ISIDORUS HISPALENSIS (c. 560-636). Etymologiae. [Cologne: Conrad Winters, de Homborch, not after 1476].
Interpretationes hebraicorum nominum [also found as part of Biblia Latina, Goff B-553]. Basel: Bernhard Richel, 8 September 1477. [And:] JERUNG, Henricus (fl. 15th century). Elucidarius scripturarum. Nuremberg: Friedrich Creussner, 6 June 1476.
Rare third edition of the Etymologiae, an encyclopedia of ‘infinitely greater importance’ than any other printed in the 15th century (PMM). Bound with the first edition of Jerung’s encyclopedic reference work on the Bible. A large, fresh copy, with handsome contemporary illumination and binding and preserving colour instructions to the artist.
3 works in one volume, royal folio (391 x 288mm). With the blank leaves, woodcut T-O world map, 6 astronomical woodcuts with contemporary colouring, (light worming in first few quires of Interpretationes with minor loss, first blank detached). Uniformly illuminated, decorated and rubricated in blue and red by a contemporary German artist, first page of each work with floral border, initials in fictive frame, some with extensions, spaces for Greek text in Isidorus filled by the rubricator. Contemporary Erfurt blindstamped pigskin over wooden boards, metal corner, side and central pieces, fore-edge clasps. Provenance: Fulda, Kloster Frauenberg, Franciscan convent (17th-century inscription, stamp).
The first, 1472, edition of the Etymologiae contained the first printed map. The map in the present third edition is a new woodblock copying the second, more elaborate version. Also noted for containing the first printed reference to arithmetic, the Etymologiae provided to medieval and Renaissance scholars an invaluable single source of late classical scientific knowledge and lexicography. Isidore became ‘the chief authority of the Middle Ages, and the presence of his book in every monastic, cathedral, and college library was a main factor in perpetuating the state of knowledge and the modes of thought of the late-Roman world’ (PMM). Treated are mathematics, astronomy, geography, meteorology, geology, botany, agriculture, human anatomy, medicine, shipbuilding, architecture and other technological subjects. The reference to arithmetic is in book III, ‘De vocabulario arithmetice discipline’ (see Stillwell, Awakening Interest in Science 180).
The volume is not only handsomely decorated, but it retains contemporary instructions to the colourist for most of the painted initials. A large, fresh copy, retaining many deckle edges and much of the contemporary ms. quiring in the Etymologiae. Both works are rare on the market. No copy of this edition of the Etymologiae has been sold at auction in over 40 years, and only one other copy of the Jerung has been sold at auction since 1961.
The Interpretation of Hebrew Names is considered part of the 1477 Biblia Latina [Goff B-553] but clearly circulated independently, and it is found on its own or bound at the time with other works, as here. Isidorus: Not in the British Library. HC *9271; Klebs 536.3; BSB-Ink I-629; Campbell(Maps) 79; Goff I-183. Jerung: H *9371; BMC II 447; Bod-inc J-095; BSB-Ink I-135; Goff J-219.