Lot 38
  • 38

Bible in Latin

18,000 - 25,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Bible, Latin. Basel: Johann Froben, 27 June 1491
  • leather,ink,paper
Chancery octavo (147 × 106 mm). Collation: π4 (title-page, Froben’s Exhortatio to readers, mnemonic verses, Summarium Biblie); a-y A-Z8 (Old Testament); 1-108 114 2118 (New Testament; colophon on 211/8v); A-E8 (Interpretationes nominum Hebraicorum; Translatores Biblie, Modi intelligendi scripturam): 496 leaves, a1 and E7-8 blank. 2 columns, 56 lines + headline. Initial spaces with guide letters (rubricated in red and blue: alternating lombard initials, underlining, bracket strokes and paragraph marks). Some leaves with stains and finger marks from steady use. Seventeenth-century German calf gilt with small tools including pointillé volutes, edges stained dark blue with elaborate gilt gauffering; corners bumped and joints abraded. 


M. Sebastianus Pfaff (inscription dated 1533) — “Mart. Frulin [?] J. U. L.” (title-page inscription) — Freiherrin von Rosskampf, Heilbronn — “Guiot” (inscription recording gift by the former, 1806)


Formatting the Word of God 2.2; Goff B-592; Hain 3107*; GW 4269; BMC III 789 (IA.38783); BSB-Ink B-466; Bod-inc B-300

Catalogue Note

The first Bible printed in octavo format, and the first book signed by Johann Froben, founder of a great printer’s dynasty and friend of Erasmus. The size of Froben’s Bible conforms to that of many thirteenth-century portable Bibles written in Paris and elsewhere. Froben’s Exhortatio emphasized this feature: “in view of its small size this could better be called a mini-Bible than a Bible” (aptius Bibliola quam Biblia dici poterit). To keep the number of leaves within a single volume, Froben used an unusually small but very clear gothic fount, in today’s nomenclature of 7-point size. The octavo format was clearly welcomed by readers: Froben printed a second edition in 1495 (Goff B-598), and there followed three Italian octavo Vulgate editions of 1492, 1496, and 1497, as well as Gershom Soncino’s Hebrew Bible in octavo, Brescia, 1494 (Goff Heb-10).