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Biblia Germanica
584 (of 588 leaves, without the two initial & two terminal blanks in each vol.). 109 woodcuts (one repeated), richly handcolored in a variety of colors & gold, the woodcut on leaf 5 also illuminated, 4 initials illuminated in gold & colors, 3- to 8-line initials in red, blue, green, & purple with penwork decoration, paragraph marks & capital-strokes in red. Gothic type, 50 lines & headline, double columns. Two vols. Median folio (410 x 287 mm.), cont. calf over wooden boards (spines carefully & sympathetically renewed, some other skillful repairs to extremities of bindings), Vol. I blindstamped with pine-branch ornament, Vol. II with a different pine-branch ornament in combination with griffin in lozenges, eight orig. metal catches, later clasps. Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 17 February 1483. A richly colored and illuminated copy, in a contemporary binding, of the "Koberger Bible" or the "Ninth German Bible"; this is one of the grandest of all illustrated books of the 15th century. The fame of the Ninth German Bible rests on its magnificent series of large woodcuts which influenced Bible illustration for several generations. "Its text, which was reprinted in the succeeding five editions, is a translation of the Vulgate with the revisions incorporated into the Low German translations printed at Cologne in 1478/79. Besides textual similarities, the Koberger Bible and the Cologne Bibles share the same woodcuts, the first Bible illustrations to span two columns. Taken together, the Cologne and Koberger Bibles form a trio aimed at a wide German market. The Cologne Bibles, one in each of two Low German dialects, and the Koberger Bible, in standard German, did not infringe on each other's readership. Furthermore, their appeal went beyond a literate audience through the illustrations. The intention behind the woodcuts is made explicit in the Cologne Bible: to facilitate understanding and to arouse interest. They consciously imitated imagery found in churches, and are indirectly patterned on a 1460 manuscript from the Cologne area. After their appearance in these Bibles, the woodcuts were printed only one other time, in Halberstadt in 1522. Their influence was, however, widely felt, as evidenced in the many imitations in subsequent Bible editions… "The concern of the publishers for a wide audience and full understanding of the text was not in keeping with the position of the Church, which recommended knowledge of the Bible through commentaries and viewed direct contact with it as dangerous to the laity, but was consonant with the efforts of the devotio moderna which was instrumental in disseminating the Bible in both manuscript and printed form. It is not surprising then to find the Brothers of the Common Life behind the publication of the Cologne Bibles. Also involved in their publication as part of a financial consortium was Anton Koberger, making the shared characteristics between them and his own edition no coincidence. Koberger was already a successful printer in Nuremberg who had business connections in Venice, Milan, Lyons, Cracow, and other centers. The woodcuts came to him to print his German Bible a few years later for which he ran twenty-four presses and employed around one hundred workers. The edition size was between 1000 and 1500 copies, some of which remained in stock under his heirs at the time Luther's Bible translation appeared in 1522 (H. Wendland, 'Eine fünfhundertjahrige Inkunabel - Anton Kobergers deutsche Bibel,' Philobiblon, 28, 1984, pp. 30-37)… "Koberger also had a workshop for rubricating and illuminating the Bible. It was available in three forms: completely uncolored, rubricated and colored simply in green, ochre, and purple, or rubricated and colored in a wider variety of colors and gold leaf. With its rich coloring and illumination of one woodcut and four initials, the [present] B.P.H. copy belongs to the last category."-Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, I, 41. Provenance: Hans Dolchinger, 1524 (inscription in Vol. II); Brno, Moravia (inscription on leaf 296 of Vol. 2: "Catalogo inscriptus Domus Probationis Societ Jesu Brunensis Anno 1625. 3 Januarii"); J.R. Ritman, with bookplate (Margaret Lane Ford, Christ, Plato, Hermes Trismegistus. The Dawn of Printing. Catalogue of the Incunabula in the Bibliotheca Philosophia Hermetica, no. 41). Fine and large set with many outer and lower edges uncut. Occasional minor stain or defect but a crisp and clean set. ? Goff B-632.
      [Bookseller: Jonathan A. Hill, Bookseller, Inc.]
Last Found On: 2016-11-25           Check availability:      Biblio    

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