7 July 2004
JUSTINIAN I, Emperor (483-565). Digestorum seu pandectarum pars quinta, a libro XXVIII. usque ad librum XXXVII. Antwerp: Christophe Plantin, 1567.
8° (169 x 103mm). Roman type with some italic. Woodcut Plantin device on title. A few woodcut historiated initials. (A5 holed with slight loss to several lines.)
BINDING: contemporary black-and-white pigskin binding by Gregor Bernutz of Wittenberg (d. 1574, active from 1560), blind roll of Christ the Saviour, Peter, Paul and John at borders lettered DATA ES[T] MIHI OM[NIS]*TU ES PETRU[S]*APPARU IT BENIG[N]*ECCE AN GNUS DEI, blind-stamped portrait of Luther at centre of the front cover with legend: IN SILENCIO ET SPE RIT [SIC] FORTITUDO VES TRA MARTINUS LUTER ('Let your strength be in silence and hope'), lower cover with portrait of Melanchthon with legend: SI DEUS PRO NOBIS QUIS CONTRA NOS PHILIPPUS MELANTO. ('If God is for us who is against us?'), both signed 'G.B.' in blind, the background of the stamps and rolls painted black, manuscript title labels on spine, dark green edges (front cover slightly bowed, a little rubbing and soiling). Haebler, Rollen und Plattenstempel I, pp. 39 & 302, nos. Va & b.
PROVENANCE: Joachim ... Lange (erased ownership inscription on title) -- Johann Albert Fabricius (ownership signature on title).
A MOST UNUSUAL GERMAN RENAISSANCE BINDING BY GREGOR BERNUTZ, Wittenberg binder at a period when the town was renowned for this craft. The use of black paint or ink to show the blind-tooling in relief is remarkably effective; in this case the panel below the two portaits has been left blank, though such panels are typically found stamped with the purchaser's name. Johann Albert Fabricius (1668-1736), the German classical scholar and bibliographer, was a subsequent owner of the book and of other volumes uniformly bound by Gregor Bernutz. Maggs catalogue 380 (1918), no. 2264 (plate XXXIV) offered a set of 9 such bindings for sale, of 12 deemed to exist. Adams J-583.
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