BIBLE, IN LOW GERMAN. With glosses according to Nicolaus de Lyra's postils. Cologne: [Heinrich Quentell, about 1478].
First edition of the Bible in Low German, and the first appearance in print of the celebrated large-scale woodcuts attributed to the 'Master of the Cologne Bibles'. Most of the 113 woodcut compositions correspond closely with the illustrations in a manuscript Low Rhenish Bible produced in Cologne 1457, now in Berlin (Ms. germ. fol. 516). These cuts exerted a decisive influence on later Bible illustrations, including Anton Koberger of Nuremberg, who acquired the blocks for use in his German Bible of 1483. Quentell published 2 nearly identical Low German Bibles almost simultaneously: one is in the West Low German dialect resembling Dutch (Hain 3141; Darlow and Moule 4182); the other, the present lot, is in the Low Saxon dialect, and is given priority. 'With the exception of Dürer's Apocalypse, the most influential woodcut programme from Germany was that of the Cologne Bible 1478/9' (David H. Price, 'The Bible and the visual arts in early modern Europe' in New Cambridge History of the Bible, 3, 723. It is extremely rare: the last copy that we can trace as selling at auction was the Aldenham copy at Sotheby's 22 March 1937, lot 43. H *3142; GW 4307; BMC I, 264-5 (IC. 4411); CIBN B-446; Schreiber 3465; Goff B-636; Darlow and Moule 4183.
Royal folio (402 x 276mm). Illuminated initials on b1 and aa1, initials in red and blue, strokes and paragraph marks rubricated, 3 (of 4) leaves - Genesis, Proverbs and Revelation - with wide woodcut borders, Genesis with a large woodcut of the creation of Eve, 113 woodcut text illustrations (first 2 leaves in 19th-century manuscript facsimile, b3 and ii1 defective with large portion of text in 19th-century manuscript facsimile, lacking first and last blanks, b10 misbound between b3 and b4, first two and final quires loose with associated fraying at edges and some minor wear at gutter, insignificant marginal damp staining affecting a number of quires throughout, very minor marginal worming affecting leaves FF5-LL2, some minor marginal repairs). Contemporary blindstamped calf over wooden boards, metal corner and centrepieces, clasps, trefoil stamps to covers and clasp fittings (worn, spine heavily with portions defective, 19th-century flyleaves). Provenance: early prayers in Low German and pen trials on vellum pastedowns -- some early marginalia in 15th- and 16th-century hands, moreso in the New Testament -- some early pen trails and juvenalia in margins at beginning --Ernest Georg Uhlich (Captain-Lieutenant in the Artillery, inscription on the 3 leaves with woodcut borders noting purchase at Meppen in 1678) -- Johannes Franciscus Wredell (inscription in margin of one leaf).