnacker 986; Döring-Fuchs G-94, G-95. Item #847
The Gesta Romanorum is “One of the best known collections of stories in Latin, the Gesta Romanorum is a medieval collection of anecdotes, to which moral reflections are attached. It was compiled in Latin, probably by a priest, late in the thirteenth or early in the fourteenth century. The ascription of authorship to Berchorius or Helinandus can no longer be maintained. The original objective of the work seems to have been to provide preachers with a store of anecdotes with suitable moral applications. Each story has a heading referring to some virtue or vice (e.g. de dilectione); then comes the anecdote followed by the moralisatio. The collection became so popular throughout Western Europe that copies were multiplied, often with local additions, so that it is not now possible to determine whether it was originally written in England, Germany, or France. Oesterley, a critical editor (Berlin, 1872), is of the opinion that it was originally composed in England, whence it passed to the Continent, and that by the middle of the fourteenth century there existed three distinct families of manuscripts: the English group, written in Latin; the Latin and German group; and a third group represented by the first printed editions. The manuscripts differ considerably as to number and arrangement of articles, but no one manuscript representing the printed editions exists. Probably the editors of the first printed edition selected 151 stories/chapters from various manuscripts.
Shortly after this collection had been published, an enlarged edition, now known as the Vulgate, was issued, containing 181 stories*. This was compiled from the third group of manuscripts, and was printed by Ulrich Zell at Cologne. Though the title of the work suggests Roman history as the chief source of the stories, many of them are taken from later Latin and German chronicles, while several are Oriental in character. In estimating the wide influence of the ‘Gesta’ it must be remembered that the collection proved a mine of anecdotes, not only for preachers, but for poets, from Chaucer, Lydgate, and Boccaccio down through Shakespeare to Schiller and Rossetti, so that many of these old stories are now enshrined in masterpieces of European literature.” (CE vol. VI, page 539-540).