Jacques Mentel, De vera typographiae origine paraenesis; ad sapientissimum virum D. Bernardum a Malinkrot, monasteriensem decanum (Paris, 1650)
Patriotic claimants to the invention of printing by moveable type before Johannes Gutenberg were rarely in short supply, even two centuries after the appearance of the so-called Gutenberg Bible in c. 1453–55. To this day, visitors to Haarlem may gaze upon the proud statue of the “first inventor” of print, Dutchman Laurens Jaszoon Coster, holding high the letter A in a show of resolute precedence, within that town’s ancient grote markt.
Alternatively, in this book the latter-day Jacques Mentel sought to establish, with forged genealogical and historical evidence, that it was his alleged ancestor, Johann Mentelin of Strassburg, and not Gutenberg, who deserved credit for the momentous invention of the printing press.
The twisted perversity of Mentel’s techno-genealogical confection extended even to the dedication of this handsomely produced volume, which taunts the great German bibliographer Bernard von Mallinckrodt, who, just eleven years earlier had published his historic De ortu et progressu artis typographicae (in which, incidentally, Mallinckrodt is generally credited with coining the term “incunabula”) in honor of the authentic bicentenary of Gutenberg’s achievement.