The Archivist’s Nook: Inquisitio – Rare Book Acquisitions, 2023-2024

Special Collections, which includes Rare Books, had a bumper crop this past reporting year of carefully considered rare book acquisitions via purchase, fourteen items from nine both nationally and internationally respected vendors. The latter include new dealer contacts in England, France, Holland, and Italy. Several examples are reviewed in some detail while others due to space constrains are briefly noted in the footnotes. For additional information, see our previous related blog posts and, as always, thank you to both Special Collection and University Libraries staff who help make these vital additions possible. We also appreciate the university faculty members who advise us on potential books to appropriate.

Mexican Catholic publications, 1658, 1812, 1927. Special Collections, Catholic University

We were fortunate to obtain three works via McBride Rare Books of New York, related to the history of Mexico. The first item is Oracion panegyrica en gloria de la sagrada virgen Clara, hija emuladora con iguales volantes plumas en santidad, a la del seraphin padre fuyo Francisco…by Francisco de Torres, published Puebla: Por la Viuda de Juan de Borja, y Gandia, 1658. With 11 leaves and binding remnants along the spine, this is a rare Mexican sermon written in honor of Saint Clare of Assisi (1194-1253), one of the first followers of Francis of Assisi. There are known copies at the Bancroft and Lilly libraries and some Mexican institutions. The second item is the Apologia de Santa Teresa de Jesus, que dirige a las RR. MM. Carmelitas Descalzas de la ciudad de Mexico by Jose Maria de San Pedro, published Mexico City: En la Oficina de Ontiveros, 1812, and considered scarce. There are 44 pages with an engraved plate of this first and only edition of a biography of St. Teresa de Jésus (or Teresa of Avila), a sixteenth century Carmelite nun, who later was made the first female Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI. Her reformation of the Carmelite Orders of both men and women prompted the foundation of the Discalced Carmelites. The illustration depicting the Saint praying in her garden was engraved by Manuel de Araoz, one of the first students of the Mexican Academy of Painting. The third item is the Galeria de martires mexicanos 1926-1927, published 1927 in San Antonio by Imprenta Universal. Printed in blue ink with and 124 pages, this is a biographical work with portraits documenting those killed defending the Catholic Church during the Cristero War following the Mexican Revolution of 1917. There are only a few copies known to exist.

Pedro Manso de Tapia. De virtutibus infidelium ad mentem P. Augustini. Reflexio vindex pro eminentiss. cardinali Henrico de Noris Salmanticae, 1721, Special Collections, Catholic University.

A notable piece related to the history of Jansenism, this is a first edition of a good copy in contemporary limp vellum of De virtutibus infidelium ad mentem P. Augustini. Reflexio vindex pro eminentiss. cardinali Henrico de Noris Salmanticae [Salamanca], ex officina Francisci Garcia Onorato & San Miguel, Anno 1721. The author, Pedro Manso de Tapia (1669-1736), was an Augustinian theologian defending Cardinal Enrique Noris from Jesuit Jansenist accusation due to the Cardinal’s works Vindiciae augustinianae and Historia pelagiana. These accusations of heresy became known to the Roman and the Spanish Inquisition in about 1695. A couple of years before, Pedro Manso had met the cardinal in Rome and, having become a professor in Salamanca, he decided to organise the defense of his superior in Spain. He defended the theology of Saint Augustine with “Sanctus Augustinus gratiae sufficientis assertor et vindex” (Salamanca, 1719) and “Sanctus Augustinus sanctae vocationis exaltator” (Salamanca, 1721), and proceeded to defend Noris in the present work, which ended up soon in the Index of Prohibited Books, already in 1723. Obtained with generous terms from Orsi Libri of Milan, Italy, there are no known copies in the United States nor anywhere else outside of Spain.

Giovanni Giustino Ciampini. De sanctae Romanae ecclesiae vicecancellario illiusque munere Auctoritate, et Potestate…1697. Special Collections, Catholic University.

An edition of an early monograph, 240 paged bound in contemporary vellum with two engraved plates and a repaired spine, De sanctae Romanae ecclesiae vicecancellario illiusque munere Auctoritate, et potestate Rome: Bernabò, 1697, by Giovanni Giustino Ciampini (1633-1698), describes the offices and duties of the Papal Vice-chancellor, historical title for the head of the Cancellaria Apostolica after A.D. 1220. This coveted ecclesiastical position produced official copies of Papal documents and raised funds for the Papal Army. The present work was composed during the vacancy of the office in the 1680s under the reforms of Pope Innocent XI and the author dedicated it to Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, newly promoted to the position in 1689, which he held until 1740. Usually the signatory on Papal Bulls and other official documents, the Vice-chancellor also had other duties listed on pages 97-137. Ciampini’s also traces the historical development of the title from the Middle Ages, and the engraved plate provides a view of official Vatican proceedings behind closed doors.  There are a few monastic ex-libris stamps of German Franciscan institutions as well as the personal stamp and signature of later owners, this copy was acquired from Editio Altera of Bronxville, New York. At present only one known copy in auction records, sans plates, and only other copy in an American library, at Emory University.

Various Titles via Asher Books of the Netherlands. Special Collections, Catholic University.

A banner year of acquisitions was capped by four notable works generously provided by Asher Books of the Netherlands. The first is the Theologiae mysticae, cum speculative, 1556, the last uncensored folio edition of the principal collection of great Flemish mystic Franciscan Hendrik Herp, or Harphius, (ca. 1410-1478) a popular and important work of mystical religion first printed in 1538. This 1556 edition was the last before the censored Rome edition of 1586 that later versions followed. The second is the Tractatus de auctoritate, ac necessitate episcoporum, four treatises on the authority and importance of bishops, published together in 1669 by Joachim van Metelen, a Catholic publisher in Amsterdam, plus three additional works including the third edition of Tractatus de missionibus (originally 1626), in which Philippus Rovenius (1573-1651), an apostolic vicar of the Dutch Mission instructs missionaries how to preach to unbelievers and heretics. The third is the Counter-Reformation work, In omnes psalmos dilucida explanation of Jesuit Cardinal Robert Bellarmino, published in 1611, a rare first edition with no other copies in the United States. Lastly, is a work in Dutch by Charles Nerinckx, Nagelaten brief van der weleerw, in leven missionaris in Kentucky, aan zijne bloedverwanten en vrienden in Nederland, 1825. This is a rare first and only edition of a posthumous publication of letters from an influential Belgian Catholic missionary in Kentucky reporting home on the state of the Catholic Faith in Kentucky and Missouri. Nerinckx (1761-1824) was instrumental in the development of early nineteenth century Catholic Faith in the United States. Known as “the priest in the saddle,” he founded ten churches and spent his last years ministering to Native Americans.

Thank you for reading and we look forward to another stellar year of collecting Rare Books.

Notes and Asides:

(1) Another edition, this one from 1749, of The Christian pattern, or the Imitation of Jesus Christ (originally published in 1418 by Thomas a Kempis, was obtained via Rulon-Miller Books of Minnesota, and subject of its own recent blog post.

(2) Affaire de Religion, obtained from Librairie Hogier of Paris, is a bound volume of 60 pamphlets, 1680-1733, related to Quietism and Jansenism.

(3) An American anti-Catholic Harvard lecture, The Authority of Tradition Considered…,by Edward Wigglesworth, printed by Thomas & John Fleet, Boston, 1778, and acquired from Capitol Hill Books of Washington, D.C.

(4) A Life of Saint Anthony, the fourteenth century Portuguese Franciscan friar, titled Vita Miracolie e Privilegi di s. Antonio de Padova Espresi in XL rami, by Gio. Antonio Conzatti, Padova, 1786, from Second Story Books of Maryland.

(5) John Garth’s Tolkien at Exeter College: How an Oxford undergraduate created Middle-earth, 2022 edition, from John Garth of England.

(6) Special thanks to our staff, especially Alex Audziayuk and Hannah Kaufman. Thanks also to those who make the acquisition process possible, Steve Connaghan, Kate Benedict, and Emir Isakovic.


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