Bound in 14 volumes, 16mo (4¼ x 2½ in.; 108 x 64 mm). Woodcut printer's device on most titles, woodcut head-piece, I (Five books of the Law): a-r8, s10=146 leaves; II (Exodus, Leviticus): t-z8, aa-kk8, ll4, mm-yy8=300 leaves, ll4 is blank; III (Numbers, Deuteronomy): zz8, A-N8, O10, P-Z8, AA-DD8, EE4=230 leaves including final blank; IV (Joshua, Judges): A-T8=152 leaves of which last 2 are blank; V (Kings): A-Z8=184 leaves; VI (Samuel): a-y8=176 leaves; VII (Psalms): from the later edition, A-V8=160 leaves, title page with minor loss not affecting text or image; VIII (Proverbs, Job): AA-NN8, OO10=114 leaves; IX (Isaiah): A-Q8, R4=132 leaves; X (Jeremiah): a-x8=160 leaves; XI (Paralipomenon): A-Z8=184 leaves including final blank; XII (Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Five Scrolls): a-p8, A-K8=200 leaves (dampstains in lower margin of a few leaves); XIII (Ezekiel): aa-ss8=144 leaves; XIV (Twelve Prophets): A-P8=120 leaves including 3 final blanks. Nineteenth century crimson calf, gilt roll-tooled frames, spines richly gilt, gilt edges, in a black cloth slipcase; joints worn or cracked but intact, a few spines chipped at extremities.
Vinograd, Paris 18, 51; Steinschneider 115; Renouard 65, 1
This complete set of pocket-sized Hebrew Bible volumes was printed by Robert Estienne (also called Stephanus), over a two and a half year period beginning in November of 1543 and ending in March of 1546. Estienne, the pre-eminent scholar-printer of the French Renaissance, had been appointed as royal printer of Hebrew in 1539 but even royal approval could not prevent the clerical opposition that beleaguered him in Paris, and in 1550, in order to escape his persecutors, he emigrated to Geneva.
Estienne's printer's device, a man standing under an olive tree with falling branches, appears on the title-page of each part of this work. The full titles in Hebrew are followed by brief Latin titles and the Hebrew incipits of the individual books are set in type within cartouche headpieces at the beginning of each text.
Concerning this minuscule 16° edition, Renouard (Estienne, p. 65, no.1) wrote: "This small edition is a true typographic jewel, and perhaps the most beautiful example that has ever been printed in the Hebrew language.
Of all the books of the Hebrew Bible, the text of the book of Psalms is the most frequently recited, often on a daily basis. More than any other volume in this miniature set, Psalms was likely to have been carried about even as the rest of the volumes might have been perused less regularly. As noted by Schreiber, most copies of this set include, as does the present lot, the later (1565) Psalms printed by Robert Estienne II.
Vol. 1: Genesis; Vol. 2: Exodus, Leviticus; Vol. 3: Numbers, Deuteronomy; Vol. 4: Joshua, Judges; Vol. 5: Kings; Vol.6: Samuel; Vol. 7: Psalms (1565); Vol. 8: Proverbs, Job; Vol. 9: Isaiah; Vol. 10: Jeremiah; Vol11: Chronicles; Vol.12: Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther; Vol 13: Ezekiel; Vol. 14: Minor Prophets
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