PSALTER, Septuagint version -- Psalterion, in Greek. Edited by Justinus Decadius (b. ca. 1472). Venice: Aldus Manutius, [ca. 1496-98].
Super-chancery 4o (209 x 145 mm). Collation: -qs8 s6; -ns -us8 (r title, v editor's preface addressed to the inhabitants of Greece, r psalms 1-77, v ten Greek senarii [iambic trimeters] in praise of King David; r psalms 78-150, r 15 further senarii, register and colophon, v blank). 150 leaves. Greek types 1:146 (text) and 2:114 (preface). Capitals and headings printed in red. Woodcut ropework border printed from 4 blocks, the lateral blocks incorporating a rabbit and David playing his harp, repeated on opening text pages r and r. Woodcut divisional ornaments and strapwork initials (BMC . First state of r, with line 1 omitted and supplied in manuscript, probably at the Aldine shop. (A few discreet marginal paper repairs to first leaf.) Nineteenth-century English dark maroon straight-grain morocco gilt over pasteboard, sides paneled with multiple fillets and a dotted border, large anchor device lettered "Aldus" stamped at center of both covers, spine gilt, gilt edges, probably by Charles Lewis (joints and extremities rubbed, upper inner hinge cracked, slight discoloration to upper cover).
Provenance: Sir John Hayford Thorold (1773-1831), Syston Park Library: armorial and monogrammed bookplates, pencilled inscription on flyleaf noting that the book was purchased from Payne and Foss; sale, Sotheby's, London, 12 December 1884, lot 1643 (stating that the binding is by Charles Lewis) -- unidentified Massachusetts collector: sale, Sotheby's New York, 23 May 1978, lot 1 (to Lathrop Harper).
Third edition and first Aldine edition of the Greek liturgical psalter: "un des livres grecs les plus beaux et les plus élégants de l'imprimerie du XVe siècle, mais aussi de toute l'histoire de l'imprimerie" (Staïkos, Geneva BPU 31). Published for the use of (and possibly commssioned by) the Greek emigrés who had fled to Venice after the fall of Constantinople, the Greek text, whose liturgical content was familiar to all Latin speakers, had been used earlier in the century by gifted students of the language, and the edition, like Aldus' Greek Horae of 1497 (Goff H-391), may have served a pedagogical purpose as well. That the edition was peripheral to Aldus' main interests is evident from the fact that he did not contribute to it a preface, which was written by his editor, the Corfu emigré Giustino Decadio. The preface is printed in Aldus' second type (a reduced version of the first), in use from August 1496. The edition was presumably printed between that date and 1 October 1498, when it was advertised in Aldus' first catalogue of his Greek editions, at the relatively low price of 4 marcelli (about a third of a ducat).
HCR 13452; Ahmanson-Murphy 19; BMC V, 563 (IA.24458-61); CIBN P-644; Essling 169; Harvard/Walsh 2671-72; IGI 8122; Renouard Alde 260,8; Sander 5944; Staïkos and Manoussakas, L'activité éditoriale des Grecs pendant la Renaissance, Exhibition Geneva BPU, Athens 1988, no. 31; Goff P-1033.