Catholic Church. Processionals. Dominican. 1494. Liber processionum secundum Ordine[m] Fratru[m] Predicatorum. [Seville: Meynardum Ungut Alamanum et Stanislaum Polonum socios, 3 April 1494]. 4to. [a]8 b–n8 o10 (-a1, -o10 = blanks);  of  ff. (without the first and last blank leaves).
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In 1490 the Catholic Kings—i.e., Ferdinand and Isabella—seeking to permanently establish printing in Seville, summoned a partnership of a German and a Pole—Meynardus Ungut and Stanislaus Polonus—from Naples. That highly successful partnership produced this handsome processional; indeed helped to achieve a permanence of printing in Seville, the gateway to the New World; and, via the latter, became the “grandparent” firm of the first press in the New World.
Juan Luis Herrera Morillas and Juan Pedro Cavero Coll, scholars at the University of Extremadura, label the Ungut & Polonus press “one of the strongest presses in the [Iberian] Peninsula during the 15th century” (http://www.aab.es/51n68a3.pdf). The partnership issued its first book (Didacus de Deza’s In defensiones sancti Thomae on 4 February 1491 and its 61st and last book in 1500, the partnership having survived in Ungut’s widow following his death around 1 November 1499. Following Polonus’s death in 1504, after a few years in which the press operated under his sole proprietorship, it passed into the hands of the Cromberger family, who had been associated with the firm beginning in 1502—and it was they who sent Juan Pablos to Mexico to introduce printing to the Americas!
This beautifully produced Dominican liturgical volume, printed in red and black in a large gothic font, represents a compendium of firsts, being the first processional printed in Spain; the earliest processional recorded in the Vatican incunabula catalogue, and quite probably the first processional printed anywhere. Additionally, it isthe first Spanish book printed with music of which a complete copy survives: An antiphonal printed in 1491 and the Oran missal of February of 1494 exist only in incomplete examples.
Each full page of music is arrayed on six four-line red staves. As my colleague Bruce McKittrick has pointed out to me [DMS], Meyer-Baer (Liturgical Music Incunabula, no. 233) considers the work “a treasure trove [not just of ecclesiastical but] of popular medieval music.” In this copy, the initials have been consistently completed at a good, generous size in red, with some guide letters still visible and no spaces left unaccomplished; in text sections, each initial letter is typically from three to five lines tall, and in musical ones, each typically reaches from the top of its stave to the baseline of the choral text below that stave. A few printed initials extend to eight lines in height. The production ends with a red and black colophon and the Ungut–Polonus woodcut printer’s device (“M S”) below it. (The colophon page is shown at far right in the “not-the-binding” image, of the two centered ones, above, and the almost entirely redprinted page to its left is that page's recto.)
Binding: 16th-century Spanish goat with remnants of leather and brass closures. Round spine, raised bands; very Spanish gilt ruling and tooling on spine. Covers ruled in gilt and blind forming concentric frames, two with floral corner devices; each cover with a center escutcheon featuring at its center the device of the Dominican Order. All edges gilt and gauffered.
Provenance: As above, 16th-century binding with Dominican symbol on covers; 18th-century ownership signature of Sister María de Monroy.
Hain-Copinger 13380*; Proctor 9534; Goff P-997; BMC, X, 39 (IA.52382); ISTC (CD-ROM, 1998 ed.) ip00997000; Haebler, Bib. Iberica, 557; Palau 238143; Heredia, I, 137; Sheehan, Bibliothecae Apostolicae Vaticanae Incunabula, P-488. Bound as above and as may be seen in our images, with some loss of leather to base of spine and joints starting. Very minor worming in upper inner area of early leaves and extending to the inside front cover. No loss of text. Lower outside corner of colophon leaf with old repair to margin, not touching text. Some old marginalia. Without the initial and final blank leaves. A textually complete and handsome copy. The volume is now housed in a quarter brown morocco clamshell case, round spine with raised bands accented with gilt beading and gilt center devices in spine compartments; cloth sides, marbled edges.
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