[BIBLE]. Biblia cum concordantiis veteris et novi testamenti et sacrorum canonum.

Lyon, Jacques Sacon for Anton Koberger, 1516.


Large folio. ff. (xiv) CCXLV (iii) CCXLIX (xxvi), lacking final blank, aa8 bb6 a-z8 A-Q8 R6 AA-BB8 CC10 (-CC10). Gothic letter, double or triple column. Handsome woodcut t-p designed by Dürer’s pupil, Hans Springinklee, with (above) putti holding Habsburg arms, (centre) St Jerome, St Augustin and John the Baptist; 3 full-page and 123 smaller text woodcuts with biblical scenes; 5 pages of diagrams in red on the Gospel ‘canons’; large woodcut printer’s device to verso of R5; title and a few section titles in red, decorated initials. T-p, aa8 and last strengthened at gutter, fore-edge of first and last gatherings a little softened or frayed, light yellowing, the odd ink splash, small tear to upper blank margin of g7, repair touching text and one small woodcut to i2 without loss, small paper flaw to upper outer blank corner of x2, repair to upper margin of M8 without loss. A very good copy, on thick paper, in contemporary quarter calf over wooden boards, two clasps, C18 rear ep, double cross-hatched in blind, raised bands, upper joint repaired, later clasps. C19 bookplates of Louis Kossuth Comstock and Gilbert R. Redgrave, and C20 bibliographical note to front pastedown, extensive contemporary or near contemporary Latin annotations.

A very good, interesting copy of this lavishly illustrated bible, in handsome contemporary binding and with profuse C16 annotations. It was produced by the Piedmontese Jacques Sacon (d.1528/30), printer in Lyon since 1498, at the expense of the German Anton II Koberger. Overall, Koberger commissioned to Sacon 28 editions of mainly theological works. The original handsome t-p woodcut was made by Dürer’s pupil, Hans Springinklee (c.1490-1540), hired by Koberger in 1516. The large woodcuts with the six days of the Creation (a design reprised from C15 Venetian bibles) and the nativity, and the 123 smaller biblical scenes, were produced by local artists. First printed in 1512, this third edition, with revisions by Alberto Castellano and the addition of sidenotes and concordances, was edited by Johannes de Gradibus, a Milanese jurist, canonist and theologian; it was on the 1521 edition that Luther based his German translation of the Vulgate (Chalvin, ‘Jacques Sacon’, 43). The contemporary annotator, probably a German friar, was a learned theologian and a serious student of the Scriptures, adding short explanations to passages or words. He also wrote a long paragraph the death of the Carthusian Martyrs from the London Charterhouse, imprisoned and executed by Henry VIII in 1535-37. He added four references to Lutheranism, in relation to Old Testament passages. In 1 Kings (1 Samuel), he identified Lutherans with Jonathan, who eats the honey in the woods, whereas his father Saul had made all his soldiers take an oath against eating before the end of the battle. In Judith (considered apocryphal by Protestants), he labelled ‘against Lutherans’ the approval of fasting (not viewed by them as compulsory at Lent, like other forms of penitence), undertaken by the Israelites to pray God to protect them against the attack of the Assyrians. (Another reference to fasting was highlighted in Esther.) The annotator also noted, on the margins of the festivities for Judith’s victory, the words ‘against Lutherans on holy festivities’, which they had reduced in number. He wrote down numerous marginalia quoting from Gregorius Magnus, Chrysostom, St Jerome (also on the evils of wine drinking), Plato, Seneca, Socrates and Theophrastus (on their behaviour towards their wives), Polydore Virgil (from his ‘De invenctoribus rerum’), Origen, Cyprian, St Ambrose, Bede, Denis the Carthusian and Haymo/Pseudo-Primasius (a commentary to the Epistles to the Jews). He was familiar with Greek as he traced the etymology of ‘apocryphus’, which he wrote in Greek letters. In Genesis, he glossed God’s gift of language (‘vernaculum’) to Adam and Eve as ‘Vernaculus is what is born in our own homelands’. He wrote a note on Arcturus and Orion, drawing astronomical information from Placus’s ‘Lexicon Biblicon’ (1543), as well as information on plants and illnesses (e.g., cholera) mentioned in the text.

No copies recorded in the US. Baudrier XII, S.339; BM STC Fr., p.53; Panzer, Annales, 293. M. Chalvin, ‘Jacques Sacon, imprimeur-libraire du XVIe siècle (1497-1529)’, Histoire (2011).