The “Golden Legend” in a Contemporary Binding
VORAGINE, Jacobus de. Legenda aurea. sanctorum sive Lombrdica historia. Historiae plurimorum sanctorum, by various authors, partial text. Strassburg: Printer of the 1483 Jordanus de Quedlinburg , 1486.
Folio (11 1/2 x 8 1/2 x inches; 293 x 215 mm.). 265 leaves. Collation: [1], 18 ,26 a-z8.6 ,A-E6.8 ,F-I6.8 ,K-M6 ,N8. Gothic type. Double columns. Forty-seven lines plus headline. Initials supplied in red and blue throughout. Title-page and initial and final blank renewed and laid down.

Contemporary binding of blindstamped calf over wooden boards, rebacked with original spine laid down. Original spine chipped along top and bottom edge. Intersecting triple fillets dividing the covers, the center panel stamped in blind with fleur-de-lis and floral stamps. With two brass clasps. Later endpapers. Title-page and initial and final blank renewed and laid down. Paper flaw repaired in the lower margin of leaf 1, not affecting text. A few additional minor marginal tears or paper flaws, not affecting text. Some worming to covers and throughout the leaves, generally marginal, and otherwise only pinhole sized worming in the text. Dampstaining to the inner margins of leaves 13-26, b1-b6, and F5-N7. A few early ink marginalia. From the library of Dr. Detlef Mauss, with his name blindstamped on front free endpaper. Overall an excellent copy.

The “Golden Legend” was extremely popular in the late Middle Ages, not only on the Continent but also in Britain. Caxton printed an illustrated edition of his own translation of a much enlarged text in 1483, reprinted by his successor Wynkyn de Worde. Through 1527 a total of eight editions were published in England. But for the original Latin texts English readers had to turn abroad.

Jacobus de Voragine, who became a Dominican in 1244 and died in 1298, after six years as bishop of Genoa, wrote various works of which the Golden Legend, perhaps of the 1260s, was by far the most successful. A compilation to accompany the major feasts in the church calendar, the Golden Legend details the lives and miracles of saints and explicates events in the lives of Christ and the Virgin, ordered according to the liturgical year. It must have been the most widely consulted authority on these matters and is consequently an invaluable insight into what was generally known by writers, artists, and their patrons.

BMC I, p. 135 (IB. 1868). Copinger 6444. Goff J-117. Polain 2199. Proctor 608.

HBS # 68134 $12,500