Close BB-5 Biblia Pauperum

[Edition VIII]. Incipit: ‘Legit(ur) in genesi . iij . cap(itul)o q(uod) dixit d(omi)n(u)s serpenti super pect(us) tuu(m) gradier(is) . . .’ Edition VIII is one of two which represent the third group of Biblia pauperum blockbooks. Whereas Musper held, in numerous publications, that edition VIII is the editio princeps, more recent publications have disputed this, and Kroll shows that it is much more likely to be a direct copy of edition I, which itself derives from edition IV (Kroll, ‘Beobachtungen’, 296). It is to be distinguished from edition IX, which is known from only two copies in Basel Oeffentl. Kunstsammlung and London BL, by plates r–v, which were recut.

refs. Musper, ‘Urausgabe der ndl. Biblia pauperum’; Musper, ‘Urausgaben’; V. Scholderer, review of Musper, Urausgaben (facsimile), Library, 3rd series, 18 (1963), 145–7; Donati, ‘Libri xilografici’, 239–42; A. Henry, ‘The Forty-page Blockbook ‘Biblia Pauperum’: Schreiber Editions I and VIII Reconsidered’, Oud Holland, 95 (1981), 127–150; Kroll, ‘Beobachtungen’, passim.

 [Germany, c.1462–8]. Chancery folio.

 40 leaves, all with woodcuts and xylographic text, signatures a–v, .a.–.v. Collation: [1–202]. There are 3 complete copies of edition VIII, in Cologne UStB and Paris BnF, and the Gotha-Doheny copy (offered for sale by Quaritch in London, 22 Oct. 1987); 3 imperfect copies in Edinburgh NLS (39 leaves), Vaticano BAV (39 leaves), and Wolfenbüttel HAB (38 leaves); 2 large fragments in Paris BnF (15 leaves) and Providence, Brown Univ. JCBL (16 leaves); further fragments in Darmstadt LHSB (2 leaves), Copenhagen RL (1 leaf), Washington NGA (R) (1 leaf), Weimar ZBKlassik (1 leaf), and a leaf auctioned by Sotheby’s in London on 21 June 1993. Fragments from the same copy as that in the Bodleian, first attested in the early eighteenth century, are preserved in Cambridge UL, Inc Frag 0 [4127], Oates no. 7 (a section of fol. f); London BM Print & Drawings (Bagford collection of fragments, portions of pls d, k, and l; pls n, o, and p, from Harley MS. 5934); cf. Schreiber, Manuel, IV 7 (described as a ‘Bedford’ fragment); Dodgson, Catalogue, I 209 no. C 3; BMC I 4. The paper stocks point to the Netherlands, and Baurmeister’s cautious dating ‘c.1462–8’ (CIBN I p. xiv) is based on the watermark evidence of the Paris copies. Facsimiles of edition VIII: Musper, Urausgaben (facsimile) (Wolfenbüttel copy); Donati–Tocci, Pal. lat. 143 (Vatican copy).

ills. Musper, ‘Urausgabe der ndl. Biblia pauperum’, 82 ills 1–2 (Wolfenbüttel copy); Musper, ‘Die Datierung und Lokalisierung der ältesten gedruckten Bücher und Laurens Janszoon Coster’, Die graphischen Künste, nf 3 (1938), 41–52, at 48 ill. 6 (Wolfenbüttel copy); Schreiber, Handbuch, XI pls 172–9; The Estelle Doheny Collection . . . Part I: Fifteenth-century Books including the Gutenberg Bible (London: Sotheby’s, 22 Oct. 1987), frontispiece and 6 plates of lot 73; Kroll, ‘Beobachtungen’, 300 and 307 (Paris copy); M. W. Driver, ‘The Image Redux: Pictures in Block-books and What Becomes of Them’, in Blockbücher des Mittelalters, 341–52, ill. XV.7 at 346, ill. XV.12 at 349 (Brown Univ. copy).

refs. Heinecken, Idée, 292–333; Sotheby I 63 (‘edition 3’); Schreiber, Manuel, IV 7–8, 10–89; BMC I 6; Hind I 238; Donati, ‘Libri xilografici’, 211–3; M. H. Wolf, Catalogue and Indexes to the Title-pages of English Printed Books preserved in the British Library’s Bagford Collection (London, 1974), p. xviii (Harl. 5943); Kroll, ‘Beobachtungen’; CIBN I p. xiv.

copy A cutting, preserving almost the full width of the original leaf (fol. h). 115 × 169 mm. No watermark. Printed in grey ink on one side of the paper by rubbing. Uncoloured. The verso, which shows signs of pasting, is blank. Worm-holes. The upper edge of the fragment is pierced with pairs of prickings or staple holes in four places, suggesting that the leaf may have been reused in some way that is no longer clear as padding or scrap paper. Tipped to page 18 of volume 50 of Thomas Hearne’s manuscript ‘Remarks and Observations’, dated 1714, where it is used by the author in an essay on early printing (pp. 15–27) to illustrate his discussion of the earliest printing ink, the use of colour in printed books, and the practice of printing blockbooks on one side of the paper only, so that the leaves could be hung up in churches, chapels, and houses. Hearne also refers to ‘two thin folio books containing old Pictures (from woodencuts)’ in the Bodleian Library, presumably BB-2 and the ‘Sammelband’ BB-6 and 7. Cf. Remarks and Observations of Thomas Hearne, ed. D. W. Rannie, vol. IV, OHS, 34 (Oxford, 1898), 342. For details of further fragments in Cambridge UL and London BM (Prints & Drawings), which derive from the same copy as that in the Bodleian, see above. A note kept together with the Cambridge leaf refers to three fragments of this book, now apparently lost, in the possession of ‘EFB’, possibly to be identified with the author E. F. Benson (1867–1940), who bought them from the widow of the Revd H. L. Deck (1852–1910), who inherited them from his father; one of these leaves is said to have contained an inscription in the handwriting of the antiquary Thomas Baker (1656–1740), Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge, stating that they were given to him by Mr Bagford. Portions of pls d, f, h, k, l, n, o, and p are preserved, suggesting that the material which came into the hands of the bibliographer John Bagford may only have been a partial copy. This copy is mentioned in a letter from Bagford to Hearne dated 23 Mar. 1710, in which the writer states ‘Just now I have in my custity on of the same Examplarys of the Book so much talked of by trauelers to Harlem mentioned by Had. Junius and Buxhornius as to be the first speciment of printing and at Harlem’ (MS. Rawl. Letters 21, no. 17, fol. 31).

refs. Pr 47; Blockbücher des Mittelalters, 404, 383; Sheppard no. 5.

Binding: The host manuscript has an early eighteenth-century inboard binding for Thomas Hearne. 164 × 103 × 20 mm. Quarter parchment over rope-fibre millboard, the boards not sided with paper.

Provenance: Cambridge, unidentified bookbinder (fl. 1710); Hearne records that Bagford owned further fragments of the blockbook ‘communicated to him by [a very curious and learned Gentleman (deleted)] a Bookbinder of Cambridge’ (p. 18). John Bagford (1650–1716), who is recorded in the ‘Remarks and Observations’ as having given the leaf to Hearne (p. 17). Thomas Hearne (1678–1735); dated inscription on p. i: ‘Suum cuique Tho: Hearne. 1714’. William Bedford (†1747). Richard Rawlinson (1690–1755). Bequeathed in 1755.

shelfmark: MS. Hearne’s diaries vol. 50, p. 19a.