“IN PRINCIPIO ERAT VERBUM…”: MAGNIFICENT FIRST AMERICAN EDITION OF THE 42-LINE GUTENBERG BIBLE, RICHLY ILLUMINATED AND HANDSOMELY BOUND
BIBLE. Biblia Sacra. [New York: Pageant, 1961]. Two volumes. Folio, full oxblood morocco gilt, Cockerel endpapers, all edges gilt. $5500.
Splendid first American edition of Gutenberg’s celebrated 42-line Bible, reproducing the text and illumination from copies in Germany, one of only 1000 copies produced, impressive in deluxe full morocco-gilt binding.
“The first substantial book to be printed from movable types in the western world was, appropriately, the most influential of all books—the Bible” (PMM 1). Pioneering printer Johann Gutenberg’s 42-line Bible, published circa 1455, is all but unobtainable by private collectors today; this facsimile edition, however (in itself, the first American edition of the celebrated volume, and only the second facsimile edition in the world) reproduces all the beauty of Gutenberg’s landmark achievement. The clean, bold Gothic text has been reproduced lithographically. The splendid illuminations have been reproduced by sheet-fed gravure, and include richly ornamental floral borders and leafy extenders of red, blue, green and other colors on several leaves, as well as numerous large, historiated initials on gold grounds throughout. The first leaf of Genesis, for example, celebrates the seven days of Creation; the initial letter of the book of Daniel depicts him in the lions’ den; and each gospel’s initial presents the appropriate evangelist’s traditional symbol. The paper is specially produced one hunderd percent rag content. The distinguished bindings feature front boards blind-tooled with Gutenberg’s initials inside a large double diamond. Limited to 1000 copies, this edition is derived from the Insel Verlag edition itself based on the copy in the Koniglichen Bibliothek in Berlin and the Standischen Landesbibliothek (Fulda) copy.
An exceptional production in fine condition.