130
130
Sefer Tehillim (Psalms), Edited by Konrad Pellikan, with Institutiuncula in Hebræam linguam, [Wolfgang Fabricius Capito], Basel: Johannes Froben, 1516
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130
Sefer Tehillim (Psalms), Edited by Konrad Pellikan, with Institutiuncula in Hebræam linguam, [Wolfgang Fabricius Capito], Basel: Johannes Froben, 1516
Estimate
15,00020,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

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Sefer Tehillim (Psalms), Edited by Konrad Pellikan, with Institutiuncula in Hebræam linguam, [Wolfgang Fabricius Capito], Basel: Johannes Froben, 1516
219 folios (4 1/8 x 2 7/8 in.; 105 x 73 mm) on paper (1 blank removed); no foliation; single-column text of thirteen lines to a page; headers throughout Hebrew section only; complete vocalization of Hebrew text, accentuation limited to use of etnahta; psalm numeration precedes each psalm and appears in the header (manuscript marginal psalm numeration of first eight psalms in pen); no verse numeration; Tetragrammaton and various forms of E-lohim almost always use dalet to avoid bestowing sanctity on the Names; justification of lines via use of anticipatory letters; no catchwords; strikethroughs and corrections of Hebrew in rear Latin (introduction and errata) sections in pen and pencil. Enlarged incipits for each new psalm; woodcut printer’s device in the form of a caduceus on Hebrew title; woodcut initial on first page of Latin introduction at rear; table of Hebrew letters (without final forms) and their names on f. [11r] of Latin introduction. Slight scattered staining; minor dampstaining in upper margins throughout; small hole on Hebrew title; ff. [62-63] of Hebrew section uncut; small tears in upper margins of ff. [62], [72] of Hebrew section. Contemporary blind-panelled pigskin, both covers with outer lozenge and floral roll-tool and central panel with a repeated parallel roll-tool forming an allover foliate decor, slightly worn and rubbed; title written in black ink on spine; spine in four compartments with raised bands; original paper flyleaves and pastedowns, lightly wormed; two brass clasps catching on front board, upper clasp repaired with string. Housed in a fitted cloth case with half calf spine; gilt title and year on spine.
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Catalogue Note

A rare exemplar of the first pocket-size edition of any part of the Hebrew Bible and the first independent Hebrew work published in Basel.

Hebrew printing in Basel began in 1508 with the appearance of the third revised edition of Gregor Reisch’s (1467-1525) Margarita philosophica, the first “modern” encyclopedia, which included a page reproducing the names and forms of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet (without the vowels). The first full-bodied Hebrew text to appear there was published in September 1516 by Johannes Froben (ca. 1640-1527), one of the most eminent humanist scholar-printers of his age and an anchor of the Basel book trade, as an appendix to volume eight of a nine-volume edition of St. Jerome’s collected works. This folio-sized polyglot edition of the Psalms, edited by the famous Christian Hebraist Konrad Pellikan (1478-1556), included the text in its original Hebrew and in three translations: Septuagint, Itala (Old Latin), and Vulgate.

Two months later, in November, Froben published the present, independent, pocket-size edition of the Hebrew Psalms using the same text as that printed in the polyglot, but imposed from right to left in the manner of Hebrew books. The editor, Pellikan, had learned Hebrew on his own, and so it should not surprise us that his Hebrew-language dedication on f. [1v] is replete with errors, or that his student Sebastian Muenster (1488-1552), who would go on to become another famous Christian Hebraist and reformer, had to append at the end twelve pages of errata (which themselves included a number of mistakes; on which phenomenon, see also Prijs [1964-1965]). At the rear is a short Latin introduction to the Hebrew language, entitled Institutiuncula in Hebræam linguam and imposed from left to right, that was compiled by Wolfgang Fabricius Capito (ca. 1478-1541), Professor of Theology at the University of Basel, under the pseudonym Volphango Fabro. In it, he expresses the wish, in the spirit of the Renaissance, that readers would memorize the Psalms in Hebrew, for then “the truth will pour into you most liberally, and from the purest sources.”

The text itself is interesting for a number of reasons. First, the printer added headers with psalm numbers to this edition, an improvement over its September predecessor. Second, he marked the midpoint of the book at Ps. 78:38 (f. [103r]), as if it were the start of a new psalm. Last, the book combines Ps. 114 and 115, which are normally considered two separate psalms in most Hebrew versions of the text, resulting in a total of one hundred forty-nine, rather than one hundred fifty, psalms.

This important edition of the Psalms, which would go on to be reprinted often through the 1560s, was rare already in 1767 and was included by Charles Cuissard in his catalog of incunabula and rare imprints published in 1895. It would appear that only one American college library owns a copy and that the book has never yet come to public auction.

Provenance

Philip Jakob Spimberg(?) (pastedown of lower board)

Literature

Charles Cuissard, Catalogue des incunables et des éditions rares (Orleans: Georges Michau, 1895), 75 (no. 295).

Joseph and Bernhard Prijs, Die Basler hebräischen Drucke, 1492-1866 im Auftrag der Öffentlichen Bibliothek der Universität Basel (Olten: Urs Graf-Verlag, 1964-1965), 11-14 (no. 6).

Johann Bartholomäus Riederer, Nachrichten zur Kirchen-Gelerten und Bücher-Geschichte aus gedruckten und ungedruckten Schriften, pt. 13 (Altdorf: Lorenz Schüpfel, 1767), 1-11.

Vinograd, Basel 5

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