Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > Printing History & Book Arts > 2. Canon Missae

2.  Canon Missae. Mainz: Johann Fust and Peter Schöffer, 1458. Printed on parchment; in Missale Cracoviense. Mainz: Peter Schöffer, 1484. Printed on paper. RBML

In 1457, Johann Fust and Peter Schöffer completed the printing of the Psalterium latinum, the first printed book to give both the names of the printers and the date of its printing. The following year they used the same type and ornamental initial letters to print the exceedingly rare Canon of the Mass, in this copy bound at the center of the Missal for the use of Cracow (printed in 1484). The missal is, in the reality of its physical production and in reflection of its liturgical use, two separate books. One of nine editions produced by Schöffer between 1483 and 1499, the missal is printed on paper, using font sizes that are smaller than those of the canon. They printed the 12-leaf canon of the mass - the section with the consecration prayers-on parchment for durability, and in a larger font size for legibility. It was sold as a separate unit so that the purchaser could remove the canon of whichever missal he was using and insert this much nicer version. The advertisement put out by Schöffer in 1470 still included this 1458 canon among the books he offered for sale; presumably one could purchase it as late as the 1484 date of the present missal. Although Columbia's copy of the canon lacks three leaves, it is one of only three known copies to survive (together with a few isolated fragments). Of all the acquisitions that Henry Lewis Bullen made for the American Type Founders Company Library, he was most proud of this one.

Purchased with the American Type Founders Company Library & Museum, 1941

Columbia University Libraries / Butler Library / 535 West 114th St. / New York, NY 10027 / (212) 854-7309 /