A lot of early books don’t seem to give you much from a distance. That might be a major attraction for me, yet at book fairs a lot of book lovers are reluctant to look into or even peek at, so some ask.. “What is that” and this is where I go to work. I find myself having more and more books which are hard to explain and very few books which explain themselves quickly, tersely, or simply. I this this me becoming more and more akin to the medieval mind.

Today I have chosen a book which many bibliographers have had a hard time to describe or catalogue.

From the outside this copy doesn’t give much.

[yet it is for sale):( see the price near the Bottom]

From the outside this one is pretty opaque, it has a very high  measure of impenetrability , on the spine we make out it a rather unadorned hand four digits, 1498. To me this is an invitation , Ah I might be able to read it and know all about before I get a few pages, is I look! by means of opening the book.. which on the front board. as is often a note from a onetime owner perhaps to his or her self or to readers in the future.

I fondly, but also rather vaguely remember a highly esteemed fellow Antiquarian giving me the advice “you can read what is written in the front of a book but don’t believe it.” [RES]

Very good advise, there is almost a tradition of hyperbole ,frippery, or even down right un sure attributes promised by such notes, but here in this book we find noting to beware of, everything stated is certainly believable and confirmable yet still not very informative. , no real title

Hec preclara opuscula , this is an excellent work.. Ok more to be seen, No author…

Ok that is useable ,Little book of meditations slightly informative, and the next sentence Promises to open all the doors and kick out the jambs! But first how is this listed in Library catalogues? Bibliographies? How will I find another copy … Ah the Many tools…Title Libellus Meditationum search with a date 1498

Next to the first printed leaf!

Libellus meditationum

We get Titles , Authors and even descriptions of forms! (carmina, tractatus, sermons,)


Saint Augustine 354-430;

Bernard of Claravallensis 1090-1153;

Peter Damian 1007-1072;

Saint Anselm of Canterbury, 1033-1109;

Vincent Ferrer 1350-1419;

Maffeo Vegio 1407-1458;

Pope Pius II,(Enea Silvio Bartolomeo Piccolomini) 1405-1464,

So this is what we have, but there is so much more to find 18 semi mystical texts in this beautiful and excellent little book, maybe eleven Authors, So from the top I will try to discuss the authorship and the texts!

About some of the texts and authors : (I will write lots more about the authorships and personae in a blog soon)

Pseudo-Augustine; Saint Augustine 354-430. [Pseudo- Anselmus; Jean de Fécamp] ; Jean de Fécamp (early 11th century – 22 February 1079) :Writing under the name of famous writers, he wrote the very popular book Meditations of St. Augustine and the book Meditations. He was born near Ravenna and died at Fécamp Normandy, as the Abbot of the Abbey of Fécamp. He was nicknamed ‘Jeannelin’ or ‘Little John’ on account of his diminutive stature. “The fact that John’s work almost entirely circulated under pseudonyms during the medieval period, including Ambrose, Augustine, John Cassian, Alcuin, Anselm and Bernard of Clairvaux, means that it was only in the 20th century that a greater understanding of his own thought was developed. It is only therefore in recent times that it has been acknowledged that until the spread of the Imitation of Christ at the end of the Middle Ages he was one of the most widely read spiritual writers.” “John wrote a first book of prayers, his Confessio Theologica (Theological Confession), in three parts, composed before 1018. This book was then rearranged and reworked to form a second book, Libellus de scripturis et verbis patrum (The Little Book of Writings and Words of the Fathers for the Use especially of Those who are Lovers of the Contemplative Life). This second work, circulating under the title of The Meditations of Saint Augustine, proved very popular in the later medieval period.”

Bernard of Claravallensis1090-1153; [Pseudo-Bernardus Claravallensis  [i.e. Hugo de Sancto Victore]. 

Peter Damian 1007-1072; Dante placed him in one of the highest circles of Paradiso as a great predecessor of Francis of Assisi. 

 Saint Anselm of Canterbury, 1033-1109;

 Vincent Ferrer 1350-1419; 

Maffeo Vegio 1407-1458; 

Pope Pius II,(Enea Silvio Bartolomeo Piccolomini) 1405-1464,

Located Copies

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

London, British Library (IA.31165) (Incomplete. Wanting the first, unsigned quire with title and table, and quire p with the Sermo de passione domini)

Cambridge, University Library

United States of America

The Walters Art Museum Library

Collection of the late Phyllis and John Gordan, New York NY

Free Library of Philadelphia, 

Pennsylvania State Univ.

Huntington Library

Stanford Univ. Library

The Newberry Library

Yale University, Beinecke Library

GoA1294; HC(Add) 1951; IGI 1013;Sajó-Soltész 406; IBE 126; IBPort 35; Madsen 442;SchmittII2828,15;Hubay(Eichstätt)110;Oates2628;Pr6998;BMCVII980;BSB- Ink L-136; GW 2972 (Pseudo-Augustinus)


Pseudo-Augustine; Saint Augustine 354-430; Bernard of Claravallensis

1090-1153; Peter Damian 1007-1072; Saint Anselm of Canterbury, 1033-1109; Vincent Ferrer 1350-1419; Maffeo Vegio 1407-1458; Pope Pius II,(Enea Silvio Bartolomeo Piccolomini) 1405-1464,

Medtationes divi Augustini episcopi Hyppoensis Soliloquia eivsden Manuale eidsdem Castigaissime. [a1]    

   Brescia: Angelus Britannicus de Pallazolo Biblioteca Virtual del Patrimonio Bibliograìfico.  8 Oct. 1498                                                                   $9,500

Octavo, 14 ½x10 Cm. Signatures: π4, a-n8, o10 [colophon], l8, m12, p8.[o10,m12, p8are blank and present] Second edition. Bound in later full vellum, a large copy with some deckle edges. Woodcut printer’s device C on leaf o9 verso. For Britannicus’s device C, see BM 15th cent., VII, 972 .  Second edition variations in texts though. Bound in later full vellum, a large copy with some deckle edges. 

Title and list of contents π1r; Title page,a1r   1)[Pseudo-] Augustinus [Pseudo- Anselmus; Jean de Fécamp]. Meditationes, caption “Invocatio dei omnipotentis ad morum et vite reparationem”, The invocation of the Almighty God for the reparation of character and life.

      2) a2r-e5r; [Pseudo-] Augustinus. Meditationes,

      3) e5r-i3r; [Pseudo-] Augustinus. Soliloquia,

      4) i3r-kkv [i.e. l1v],  Manuale including preface, i3r-v; [Pseudo-Bernardus Claravallensis    .               [i.e. Hugo de Sancto Victore]. Meditationes de cognitione humanae conditionis,

      5)  l2r-m8v; [Pseudo-] Bernardus Claravallensis. Epistola de perfectione vitae,

      6) n1r-n2r; Petrus Damiani. Sermo unicus [i.e Institutio monialis, chapt. 6],( De Institutione monialis, which had the aim of safeguarding Western Christians from the decadent uses of the East. Notable in this work, among other things, Damiani, then Bishop of Ostia, condemned Maria Argyre’s use of a golden fork to eat. ‘Forks were a new invention at the time.)

       7) n2v-n3r; Anselmus Cantuariensis. Meditatio de redemptione generis humani

       8) n3v-n7r; Anselmus Cantuariensis. Orationes ad sanctam Mariam virginem

       9) n7r-o7v; Father N. Laudensis [Maphae9us Vegius? Jacobus Arrigoni Laudensis?]. [Verse], incipit “Mens mea q[ui]d cogitas? Quid tantis / ceca procellis / Sponte tuam credis mox peritura ratem?”, “My mind, what are you thinking? Why are you so blind / blind to the storm / Do you automatically believe that your rate will soon perish?”

       10-18) o8r :8, elegiac distichs,; Pius II, Pont. Max. In laudem divi Augustini, o8r-v; Maphaeus Vegius. Epigramma in laudem Monicae, o8v-o9v; colophon, ov; printer’s device, o9v; Vincentius Ferrerius. De vita spirituali [also known as De interiori homine formativus], 

       19) ²l1r-²m11v; 

20) p1r-p7v. [Pseudo-] Bernardus Claravallensis. Sermo de passione domini