169J  Diß durchleuchtigist werck der gantzen heyligen geschrifft. genant dy bibel

[Nuremberg] : Gedruckt durch Anthonium Koburger in der löblichen keyserlichen reychstat Nürenberg 1483                                $220,000

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Two large folio volumes bound as one, [a4, b-d8, e6, f-z8, A-O8, P6, Q-Z8, aa-zz8, AA-CC8, DD-FF6]. Bound in original alum tawd pigskin over wooden boards with both clasps.

This Anton Koberger’s  Biblia Germanica , the ninth German Bible to be printed, appeared in 1483, the year that Martin Luther was born This edition is the only one that Koberger issued in German.  Koberger issued it in three states: 1)highly embellished, with finely-painted woodcuts and illuminations on some pages; 2)  hand-painted, with no illumination; 3) and plain black-and-white, as printed. This one of which belongs to the first group. 109 woodcuts (87 in the Old Testament and 12 in the New Testament) from 108 blocks, ALL WITH CONTEMPORARY HAND-COLORING in green, orange, yellow, ochre and maroon, very probably executed in Koberger’s shop,

DSC_0146The first Bible printed in German appeared as early as 1466. The present edition is usually called the ‘ninth German Bible’; the ‘eleventh’, however, would be more correct, if one includes the Low German Cologne Bibles in the chronological sequence of German bibles. Koberger’s edition is regarded as typographically the finest, and is without doubt the best-known and the most influential of the German Bibles before Martin Luther.  For the illustration of this Bible, Koberger used the series of 108 large woodblocks published before in the two Low German Bibles printed in Cologne in 1478-1479.

Imprints from colophon on leaf [FF5] verso, which reads: Gedruckt durch anthonium koburger in der löbichen keyserlichen reychstat Nüremberg. Nach der ge-burt cristi des gesetzs der genaden . vierzehenhundert vnd in dem dreyvndachtzigste[n] iar. Montag nach Invocavit.

DSC_0144This Bible of Koberger’s professes to be, and apparently is, ‘a revision made with great diligence.’ The corrections were possibly derived from the Cologne Low German Bible [of 1480?, Darlow & Moule 4182], with which Koberger’s edition has many illustrations and other details in common .The initial letters are filled in by hand. The book contains over 109 woodcuts, generally measuring about 12 x18.5 cm. The blocks are identical with those in [Darlow & Moule] No. 4182.” (D. & M.).

 Book sequence as follows :

(fol. in Arabic numerals): Hieronymus, [Letter addressed to] Paulinus presbiter, 1r-4r, i.e. [a1]r-[a4]r; Pentateuch, 4r-100, including prologue, 4r-v, i.e. [a4]r-v; Joshua, 100r-111r, i.e. [b1]r-[p5]r, including prologue; Judges, 111r-122v, i.e. [p5]r-[q8]v; Ruth, 123r-124r, i.e. [r1]r-[r2]4; Kings 1-2, 124v-155r, i.e. [r2]v-[x1]r, including prologue, [r2]v-[r3]r; Kings 3-4, 155r-184r, i.e. [x1]r-[A5]r; Chronicles 1-2, 184v-213r, DSC_0142[A5]v-[E3]r, including prologues, [A5]v-[A6]v; Prayer of Manasse, 213v, i.e. [E3]v; Ezra 1-2, 213v-225r, i.e. [E3]v-[F7]r, including prologue, [E3]v-[E4]r; Ezra 3, 225r-231v, i.e. [F7]r-[G5]v; Tobit, 232r-237r, i.e. [G6]r-[H3]r, including prologue; Judith, 237v-243r, i.e. [H3]v-[I1]r, with prologue, 237r, [H3]r; Ester, 243v-249v, i.e. [I1]v-[I7]v, including prologue; Job, 251r-262v, i.e. [K1]r-[L4]v, preceded by 2 prologues, 249v-250v, i.e. [I7]v-[I8]v; Psalms, 263v-295v, i.e. [L5]v-[P5]v, preceded by 2 prologues, 263r-v, i.e. [L5]r-v; Proverbs. 296r-306r, i.e. [Q2]r-[R4]r, including Hieronymus, Epistola, [Q2]r; Ecclesiastes, 306r-310r, i.e. [R4]r-[R8]r, including prologue, 306r-v, i.e. [R4]r-v; Song of Solomon, 310r-311v, i.e. [R8]r-[S1]v; Wisdom of Solomon, 311v-318v, i.e. [S1]v-[S8]v; Ecclesiasticus, 318v-337r, i.e. [S8]v-[X3]r, including prologue, 318v-319r, i.e. [S8]v-[T1]r; Prayer of Iesus Sirach, 337r-v, i.e. [X3]r-v; Prayer of Salomon, 337v, i.e. [X3]v; Isaiah, 337v-360r, i.e. [X3]v-[aa2]r, including prologue, 337v-338r, i.e. [X3]v-[X4]r; Jeremiah, 360r-385r, i.e. [aa2]r-[dd3]r, including 2 prologues, 360r-v, i.e. [aa2]r-v; Lamentations, 385r-387v, i.e. [dd3]r-[dd5]v, including Prayer of Jeremiah, [dd5]r-v; Baruch, 387v-390v, i.e. [dd5]v-[dd8]v, including prologue; Ezechiel, DSC_0138390v-414r, i.e. [dd8]v-[gg8]r, including prologue, 390v-391r, i.e. [dd8]v-[ee1]r; Daniel, 415r-425r, i.e. [hh1]r-[ii3]r, preceded by prologue, 414r-v, i.e. [gg8]r-v; Minor Prophets, 425v-443r, i.e. [ii3]v-[ll5]r, including prologue, 425r, i.e.[ii3]r; Malachia, 443r-444r, i.e. [ll5]r-[ll6]r; Maccabees 1-2, 444v-469r, i.e. [ll6]v-[oo7]r, including prologue; Argumenta in Matheum, 469v-470r, i.e. [oo7]v-[oo8]r; Matthew, 470r-484v, i.e. [oo8]r-[qq6]v; Mark, 485v-493v, i.e. [qq7]v-[rr7]v, preceded by prologue, 484v-485r, i.e. [qq6]v-[qq7]r; Luke, 494v-509v, i.e. [rr8]v-[tt7]v, preceded by prologue, 494r-v, i.e. [rr8]r-v; John, 509v-521r, [tt7]v-[xx3]r, including prologue, 509v-510r, i.e. [tt7]v-[tt8]r; Paul. Epistles, 521v-553v, i.e. [xx3]v-[BB3]v, including preface, prologue and argument, 521v-522v, i.e. [xx3]v-[xx4]v; Acts, 553v-568r [foliated 468], i.e. [BB3]v-[DD2]r, including prologue, 553v-554r, i.e. [BB3]v-[BB4]r; Prologue to the canonical epistles, 568r [foliated 468], i.e. [DD2]r; James. Epistle, 568r [foliated 468]-569v, i.e. [DD2]r-[DD3]v, including prologue; Peter. Epistles 1-2, 569v-572r, i.e. [DD3]v-[DD6]r, including prologues; John. Epistles 1-3, 572r-574v, i.e. [DD6]r-[EE2]v, including prologues; Jude. Epistle, 574v-575r, i.e. [EE2]v-[EE3]r, including prologue; Revelation [or Apocalypse], 575r-583v, i.e. [EE3]r-[FF5]v.

DSC_0141 The most important illustrated book produced in Nuremberg during Dürer’s youth was this two-volume German Bible. The edition was published by Dürer’s godfather, Anton Koberger, who directed one of the most successful printing shops of the fifteenth century. The woodcuts used in this book originally were produced in Cologne for Heinrich Quentell’s German Bible, published c. 1478. 


Purchased for re-use by Koberger in

Nuremberg, these woodblocks contributed much to Dürer’s artistic vocabulary. This set became the standard for German biblical illustration through the 16th century. Koberger (ca. 1445-1513) became one of the most important printers in fifteenth-century Germany. He may have operated as many as twenty-four presses and produced some 250 works between ca. 1471 and 1504. BIBLE, IN GERMAN. Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 17 February 1483. 2 volumes in one, royal 2° (375 x 255mm). Collation: [14 2-48 56 6-378 386; 39-728 73-756] (11r St. Jerome’s letter to Paulinus, 1/4r prologue to the Pentateuch, 2/1r Genesis-Psalms, 38/6 blank; 39/1 blank, 39/2r St. Jerome’s letter on Proverbs, Proverbs-Maccabees, New Testament, 75/6 blank). 585 leaves (of 586, without final blank 75/6).

(See H. Wendland, “Eine fünfhundertjährige Inkunabel – Anton Kobergers deutsche Bibel”, <i>Philobiblon</i>, 28, 1984, pp. 30-37). H *3137; GW 4303; BMC II, 424 (C.11.d.4,5); Schreiber 3461; BSB-Ink B-490; Goff B-632.

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