The printer of the Nuremberg Renaissance

[Biblia latina]. Biblia latina.

Nuremberg, Anton Koberger, 14 April 1478.

Folio (295 x 425 mm). First part only: 233 (instead of 486) ff.; the relevant trimmed section of the first leaf (table of contents) is glued to the front pastedown. With numerous illuminated itinials in red and mint green; rubricated throughout. Contemporary full gothic calf over bevelled boards, ruled and stamped in blind with floral devices, with 9 out of 10 brass corner and centre pieces with bosses and two clasps on leather bands.


Koberger's third Latin Bible, printed with the same types as the second, in the splendid Gothic typeface which Koberger used exclusively for his Bibles; at the same time, the earliest type he is known to have used (cf. Klemm, Bibliogr. Mus., 722). Published less than thirty years into the era of the printed book and housed in an attractive period binding, the pages are hand-illuminated with numerous capitals in red and green throughout. The most elaborate of these is found on the first page, in a floral design in brown and green.

Koberger, who is probably best known for his landmark "Nuremberg Chronicle", published his Bible fifteen years prior to the chronicle, marking an important early phase in his career. Reflecting its early years of ownership, the copy contains early ink marginalia and manicules in at least two very early and very distinct hands, mostly in Latin, but with one short note in German.

For some years, Koberger was a leading printer-publisher of the Northern Renaissance, of which he was an integral part. He established the first printing press in the city, and was godfather to Albrecht Dürer. His total output was a monumental undertaking, comprising some two hundred works. "In the actual number of separate works issued, Koberger was possibly equaled by one or more of his contemporaries, but in respect to literary importance and costliness, and in the beauty and excellence of the typography, the Koberger publications were not equaled by any books of the time excepting the issues of Aldus in Venice" (Putnam II, p. 150).


With notes in the hands of two early owners, both likely German. First leaf has erased handwritten ownership of an unidentified convent, dated to the early 18th century.


Leaves 3 through 8 are bound out of place, between leaves 11 and 12; some slight marginal waterstaining throughout, though mainly in first half, not affecting the text; occasional other minor stains; red and green ink occasionally bleeding; a few small marginal chips (from tabs having detached); some light worming near gutter in places (no loss of text). Generally a beautiful copy in excellent condition and in a remarkably early binding.


HC 3068*. Goff B-557. GW 4232. Bod-inc B-266. BSB B-249. ISTC ib00557000.

Stock Code: BN#63021 Tags: , ,