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Information bulletin
(June 1950)

Mainz Psalter returned,   p. 6 PDF (634.1 KB)


Page 6


Mainz Psalter Returned
THE MAINZ PSALTER of 1457, one
of the great cultural treasures of
Germany, has been recovered in the
United States by the US Government
and returned to the American zone of
Germany.
The world-renowned Book of Psalms,
which was in the Saechsische Lan-
desbibliothek (the State Library of
Saxony) in Dresden, is the earliest
example of printing in colors. It is
valued at over $250,000. It was ship-
ped to Germany on March 13, 1950,
in the plane which carried the Hon.
John J. McCloy, US High Commis-
sioner, back from a brief visit to the
United States.
The book will remain in the tempo-
rary trusteeship of HICOG pending
final return to German ownership.
Plans for its display to the public will
be announced later.
The Psalter was probably looted
from the wartime repository of the
Dresden Library and then disappeared
from view. Passing through trade chan-
nels it was illegally imported into the
US and was discovered in New York
City by US Government authorities.
It was recovered and has been return-
ed to Germany under the International
Agreement of July 8, 1946, which was
formulated by the United States, the
United Kingdom and France to carry
forward the program of the recovery
of missing works of art dispersed dur-
ing the war. Almost all of the European
Smuggled into the US, the Mainz Psal-
ter was tracked down and returned to
Germany.   (Photos by Jacoby, PRD HICOG)
nations are participating in the agree-
ment.
THE US GOVERNMENT through its
monuments, fine arts and archives
officers has already recovered and re-
stored to Allied nations 500,000 objects
of art and 4,000,000 books and all the
public collections in the American
zone have been returned to German
museums, universities and libraries.
The great Mainz Psalter of 1457 with
121 pages of the 176 printed is 12%,
inches by 16% inches in size. It is a
book of the greatest rarity and impor-
tance as there are only 10 copies in
existence. It was the first book to be
printed in three colors: red, blue and
black, on vellum. The colors appear
in the beautiful, woodcut initial letter
of the first word of the psalms.
The original binding of the Psalter
is stamped with fillets and fleur de Ds
with five large brass bosses on the
front and back covers. The clasp and
catches are wanting and the binding
has been rebacked in the past with
white leather of the 16th century.
There are other signs of early use in
the Dresden copy as many of the
vellum leaves are worn and discolored.
The Mainz Psalter was also the first
book to contain the names of the
printers: Johann Fust, a citizen of
Mainz, and Peter Schoeffer of Gerns-
heim, both of whom were colleagues
of Gutenberg. It was probably printed
in Mainz, Germany, from which town
it takes its name.
It is also the first book to carry a
colophon and the day of printing, which
was on the Vigil of the Feast of the
Assumption on August 14 in 1457,
almost 500 years ago.
At the end of many of the psalms
in the Mainz Psalter, there is music,
the notes and staff supplied in manu-
script, as well as additional liturgical
material used in the singing of serv-
ices in the Diocese of Mainz.  +END
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by 16'/2 inches. Only 10 copies are in existence.
INFORMATION BULLETIN                                 I
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