Concordantiae bibliorum

Strassburg: Johann Mentelin, not after 1474. Folio (410 x 292 mm). Gothic types, 3 columns, 66 lines. Collation: the following gatherings all have stamped signatures a: [a–i^10 k l^8 m^10]; stamped signatures b: [2a–d^10 e^8+1 f^10 g–l^10]; stamped signatures c: [3a–h^10 i^12]; stamped signatures d: [4a–h^10 i^8 k^12]. 415 leaves (of 417, lacking preliminary and terminal blanks). 9-line initial "Q" in red and yellow on first page of text, 7- to 8-line initials in red for each letter of the alphabet, column headings in red in upper margin, rubricated throughout. Approximately 50 leaves with mostly marginal tiny worm holes occasionally touching letters, the last leaf with lower half renewed not affecting text, a few leaves at end with skillful marginal repairs, occasionally affecting signature. Item #403583


FIRST EDITION. Binding: Contemporary German dark brown calf over bevelled wooden boards, sides with two broad double-fillet outer panels bounding a floral roll, the central panels with intersecting double-filets forming diamonds and triangles, each decorated within with roseate, leaf, quatrefoil, stag, and star tools, the spine in five compartments with four double-corded raised bands, 18th-century tan lettering-piece on spine in the second compartment, brass clasps and catches, printer’s waste endpapers. Straps and hardware renewed, probably when the label was added, some overall wear, old repairs to joints preserving original spine.

“The origins of the Latin biblical concordance must be sought in the thirteenth century at the Dominican convent of St. Jacques in Paris, during a period when theologians felt urgent need for a compilation of all the uses of a particular scriptural word or phrase. Richard and Mary Rouse, in their fundamental article, ‘The Verbal Concordance to the Scriptures’ (Archivum Fratrum Praedicatorum 44 [1974], 5-30), have shown that three attempts were then made to produce such a concordance, all seemingly at St. Jacques. It was the third of these, to which the name of Conrad of Halberstadt was later erroneously attached by Trithemius, that won the day and obtained the largest diffusion. Over eighty manuscripts of this version survive, the majority written in Paris between 1280 and 1330” (Paul Meyvaert and Serge Lusignan, review of Novae concordantiae Bibliorum Sacrorum iuxta vulgatam versionem by Bonifatius Fischer, in: Speculum, Vol. 56, No. 3, July 1981, pp. 611-613).

Johannes Mentelin had published the first printed Bible in German in 1466 and Nicolaus de Lyra’s Postilla super totam Bibliam, a commentary on the Bible, in 1472. Of the approximately 40 works ascribed to his press, the Concordantiae bibliorum is notable as “very peculiar in its method of signature, and shows in an interesting manner the transitional period between the manuscript and printed methods of signing" (William Blades, "The Use & Development of Signatures in Books" in: Books in Chains and Other Bibliographical Papers (1892), pp. 110-112). The signatures, mostly preserved in this copy, are printed in the lower right corner. The text is divided in quarters and designated with stamped signatures “a” through “d”. The copy in Leipzig UB has a rubricator’s date of 1474, establishing the latest possible year of publication.

Scarce: Only two other copies have been offered at auction in the last 40 years: The Blades–St. Bride Foundation–Rattey copy (sold Swann, 15 April 2004, lot 45, now in the Scheide Library, Princeton) and the copy sold Christie's London, 17 November 1976, lot 143. These were both rebound, and we trace no copies in contemporary bindings on the market. ISTC lists only seven copies in North America: Brown; LoC; La Casa del Libro; Mrs. Alexander P. Rosenberg, New York; The Morgan Library; Scheide Library, Princeton; the Huntington Library; and Bridwell Library, SMU.

References: Goff C849; BMC I, 58; BSB-Ink C-497; GW 7418; H 5629. See VL V 189-91 at 189-90, and R. H. and M. A. Rouse, “The Verbal Concordance to the Scriptures,” Archivum Fratrum Praedicatorum, 44 (1974), 5-30, at 19-20 and 25; also Kaeppeli I 276-83 no. 755, where it is ascribed to Conradus.

Price: $40,000.00