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(MENTEL)

Born c. 1410; died 12 Dec., 1478; an eminent German typographer of the fifteenth century, and the first printer and bookseller at Strasburg (Alsace). He belonged to a respected family at Schlettstadt. After 1447 he was a "gold-schreiber" (illuminator) at Strasburg, where he became a burgess and member of the painters' and goldsmiths' guilds. It was as an illuminator that he became connected with printing; and he received his printer's training at Mainz : he began printing at Strasburg before 1460. His establishment at once developed great activity; in a few years at produced quite a number of immense folio volumes with a masterly finish. He also procured the sale of his prints by means of printed catalogues. These "publisher's catalogues" have proved a very valuable means of identifying and ascertaining facts about Mentelin's prints, because he usually appended neither name, place nor date to his works. His type is nearly always conspicuous as being a simplified Gothic round-hand (the minuscule used in the books of the period). Though they cannot compare either in design or technical finish with those of Gutenberg and Schoffer, they are not without some original features especially in the capital letters, which occur both in flourishing Gothic and in the simple Roman lapidary style. Of his large printed works, about 30 in number, including at least 35 large folio volumes, the following are the most conspicuous: the Latin edition of the Bible of 1460, and 1463; the German Bible, about 1466, also the first editions of the writings of St. Augustine, St. Chrysostom, St. Jerome, Aristotle, Isidore, and the "Canon" of Avicenna. The business was carried on by his Adolf Rusch, and afterwards by Johann Pruss. Although Mentelin cannot be reckoned the inventor the art of printing books, as his grandson Johan Schott claimed in 1521, he was nevertheless one of the most skilful of the early typographers.


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