“The Poor Man’s Bible”. Tiny incunable leaf, 1495.

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The Book of Tobias with coloured initials added by hand.

A scarce leaf from the second edition of the first Bible printed in octavo format by Johann Froben, founder of a great printer’s dynasty and friend of Erasmus. The size of Froben’s Bible conforms to that of many 13C portable manuscript Bibles written in Paris.  To keep the number of leaves within a single volume, Froben used an unusually small but very clear gothic font in 7-point size.  The Bible was known as the "Poor Man's Bible” because it was convenient to carry and easily affordable.

Recto:   Text in Latin printed in two columns in a gothic type on laid paper.  Red rulings.  Two three-line coloured initials added by hand after the printing.  Heading  “Tobias” marked in red.  Capital letters touched in yellow.  A small notation in brown ink in the right margin.

Verso: As Recto with three coloured penned initials alternating in red and blue.  Scholar’s notation in the left margin.

Printer: Johann Froben, Basel.

Date: October 27, 1495.

Content: The text is from the Book of Tobias..  The red initial “I’ at the top of the left column begins Chapter 7:

Ingressi sunt autem ad raguhelem et suscepit eos raguhel cum gaudio.  Intuensque tobiam raguhel dixit annae uxori suae quam similis est iuvenis iste consobrino meo?

(And they went in to Raguel, and Raguel received them with joy. And Raguel looking upon Tobias, said to Anna his wife: How like is this young man to my cousin?)

Condition:  The leaf is in fine condition, unblemished and expertly printed .

Size:  Leaf: 150x105 mm.

References:  Goff B 598; Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke 4275. ISTC ib00598000

Item No: PSA153

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