Biblia Latina

Koberger's First 1478 Issue Biblia Latina

[BIBLE IN LATIN]. BIBLIA LATINA. Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 14 April, 1478.

The third Koberger Latin Bible (published three years after his first great folio Bible) first 1478 issue (later Nov. 10, 1478), complete. Two volumes in one royal folio (16-1/8 x11-1/8 in; 412 x 287mm). [1], CCCCDLX1, [6] ff. (468 ff.), i.e. [a12 b-y1 z6 [superscript pi]A6 A-N1 O-P6 Q-S1 T-V8 X-Z1 2a-2b1 2c6]. Fifty-one lines and headlines, double column, canon sidenotes in the Gospels. A profusion of 3- to 13-line rubricated initials in red, blue and magenta, many with lovely flourishes, red and blue paragraph marks and additional rubrication throughout. The tractate of Menardus Monachus is included, his summary of the books of the Bible with a study guide.

Contemporary full German stamped calf over thick wood boards, the boards center-paneled and decorated in blind in a pattern resembling a foliate tool within lattice compartments and with a border of alternating rosettes and a separate foliate tool, embossed brass catches (3 of 4 remaining) with remains of straps and with endpapers from a printed edition of Persius.
Leaf CCXXXD (235) misprinted as CCXL (240). Occasional marginalia in a tight and neat contemporary hand. Some expert repairs to spine - but still a sensational example of a fifteenth century binding.

The finest copy we have seen in forty years, very handsome and upon closely considering the binding very important:
this copy likely to have been produced in Koberger's workshop.

While the November 10, 1478 issue is well represented within institutional holdings worldwide, OCLC/KVK locates this, the earlier issue, in only three libraries: BN, Russian State, and Copac (Manchester). No copies have come to auction within the last thirty-five years.

Though the colophon reads Mai kl octaoudecimo (May 18th), all authorities accept the actual date of issue as April 14th.

German printer, publisher, and bookseller, Anton Koberger (c. 1445 -1513) "was descended from an old family of skillful artisans who had belonged to the town council as early as 1350, and was a goldsmith before he became a printer. After the completion of the first dated volume (Alcinous, 24 Nov., 1472), Koberger's printing-house quickly developed an activity reaching out in all directions, and about 200 works appeared before the year 1500, mostly in folio form and some in bindings. In 1480 it had already outstripped Schöffer of Mainz, and, until practically the end of the fifteenth century, was the most important printing-house in the world. From a chance statement we learn that Koberger used twenty-four presses a day for his printing and employed over a hundred workmen. His publications demonstrate the generous plan on which his work was done. The paper will still outlast centuries. The type is almost entirely cut in Gothic form, is strong and carefully designed, and, in spite of its narrowness, gives a good, readable round script, which was later very widely used" ( Wallau, H. (1910). Anthony Koberger. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company).

The total list of his printings for the forty years from 1473 to 1513, when he died, comprises no less than two-hundred and thirty-six separate works, including fifteen impressions of the Biblia Latina, eight of which presented material differences of notes and commentaries which entitled them to be considered as distinct editions. In the actual number of separate works issued, Koberger was possibly equaled by one or more of his contemporaries, but in respect to literary importance and costliness, and in the beauty and excellence of the typography, the Koberger publications were not equaled by any books of the time excepting the issues of Aldus in Venice (Putnam II, p. 150). This third edition of Koberger's Latin Bible is essentially a reprint of his editions of 1477 and 1475, largely based on the Fust & Schoeffer edition of 1462.

A beautiful example of the magnificent productions during the first generation of printed Bibles, the state of preservation and the impressive German binding making it all the more so.

Goff-B557. HC 3068. BMC ll. 415 (7168). GKW 4232. Pell 2296. Polain (B) 648. Oates 988. IGI 1655. Rumball-Petre 22 (noting the Nov. 1478 issue). Item #01369

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