Scarce 1555 Venetian printing of the Liber Sacerdotalis with original binding
Fifth edition printing of the Liber Sacerdotalis by Alberto Castellani in its original Venetian gilt and blind-stamped leather binding with clasps. Printed in red and black inks with numerous woodcuts and musical content.
Approximate size: 226 x 160 mm
Text in Latin. Printed in red and black with many pages of music (printed in square neumes on a four-line red staff), fine woodcut illustrations (including the Guido d’Arezzo’s “musical hand,” the sacraments and biblical scenes), superb woodcut initials in various styles; the first page of text printed within a superb historiated woodcut border.
Written by Alberto Castellani, aka Da Castello (c. 1460 – 1552), a Venetian Dominican, the book was originally published in 1523 as Liber sacerdotalis. It quickly gained considerable popularity, and was reprinted more than twenty times during the 16th century. The book was a part of Pope Leo X enterprise to standardize and codify the rituals of the Roman Catholic Church.
In addition to all the liturgical and sacramental rites, this influential and popular manual for catholic priests includes, a substantial section on the ‘exorcism of demoniacs’ , as well as a full text of an anonymous treatise on music theory Compendium musices (incipit: ‘Proprietas in musica est deriuatio…’, first printed separately in 1499 by J.-B. Sessa in Venice).
Overall, an extraordinary example of 16th-century Italian liturgical printing in a splendid Venetian Renaissance binding.
Condition: Mid-16th-century Venetian binding of dark-brown goatskin over wooden boards; both covers blind-paneled diagonally with interlaced strap work filled with foliate motifs, central rhombic compartment gilt-stamped with a ‘Virgin and Child’ tool, surrounded by four leafy tools, the four corner compartments also gilt-stamped with rosette tools. Spine with three raised bands. Two brass clasps on leather straps, with corresponding catch-plates. All edges speckled dark blue. Foliation:  331  ff. (forming 672 pages). Collated and complete. Book-label of Dunn George (1865-1912) of Woolley Hall near Maidenhead (Berkshire, England) on front pastedown (the book was listed as Lot 648 in the catalogue of his library sale at Sotheby’s, London, 11-14 Feb 1913).