Beautiful French Woodcut Bible
BIBLE IN LATIN. Textus Biblie. Lyons: Per Johanem Crespin , 1529.
Second Crespin edition, reprinted from the 1527 edition. Folio (13 15/16 x 10 inches; 354 x 252 mm.). 304 leaves ([18], CCLXVIII, [18] leaves). Complete with final blank leaf. Gothic type. Text in double columns within rule borders. Title printed in red and black with small woodcut of St. Jerome (repeated three times in the text with Jerome’s prefaces) within a four-part woodcut border showing God the Father and two angels in a tympanum, the six days of Creation, and the Last Supper. Large six-part Creation woodcut at the beginning of Genesis, half-page woodcut of King Solomon at the beginning of Proverbs, full-page Nativity woodcut at the beginning of the New Testament, and 121 small text woodcuts (including twenty-three repetitions): ninety-one Old Testament woodcuts within strip borders (including eight repetitions) and thirty New Testament woodcuts without borders (including fifteen repetitions). Decorative woodcut initials. The Eusebian canons (leaves D1-D3) are printed in red and black in a red architectural framework.

Contemporary pigskin over wooden boards roll-tooled in blind to a panel design. Lacking clasps. Original index tabs. Binding worn, with some loss of pigskin on upper corner of front cover. Title soiled, lower margin of first few leaves wormed and frayed with some loss to woodcut title border, a few short marginal tears, some mostly marginal dampstaining, minor worming to lower inner margins, a few inkstains, slight discoloration throughout. Despite these minor flaws, this is a beautiful example of a French woodcut Bible, completely unsophisticated. Contemporary ink inscription on back pastedown, dated 1534, contemporary ink inscription on the recto of D4 beneath the Nativity cut, eighteenth- or nineteenth-century inscription on title: B.V. Maria, in Fürstenfeld. Some early underlining and coloring of woodcuts in red. A few early ink marginalia. Housed in a custom quarter brown morocco clamshell case.

The illustrations follow the schema of the Sacon Bibles printed in Lyons in 1518 and 1521. Crespin’s blocks, with the exception of the Creation, are close copies of those used in Jacques and Jean Mareschal’s Lyons Bibles of 1523-1541, as is the layout of the text within ruled columns. The borders for the Old Testament blocks include a strip with the initials “PBA.”

Fairfax Murray, French, 36. Harvard, French, 66. Not in Brunet, Rothschild, Darlow and Moule.

HBS # 66850 $9,500