Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2016 Issue

Early Printed Bibles from Dr. Jorn Gunther Rare Books


Early Printed Bibles.

Dr. Jorn Gunther Rare Books has published a spectacular catalogue of Early Printed Bibles 1454-1580. We have seen few catalogues the peer of this large quarto, perfect bound hard cover issue. It offers 45 bibles and related items, each with a thorough history of the edition and numerous photographs. You can learn much about the first century plus of printed bibles from this catalogue.


The date range will quickly reveal where this catalogue begins. The starting date of 1454 means there is a Gutenberg inside, or at least a fragment thereof, complete issues long out of the market. Most of the bibles are German in origin, which should not be surprising, as starting with Gutenberg, that is where most early printed bibles arose. The Reformation brought revised translations, but again the center of activity was Luther's Germany. One more point needs to be made about early bibles. They were not plain text. The earliest employed such devices as rubricated initials to create works of art, with illustrations following not long after. These bibles are works of beauty as well as recountings of their readers' most fundamental beliefs.


We begin in the only place we can begin – with the Gutenberg. Johann Gutenberg mastered a craft that no one had been able to figure out before him. There were printed sheets from woodblocks, but no one had mastered a practical way to print large amounts of text. Gutenberg was aware of the use of pressing, be it wine presses or those used to create seals and stamps. What he added was movable type. This was not easy as the type had to be precisely cut and match up with other letters for perfect fit. However, once the arduous process of creating and placing the type was completed, the press could print large numbers of copies, something never done before. It is believed Gutenberg must have had a couple dozen employees working on his bibles. Over a course of two years, he succeeded in printing 180 copies. That may sound terribly inefficient today, but at the time it took a scribe three years to create just one copy of the bible. Sadly, Gutenberg's massive accomplishment was too expensive. He lost money, and unable to pay his debt to lender/partner Johann Fust, he lost his equipment too.


Of the original run of the first book ever printed, 48 copies of Gutenberg's bible are known to survive, only 20 complete. There are about 65 single leaves or fragments also still in existence. Offered is the largest consecutive fragment still held in private hands. It is the complete Book of Joshua, thirteen leaves. Following the death of Moses, it was Joshua's task to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land, defeating the Canaanites and dividing the land among the twelve tribes. Item 1. Price on request.


With Gutenberg out of the picture, Fust teamed up with Gutenberg's assistant (and his future son-in-law) Peter Schoeffer to continue the business. On August 14, 1457, they produced the second printed book, Psalterium Moguntium. This psalter was the first book to carry a date, and the first to use three colors. While Gutenberg was limited to one book, both Fust and Schoeffer continued in the trade the remainder of their lives, 1466 in Fust's case, and into the 16th century for Schoffer. This psalter came in two issues, the second longer than the other. Item 2 consists of two leaves from the second issue. This book is even rarer than a Gutenberg bible, with only 11 surviving complete copies, and 26 fragments of one to three leaves. These leaves, and others, survived as a result of being used in the bindings of later books, it having been treated essentially as trash in the 17th century. Priced at €250,000 (euros, or approximately $282,925 U.S. dollars).


The next item is a bible in German, once thought of as the fourth German bible, but whose timing is now seen to be the third. It was published between 1474 and 1476, succeeding German editions of 1466 and 1470. It was published by Gunther Zainer in Augsburg. It closely follows the Latin Vulgate and it is said that Luther used it in preparing his own translation. This bible is particularly noted as being the first printed bible to include illustrations. The bible features 73 historiated woodcut initials, most featuring biblical scenes. They have been colored by an artist in Zainer's shop. Item 4. €330,000 (US $373,620).


Das Allte Testament deutsch is the first three parts of the Old Testament - the Five Books of Moses, historical books (Joshua-Esther), and poetical books, as translated by Martin Luther. These parts were published 1523-1524 (the following parts were published later). Luther had just finished translating the New Testament when he began work on this book. The illustrations came from the workshop of Lucas Cranach, who shared Luther's low esteem for the Catholic Church. The frontispiece shows its Christian orientation with a group of children and angels looking up at Christ on the cross. A different visual take on the bible can be seen in the first illustration, from Genesis, depicting the flood. Rather than showing Noah leading the animals, two by two, onto the arc, it shows just the top of a square arc, while lying nearby are the drowned bodies of humans and animals as rains pour down. This version is serious business. Item 20. €250,000 (US $ 282,925).


Spectacular illustrations, the finest up to its time, can be found in Apocalypse cum figuris (apocalypse with pictures). Albrecht Durer's artistic masterpiece was originally published in 1498 in Latin and German. At the time, many expected the apocalypse to come in the year 1500. When it didn't, Durer republished this third (second Latin) edition in 1511. It contains 16 woodcut illustrations (the first two editions had 15). It also includes Durer's warning to plagiarists, as a pirated edition was produced in 1502. Durer's Apocalypse is considered the first work both created and published by an artist. Item 15. €250,000 (US $ 282,925).


Dr. Jorn Gunther Rare Books may be reached at +41 (0)61 275 7575 or info@guenther-rarebooks.com. Their website is www.guenther-rarebooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 7. Ritter's unusual sun-dial world map, 1607. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 16. Fascinating Japanese satirical map published prior to WWII, 1932. Est. $1400 to $2000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 30. Newton's 2" miniature terrestrial globe, 1833. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 318. Braun & Hogenberg's first plan of Moscow in contemporary color, 1575. Est. $2750 to $3500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 346. One of the most decorative 18th century maps of Malta, 1680. Est. $1200 to $1500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 412. The first printed map devoted to the Pacific in full contemporary color, 1589. Est. $8000 to $10000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 425. Rare set of celebrated explorers of the New World, 1592. Est. $1900 to $2300
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 436. Two superb miniature atlases bound in one volume with 98 maps, 1682. Est. $5500 to $7500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 445. Part IV of de Bry's "Grand Voyages" by Girolamo Benzoni, 1613. Est. $2000 to $2500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 447. Tallis' "History of the United States of America" in six volumes, 1850. Est. $1500 to $1800
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 448. Mallet's miniature military masterpiece, 1672. Est. $1400 to $1700
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Malcolm X, Autograph Letter Signed, from prison, 1950. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Letter from Moses Walker, an enslaved Georgia man, to his mother at another plantation, 1854. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Signed cabinet card of Frederick Douglass, albumen photograph, Boston, circa 1879. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Placard from the Memphis Sanitation Worker's strike, 1968. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b><br><i>The North Star,</i> volume 1, issue 27, Rochester, NY, 1848. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Hand-tinted tintype of John Brown, circa 1860. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster signed & inscribed by Huey Newton, circa 1967. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Album of aerial views of the march on Montgomery, taken by federal troops, 1965. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster for the SNCC, photograph by Danny Lyon featuring John Lewis, circa 1962. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Jenner (Rev. George Charles). <i>The Evidence at Large...Respecting Dr Jenner's Discovery of Vaccine Inoculation,</i> presentation copy from Edward Jenner to Rev. Rowland Hill, 1805. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Houdini (Harry).- Maggi (Girolamo). <i>De tintinnabulis liber postumus...de equuleo liber,</i> Harry Houdini's copy, Amsterdam, H. Wetstein, 1689. £600 to £800
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Meyer (Henry Leonard). Coloured Illustrations of British Birds, and their Eggs , 7 vol. in 2 plus Illustrations of British Birds, 4 vol., 1842-50 and [1835-51]. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>An Entirely New Romantic Drama, in Three Acts, by Mr. Wilkie Collins, called The Frozen Deep,</i> 1857. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Lighthouses and Islands of Ireland, c. 125 drawings, 1867. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Shelley (Lady Jane). Diary, 1853 & 1860. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Scottish Binding.- The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, bound in contemporary brown polished calf decorated with the figure of a Chinese spearman, by ?James Scott of Edinburgh, 1778. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>The Man Within,</i> first edition, signed by the author, 1929. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Mellan (Claude, 1598-1688). The Holy Face, or the Veil of St Veronica, [c. 1649 and later]. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Desaguliers (John Theophilus). <i>A Dissertation concerning Electricity,</i> W. Innys, and T. Longman, 1742. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Le Jeune (Paul). <i>Relation de se qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France en l'anné 1636 enuoyée au R.Pere Provincial de la Compagnie de Iesus en la Province de France,</i> 1637. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Stumpf (Johann Rudolph). <i>Gemeiner loblicher Eydgnoschafft Stetten, Landen und Völckern Chronicwirdiger thaaten beschreibung, </i> Zurich, Froschauer, 1586. £3,000 to £4,000

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