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

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The Book of Ezekiel

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  “Ezechiel” marked in red.  Capital letters touched in yellow.

Verso: As Recto with one coloured penned initial.

Printer: Johann Froben, Basel.

Date: October 27, 1495.

Content: The text is from the Book of Ezekiel.  The blue initial “E’ in the left column begins Chapter 31:  Et factum est in undecimo anno tertio una mensis factum est verbum Domini ad me dicens.  Fili hominis dic Pharaoni regi Aegypti et populo eius cui similis factus es in magnitudine tua . Ecce Assur quasi cedrus in Libano pulcher ramis et frondibus nemorosus excelsusque…

(Now it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the third month, on the first day of the month, that the word of the Lord came to me, saying,  "Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his multitude: 'Whom are you like in your greatness?  Indeed Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon, with fine branches that shaded the forest…)

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:  PSA151

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