IORNANDES [JORDANES]. De Getarum, sive Gothorum origine et rebus gestis. [with]

VULCANIUS, Bonaventura. De Literis et lingua Getarum.

Leiden, ex Officina Plantiniana, 1597.


FIRST EDITIONS. 8vo. 2 works in 1, pp. (xvi) 264, 191 (i); (xvi) 109 (i). Italic letter, occasional Greek, Roman and various Gothic fonts, including Runes. Woodcut printer’s device to t-ps, decorated initials. First t-p a little dusty, occasional light yellowing, a few ll. slightly browned, couple of lower outer blank corners torn, affecting one word on A7. Good copies in contemporary Dutch vellum, yapp edges, ms. ‘128’ and scattered ink spots to upper cover, small leather flaw to lower, spine dust-soiled. Ms. ‘Bibl.[iotheca] Lovan.[iensis] [crossed out] 1781 n.3729’ to ffep verso.

Good copies of the first editions of these influential works on the ancient history and languages of northern Europe. A ground-breaking text, ‘De literis’ is a dissertation on the Gothic language by the Flemish Bonaventura Vulcanius (1538-1614), professor of Greek and Latin at Leiden; it features the first Gothic text ever printed, from a 6th-century ms. translation of the Bible named ‘Codex Argenteus’. The work comprises two anonymous essays on Gothic letters and their pronunciation, samples of four Gothic alphabets and typefaces (erroneously including Runes and Tironian notation), Gothic translations of Latin prayers, Gothic epigraphy, a list of Gothic words spoken in Crimea (drawn from Busbecq), and unrelated samples (in Roman letter) of obscure languages like Anglo-Saxon, Persian (noting affinities with German), Basque, Frisian, Welsh, Icelandic, Romani and Rotwelsch (a secret language spoken by marginalised communities in Southern Germany). ‘“De literis” [is] a remarkable collage of documentary language materials. […] Today it is hard to imagine how difficult it was to acquire text specimens or dictionaries of “exotic” languages. […] The publication of Persian, Basque and Rotwelsch language samples and text specimens of the Gothic “Codex Argenteus” (the name of which appears here for the first time) was previously unheard of in the Netherlands’ (van Hal, 397-8). ‘De literis’ was intended as a supplement to the edition of major texts on the ancient history of the Goths, which he produced in the same year. The most important work in the collection is ‘De Getarum sive Gothorum origine’, written in 550AD by Jordanes, a Byzantine state officer of Gothic descent. It is a dense summary of a now lost history of the Goths by the Roman historian Cassiodorus (5th cent.), spanning over 2000 years. It comprises detailed accounts of northern European geography and ethnography, semi-historical and historical Gothic migrations to Greece, Asia Minor and Egypt, and their defeat by the Byzantine Belisarius. Another work by Jordanes, on the succession of Gothic kingdoms, is also present, as well as important chronicles of the Goths, Vandals, Suedes and Visigoths by the historians Procopius, Isidore of Seville, Marineus Siculus and Ricobaldi.

This copy was in the Library of the University of Louvain, suppressed in 1796. The ms. casemark is in the hand of the last librarian, Vandevelde (‘Bulletins’, 285).

I: Netherlandish Books 17124; Blouw, Typ. Batava, 2694; Brunet II, 731.

II: Netherlandish Books 26245; Brouw, Typ. Batava, 5400; Graesse VI, 404.

Bulletins de l’Académie royale des sciences, des lettres, 17 (1850); T. van Hal, ‘Vulcanius and His Network of Language Lovers’, in Bonaventura Vulcanius, ed. H. Cazes (Leiden, 2010), 387-401.


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LAS CASAS, Cristobal de.


Vocabulario de las dos lenguas toscana y castellana.

Venice, appresso i Guerra fratelli, 1604.


8vo. pp. (lviii) 477 [i.e., 491] (iii). Roman letter, some Italic, double column. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p, decorated initials and ornaments. T-p a little spotted, light yellowing, faint water stain from upper outer corner of some ll., another to lower outer corner at end, couple or so gatherings somewhat browned (poorly dried). A good copy in contemporary vellum, early ms. drawing of half quadrant and ink splash to upper and few pen trials to lower cover, small loss of vellum to couple of corners. C17 ms. ‘Vocabularius’, crossed-out ex-libris and ms. ‘Comprai usado l’anno 1766 p.s.di 6.8’ to ffep, contemporary ms. ‘Ill. (?) felipo lapo’ and ‘in Parige à 30 giugno 1609 (?) soldi 9 (?)’.

A very scarce Venetian edition of this important Italian-Spanish dictionary, with fascinating expunctions by an early prudish owner. The work of the obscure Sevillian lexicographer Cristóbal de las Casas (d.1576), it was originally published in 1570—the first such bilingual dictionary, praised in the preface by the famous author Fernando de Herrera. ‘It was the first dictionary worthy of this name by which the Spanish language was compared to any other Romance language, excluding the polyglot dictionary of Ambrosio Calepino’ (J.M. Lope Blanch). Las Casas probably learnt Tuscan during a stay in Italy, and his dictionary filled a major gap in the book market, the last Spanish (to Latin) dictionary having been published by Nebrija in 1495. Las Casas provided a way for Spanish-speaking readers to appreciate the wealth of the Tuscan language and literature, and to make it easier for Italians to learn Spanish, for diplomacy, trade, etc. The two parts, Tuscan-Castilian (15,000 lemmas) and Castilian-Tuscan (10,000 lemmas), were reliant on Calepino and Nebrija, but also featured numerous terms which had never been previously listed in a dictionary: e.g., desenquedernar / squadernare, that is, to have a book disbound and broken up into its constituent gatherings or sheets; salcizzo / salchichon (sausage); Berlingozzo / tortilla de huevos (a kind of flatbread); and turbante / turbante tocado turco (Turkish turban). The contemporary (most likely Italian) annotator of this copy carefully covered in ink, in the Tuscan-Spanish section, everyday words he deemed vulgar or inappropriate, concerning, that is, prostitutes (bagascia, bagascione, puttana), sexual intercourse (bugiarare, sodomitico, coito, fottere, sperma) and related body parts (coda, coglioni, cotale, fica, fregna), physiological functions (cacare), related body parts (chiappe, culo) and premises (cesso, cacatoio), and circumcision (circuncidado, preputio). He also corrected two inoffensive Italian translations.

Newberry, UVM and UCSD copies recorded in the US.

USTC 4036728; Iberian Books 24165. Not in Palau. I. Acero, ‘Incorporaciones léxicas en el Vocabulario de las dos lenguas toscana y castellana de Cristóbal de las Casas’, Anuario de Estudios Filológicos 14 (1991), 7-14.


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MELLEMA, Edouard Leon.


Den Schat der Duytscher Tale met de verklaringe in Fransois.

Rotterdam, J. Van Waesberghe, 1618.


FIRST EDITION thus. 4to in 8s. 316 unnumbered ll. Roman letter, with Italic, double column. Woodcut architectural t-p with allegorical scenes, decorated initials and ornaments. Outer edge of t-p and first leaf a little frayed, light age yellowing, one marginal paper flaw. A very good copy in contemporary vellum, yapp edges, edges speckled red, lower vellum cover removed (edges of paper board worn), a bit dusty, scattered ink splashes, faded early ms. ‘A Dictionarie’ to upper cover, C18 bibliographical ms. notes to pastedown, ffep and verso of blank facing t-p, ms. ‘Joseph Price 16 May 1800’ to t-p verso.

A very good copy of the scarce first edition in Dutch of this popular Dutch-French dictionary. It was edited by the Frisian Edouard Leon Mellema (c.1552-22), schoolmaster in Haarlem and author of ‘Arithmetica’ (1586). This edition (with Dutch being here interchangeable with Flemish) is in fact a posthumous reissue, with Dutch t-p and preliminaries, of the first 1587 French edition printed by Jan van Waesberghe’s father in Antwerp as ‘Dictionnaire ou Promptuaire Flamand-Français’. The French-Flemish (or French-Dutch) volumes were published separately. The work comprises French translations spanning basic adjectives, verbs and pronouns, and phrases, Netherlandish and French place names, kinds of oxen, measurements, and thousands of words useful for everyday life. ‘His dictionary became a reference work and went through 11 editions in the C17. […] here, the word “woordn-boec” [dictionary] appeared in a dictionary for the first time’ (Sterkenburg, 38). It provided the basis of Hexham’s Dutch-English dictionary of 1648.

No copies recorded in the US.

Lindemann, Französischen Wörterbücher bis 1600, p.689. Not in Pettegree & Walsby, Netherlandish Books or Graesse. P.G. van Sterkenburg, Van woordenlijst tot woordenboek (Leiden, 1984).


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Diccionario muy copioso de la lengua Española y Françesa.

Bruxelles, chez Rutger Velpius, 1606.


8vo. 2 parts in 1, 414, 306 unnumbered pp. Roman letter, with Italic, double column. Decorated initials and ornaments. Slight marginal foxing, upper edge dusty, light age browning to a few gatherings, intermittent light water stain to lower blank margin of second part. A good, clean copy in contemporary Dutch vellum, yapp edges, a.e.r., ms. binder’s instructions (‘E. 8vo.VI.14. F[lorins?] 1’) to front pastedown, ms. ex-libris ‘Sebastiani Egberti (?) @ 1607 Martij 10’ (in red), ‘Joan Spillieurs 1649: 10 feb. Geerfft van’ and ‘Johannes Carlier 1638 2/25’ to ffep.  

A good, clean copy of the second edition of the first French-Spanish bilingual dictionary, originally published in Paris in 1604. The French Jean Pallet (or Palet, fl. late C16/early C17) was physician to Henry IV of France and translator from the Italian of ‘Discours de la beauté des Dames (1568). An influential lexicographer, he published his bilingual dictionary only a few years after Hornkens’s French-Spanish-Latin of 1599. Even more than Hornkens, Pallet was catering to the ‘Belgian’ aristocracy, generals and officers who, upon the Infanta’s marriage with Archduke Albert in 1596 and the greater administrative autonomy over the Low Countries granted to them by her father Philip II, found themselves having to deal with a Spanish-speaking court (‘Wörterbücher’, 2977). The printer Velpius was granted a privilege by the Archduke. Whilst the French-Spanish part was mostly based on Hornkens, the Spanish-French section drew on Antonio de Nebrija’s Spanish-Latin dictionary (1492-5) and Cristóval de Las Casas’s popular Tuscan-Castilian dictionary of 1570.

In 1607, this copy was in the library of the Flemish physician Sebastianus Egbertus, professor of anatomy at Amsterdam and author of a commentary on Dodoens’s ‘Herbal’ (1640); he was deemed ‘a man of great learning’ by the anatomist Nicolaes Tulp, famously portrayed by Rembrandt. In 1638, it was in the possession of the lawyer Johannes Carlier (c.1612-48), owner of a substantial library of which the inventory unusually specifies the colour of the shelves and their arrangement in the room (de Jong, p.151); in 1649, the copy was inherited by Johannes Spillieurs, probably the same registered as a student at Leiden.

Four copies recorded in the US.

Iberian Books 51730; USTC 5016579; Palau 72982.

N. Tulp, Drie boecken der medicijnsche aenmerkingen (Amsterdam, 1650), p.120; J. de Jong, Art of Home in the Netherlands, 1500-1800 (2001); Wörterbücher (Berlin, 1991).


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JOHN, Saint, DIEU, Lodewijk, ed


JOHN, Saint, DIEU, Lodewijk, ed. Gelyānā dhe-Yūḥannān Ḳaddīshā. Id est, Apocalypsis Sancti Johannis.

Leiden, ex typographia Elzeviriana, 1627.


[BIBLE]. Epistolae quatuor…

Leiden, Bonaventurae & Abrahami Elzevir, 1630.


EDITIONES PRINCIPES. Small 4to. 2 parts in 1, pp. (xx) 211 (i); (x) 66. Syriac, Hebrew, Greek and Roman letter, quadruple column. Title with woodcut architectural border to first, titles in red and black, printer’s device to verso of last leaf of first, woodcut initials and ornaments. Light water stain from upper gutter towards margin, another to lower outer corner in part II, extending to text on last five ll. Very good copies in contemporary vellum, yapp edges, couple of minor scratches to upper board, hinges starting, upper partly detached, one final ep leaf loose, small ms. ‘A/90’ and C18 ms. ‘Ja[me]s Robertson Ellis(?)’ to final eps.

Very good copies of these beautifully printed, polyglot ‘editiones principes’, with Syrian, Greek, Hebrew and Roman types. ‘The Elzevirs had 8 special journeymen and 5 correctors working only for the oriental press. They were all inscribed as students of the university. […] Between 1626 and 1642 they produced 13 well-printed books, most of which were published for the students of Hebrew and oriental languages at the university’ (‘Leiden’, 38-9). The Hebrew types were the same used at the Plantin press under Franciscus Raphelengius, former professor of Hebrew at Leiden; the Syriac came from the matrices used at the press of the great orientalist Thomas Erpenius, which were bought by Isaac Elzevir, together with the Arabic, Ethiopic and Samaritan types (McKitterick, ‘History’, 184). The Apocalypse in Syriac is a ‘very careful, conscientious and scholarly’ edition, still in use (Hall, ‘Syriac Apocalypse’, 134). It was edited by the Dutch minister and orientalist Lodewijk (or Louis) de Dieu (1590-1642) from a ms. bequeathed by Joseph Scaliger to the library of the University of Leiden. The ‘Apocalypse’ did not form part of the Syriac New Testament in any of its versions (Peshitto, Harklensian, Jerusalem or Curetonian). This edition features, in four columns, the Syriac text, the text transliterated into Hebrew (with vocalization), a Latin translation of the Syriac and the customary Greek text (Hall, ‘Syriac Apocalypse’, 134-35). Often bound with ‘Apocalypsis’, ‘Epistolae quatuor’ was produced, with the same four column structure, from a ms. preserved at the Bodleian. It includes the Syriac text of Peter’s second, John’s second and third, and Jude’s epistles—their first appearance in print, as they were not present in the Syriac canon or the European editions of the Syriac New Testament. The editor, Edward Pococke (1604-91), was a theologian and the first professor of Arabic at Oxford. He dedicated the edition to the Dutch classicist Gerard Vossius, whilst Lodewijk Dieu oversaw the practicalities of its publication.

This copy of ‘Epistolae’ bears the reprinted preliminary A2-A3 in the correct position. Due to an initial printing flaw affecting the penultimate line of the dedication, they had to be redone, and are sometimes bound at rear (Willems 334).

I: Willems 289; Copinger 1310; Darlow & Moule 1438.

II: Willems 334; Copinger 3653; Darlow & Moule 1440.

J.H. Rubin, Perishing Heathens (Lincoln, 2017); I.H. Hall, ‘The Syriac Apocalypse’, Journal of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis 2 (1882), 134-51; D. McKitterick, A History of Cambridge University Press: Volume 1 (Cambridge, 1992); ‘Leiden’, in Hebrew Typography in the Northern Netherlands, ed. L. Fuks et al. (Leiden, 1984).


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POLLUX, Julius


POLLUX, Julius. Pollucis vocabularii Index in latinum traslatus. [Iouliou Polydeukous Onomastikon. Iulii Pollucis vocabularium.]

Venice, Aldus, 1502.


EDITIO PRINCEPS. Folio. ff. (ix) 102 (i), unnumbered, AA⁴ χ⁴ αa-νn⁸. Greek letter, occasional Roman, double column. T-p and verso of last a bit dust-soiled, traces of paper label to upper blank margin of t-p, first few ll. a little finger-soiled in margins, two tiny marginal worm holes, light water stain to upper edge of first and last gathering, small repair to half-title (αi) not affecting text, occasional very slight marginal spotting, the odd mark. A very good copy, on high-quality thick paper, in C17 sprinkled goatskin, expertly rebacked, marbled endpapers, outer border with roll of palmettes in blind, inner gilt with same and gilt large fleurons to outer and inner corners, occasional very minor loss, small creases or tiny worm holes to boards, lacking feps. Contemporary C16 ex-libris in Greek letters ‘Bartolomaios Skiasos’ to t-p (with Italian version ‘Bartolomeo Squassi’ rubbed) to t-p and αi, C17 and C18 ex-libris and C19 library stamp (rubbed) to t-p, intermittent contemporary annotations.

Handsome copy of the ‘editio princeps’ of this important Greek dictionary, from the library of a Milanese humanist who funded, in the 1490s, the printing of Greek incunabula. Bartolomeo Squassi (or Squasso, fl. 1490-1510) was secretary of Lodovico Sforza, then regent for Gian Galeazzo, Duke of Milan. With the ducal secretaries Vincenzo Aliprandi and Bartolomeo Rozzone, he contributed to the printing expenses of the ‘editio princeps’ of Isocrates (Milan, 1493) and the Latin ‘Erotemata’ (Milan, 1494), prepared by the major Greek scholar Demetrios Chalcondylas. In the colophon of the ‘Isocrates’, as in the ex-libris in this copy, he appeared as Βαρθολομαῖος Σκὺασοϛ. In 1494, Gian Galeazzo granted Squassi, Calchondylas, Aliprandi and Rozzone a ten-year privilege to print Greek and Latin works, which suggests that, like Calchondylas, ‘they too had acquired an excellent reputation as scholars of the classics’ (Calvi, ‘Castello’, 75).

The ‘Onomastikon’, composed by the Greek grammarian Ioulios Polydeukes (Julius Pollux) in the second century AD, is a lexicon of phrases and synonyms in Attic dialect. Divided by subject, it includes invaluable information on ancient customs, mythology, and everyday life, touching on themes as varied as oracles, poetry, horses, trees, and navigation. This edition is prefaced by two indexes, in Latin and Greek. Squassi used it for practical purposes as he annotated sections on specific subjects including gods’ names, temples, the eyes, body parts, the arts, musical instruments, dance, singing, games and theatre. He wrote on the margins the names of the ancient authors thereby mentioned (especially Aristophanes, Isocrates, Herodotus, Homer, Xenophon and Plato) as well as interesting nouns or verbs, sometimes in different grammatical forms. A handsome Greek Aldine of bibliographical interest.  

Renouard 49:4; Ahmanson-Murphy, 54; Brunet IV, 785; BM STC It., p.531. F. Calvi, Il Castello Visconteo-Sforzesco nella storia di Milano (1894).


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[MÜNSTER, Sebastian.]


Chaldaica Grammatica. [with] Dictionarium Chaldaicum.

Basel, J. Frobenius, 1527.


FIRST EDITIONS. Small 4to, 2 works in 1, pp. (viii) 212 (iv); (viii) 434 (ii). Roman and Hebrew letter, little Ge’ez. Woodcut architectural t-p with putti and grotesques to second, woodcut printer’s device to verso of last of both, decorated initials (a handful hand-coloured). Slight browning, light water stain to upper and outer blank margin of first and last few gatherings, I: fore-edge a bit chewed, small worm hole to upper outer blank corner of first few gatherings. Good copies in contemporary Swiss or German pigskin over bevelled wooden boards, rebacked, remains of spine replaced, brass clasps, double blind ruled to a panel design, outer border with blind roll with Jacob’s ladder, Abraham and Isaac, and Christ trampling the Devil, second border blind-stamped rosettes and ivy leaves, centre panel with blind rolls with female figures of Lucretia, Prudencia. Rubbed, minor loss to lower outer corners. C16 faded Italian autograph and Hebrew inscriptions to front pastedown, small armorial stamp and inscription mostly erased from t-p, occasional C16 Latin or Aramaic annotations.

An Augsburg binding from the workshop of Caspar Horneffer (Haebler, I, 168-168), who signed the figure of Lucretia with C.H. (EBDB r003142). The outer border shows handsomely portrayed scenes of Christ trampling the Devil, Abraham and Isaac, and the unusual subject of Jacob’s ladder.

First editions of the first Aramaic grammar and dictionary by a Christian scholar (with references to Ethiopic). By Sebastian Münster—‘the founder of the field of study of Aramaic in Germany’ (McLean, ‘Cosmographia’, 18)—they were superbly produced by one of the most intellectual early printers, the Swiss Johann Froben (1460-1527). The initials and the handsome woodcut t-p of ‘Dictionarium’ were designed by Hans Holbein the Younger, employed by Froben. Most renowned for his ‘Cosmographia’ (1544), Sebastian Münster (1488-1552) was a cartographer and Hebraist at Basle, being the first Christian scholar to produce an edition of the Hebrew Bible. He conceived his ‘Grammatica’ after learning Aramaic as a language that could shed greater light on Hebrew as well as on the interpretation of biblical texts, like the books of Daniel and Ezra, which had largely survived in Aramaic. He proceeded by making the reader familiar with Aramaic by degrees, highlighting the number of words of Greek origin, Aramaic words in the Scriptures, and comparisons between the ‘lingua Saracenica’, ‘lingua Indiana’ (Ethiopic, in Ge’ez type), Hebrew, Aramaic and Latin. After discussing Aramaic letters, numbers, nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc., it provides a few Targum texts, ‘Jewish translations of the Hebrew Bible into Aramaic […] used […] primarily as a means to teach Aramaic in the Jewish education system’ (van Staalduine-Sulman, ‘Introduction’, 1). The ‘Dictionarium’ was dedicated to St John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, a great promoter of Hebrew studies at Cambridge, later executed by Henry VIII and canonised. It includes words encountered by Münster in the course of his studies, and considered important for the study of this sacred language, from verbs to the word for ‘dates that are still unripe’, with additional explanations. The learned annotator of this ‘Grammatica’ was acquainted with Ethiopic, as he mentioned Johannes Potken’s misidentification of Ethiopian as Chaldean in his ‘Alphabetus’; he also provided the Aramaic transcription of a few Latin words.

I: Panzer, VI, 258, n.654; Steinschneider, Bibl. Hand., 1377; BM STC Ger., p.632; Burmeister, Sebastian Münster, 3.
II: Burmeister, Sebastian Münster, pp. 92-93, n.4.4; Burmeister, Sebastian Münster Bibl., n. 23 Fürst, Bibliotheca Judaica, II:408; BM STC Ger., p.633; BM Hebrew, p.598; Panzer, VI, 258, n.653; Steinschneider, Bibl. Hand., 1385. M. McLean, The Cosmographia of Sebastian Münster (Aldershot, 2007); E. van Staalduine-Sulman, Justifying Christian Aramaism (Leiden, 2017).


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BALMES, Abraham de.


Miqnē Avram: Peculium Abrae. Grammatica Hebraea.

Venice, Daniel Bomberg, 1523.


FIRST EDITION. Small 4to. pp. [315], lacking final blank. Hebrew letter, with Roman, little Assyrian. Decorated initials. Upper outer blank corner of t-p repaired affecting few ll. of the dedicatee’s name on verso, next three ll. a bit oil or ink stained in places, lower outer edge of a 3 a bit chewed, small scattered worm holes and oil staining to final gatherings, former marginal, latter mostly, couple of ll. browned. A good copy in mid-C19 sprinkled sheep, spine gilt, gilt-lettered morocco label, a.e.r., a little loss in places, tiny scattered worm holes at head and foot of spine. Small modern Hebrew stamp to lower blank margin of t-p verso, s 2 and last, late C16 inscription ‘Fr. Alex[ander] Longus Inquisitor Montisregalis concessit isti Die 24 octobris’.

A good copy of the first edition of this important Hebrew grammar for Christian scholars, printed by the most important printer of Hebrew books in Italy. Abraham de Balmes (d.1523) studied at Naples, whence he fled to Venice probably in 1510, when the Jews were expelled from the Spanish territories. In Padua, he was the personal physician of Cardinal Grimani; in Venice, he acquired a solid reputation as a linguist and translator of Hebrew philosophical texts. The Flemish turned-Venetian Daniel Bomberg (1483-1549)—the first printer in Venice and first Christian printer of Hebrew books—employed de Balmes in 1523 as one of his talented editors (Amram, ‘Makers’, 169-70). He asked him to write a Hebrew grammar, published posthumously, in order to facilitate the learning of Hebrew for Christian scholars, encouraging them to undertake the quest for the Hebrew original (not the translation for the Greek) of the New Testament, the discovery of which would ‘make your name immortal’. Balmes’s original approach to Hebrew grammar was imbued with philosophical discussion, including Aristotelian logic, Plato and the Kabbalah, outlined in Chapter 1. Organised into Hebrew sections followed by their literal Latin translation, it discusses the definition of Hebrew grammar, the alphabet and phonetics, and its various elements. The seventh chapter is an early attempt to analyse Hebrew syntax on the basis of logic and use, and the eighth—partly composed and translated by Calos Calonimos—discusses biblical prosody and accents. The partial lack of success was due to its ambivalent character as ‘a preparatory work to the reading of a “ghost” text, a Hebrew New Testament not yet available’ and ‘the experimental revision of the logical premises of the Hebrew grammatical tradition’ (Campanini, ‘Grammatica’, 19).

Friar Alexander Longus is recorded as censor of Hebrew books in 1590, in Monreale, a small bishopric near Asti, in Southern Piedmont (Popper, ‘Censorship’, 135). In 1591 the Holy Office decided that ‘no Christian should in the future be allowed to undertake censorship; Jews should expurgate their own books, and then, if at any time one should be found not properly corrected, its owner should be severely punished’ (Popper, ‘Censorship’, 72-3). In Piedmont, Inquisitors continued to check recent publications and personal libraries until at least 1593. Being a work on grammar, this copy was ‘allowed’ (‘concessit’).

Steinschneider, Cat. librorum hebraeorum, 1576, 6067/1; Steinschneider, Bibliographisches Handbuch, 164.2; Habermann, Bomberg, 76; BM STC It., p.2; Heller, 16-Century Hebrew Book, pp.164-5. D.W. Amram, The Makers of Hebrew Books in Italy (1909); S. Campanini, ‘Peculium Abrae. La grammatica ebraico-latina di Avraham De Balmes’, Annali di Ca’Foscari, 26 (1997), 5-49; W. Popper, The Censorship of Hebrew Books (1899).


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Novum […] Testamentum Syriace. Cum versione Latina.

Köthen, [Fürstliche Druckerei], 1621.


FIRST EDITION thus. 4to. pp. (viii) 843 (i). Large Syriac letter, with Roman, little Italic, Greek or Hebrew. Printer’s woodcut device to t-p, woodcut headpieces. T-p a little dusty, general toning, ink burn affecting a letter to Q1 , another to lower blank margin of 4Z 1 . A good, clean copy in C19 half calf over marbled boards, spine gilt and tooled in blind, repaired at foot, gilt-lettered, all edges blue, corners repaired. Early annotations in Greek, Latin or Syriac to pastedowns and occasionally to text, C19 autograph ‘Henry D.A. Major’ to rear pastedown,ex-libris in Greek letters dated 27 Oct 1844 and bookplate ‘ex bibliotheca Aulae Hrypensis Oxonii’ (Ripon Hall) to front pastedown.

A good, clean copy, in large Syriac typeface, of the first edition of the New Testament prepared by the major orientalist Martin Trost. This is also one of the earliest works produced by Prince Ludwig of Anhalt’s printing press in Köthen. These were part of a series of textbooks for the study of languages produced for a project led by Wolfgang Rietke, a Lutheran education reformer, with the Prince’s support (Ball, ‘Alles’, 391). Rietke also established a school in Köthen, where he resided until 1622. It was whilst working there after a theology degree at Wittenberg, that Trost (1588-1636) published his Syriac New Testament, with the Gospels and Pauline letters. His sources were mainly the editio princeps of the Syriac text (or ‘peshitta’), first published by Alfred Widmanstadt in Vienna in 1555, followed by Tremelli’s 1569 edition, the Antwerp Polyglot (1569-72), Plantin’s 1574 edition and Boderianus’s 1584 polyglot (Darlow & Moule 8958). On each page is a Syriac section with, below, its Latin translation based on Tremelli’s. Trost’s was ‘the first to set the useful example, followed by many […], of giving a complete table of the variations of text, which by this time had become somewhat numerous’ (‘Printed Editions’, 283-84). The early student annotators of this copy, also learned in Hebrew and Greek, often glossed Syriac words with their Latin counterparts—e.g., ‘transgressors’ of the divine law—and even corrected the Latin, e.g., substituting ‘concupiscat illam’ for the more literal ‘adulterium committat cum ea’. This copy was in the library of Henry Dewsbury Alves Major (1871-1961), an Anglican clergyman, born in England, who lived most of his life in New Zealand. As a student at Oxford, he focused on the Synoptic Gospels and their authorship. He was rector of Ripon Hall school for the clergy.

Darlow & Moule 8958; Bircher, Kat. der Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft, 64. Not in BL STC Ger. C17. ‘The Printed Editions of the Syriac New Testament’, Church Quarterly Review 52 (1888), 257-94; G. Ball, ‘Alles zu Nutzen’, in The Reach of the Republic of Letters, ed. A. van Dixhoorn et al. (Leiden, 2008), I, 389-422.


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A Restitution of Decayed Intelligence.

Antwerp, by Robert Bruney. And to be sold at London by Iohn Norton and Iohn Bill, 1605.


FIRST EDITION. 4to., pp. [xxiv], 338, [xiv]. +,  ++, +++, A-2X. Roman letter, some Italic and Gothic. Small engraving on t-p in red and black, 11 engraved plates in text, woodcut initials head and tail-pieces, note concerning the prefatory poems in C19th hand on fly, index of the engravings, in the same hand, on following page, several C19th sale notices concerning this edition tipped in., bookplate of James Elwin Millward on pastedown. Title a little soiled and dusty with ink spot on engraving, verso of last dusty, occasional marginal stain or thumb mark, very minor marginal spotting in places. A very good copy, with good margins and good impressions of the plates, in C19th diced Russia, covers bordered with a double blind rule, spine with raised bands, ruled in blind, title and date gilt lettered, a.e.r.

First edition of Richard Verstegan’s (alias Rowland’s 1565-1620) important history of the Saxon invasions, the development of the English language, the formation of its surnames, and general early English lore. Verstegan displays a great knowledge of early English history and of Anglo Saxon, which he had studied at Oxford before leaving on account of his Catholicism. He removed to Antwerp, whence his grandfather originated, and set up a printing press.  There he acted as agent for the transmission of Catholic literature (some of which he printed) and letters to and from England and the rest of Europe. He corresponded with Cardinal Allen and Robert Parsons and for a time was in their pay, he was a very well connected figure in the recusant world. “The Restitution was first published in 1605, but it continued to be reprinted long after Verstegan’s death, and it’s probably the book for which he is best known in England. It is very straightforward work, with the simple object of demonstrating the descent of the English from the Germanic peoples of northern Europe. This was not as foregone a conclusion as one might think today and Verstegan presented the book with all the trappings of authority he could muster.”

The present work contains, amongst other exotica, the first account of the Pied Piper of Hamlyn, and a description of werewolves; “the werewolves are certayne sorcerers, who having annoynted their bodies with an oyntment which they make by the instinct of the devil, and putting on a certayne inchaunted girdle, doe not openly unto to the view of others, but to their owne thinking have both shape and nature of wolves so long as they weare the said girdle.  And they do dispose of themselves as very wolves, in worrying and killing, and most of humane creatures”. Verstegan was one of the first generation of Anglo Saxon scholars, the work contains one of the earliest published Anglo Saxon word lists, predating Somner. It is dedicated to King James I whom Verstegan describes as “descended of the chiefest bloud Royall of our antient English Saxon kings”; followed by an epistle to the English nation and some 10 verses including one by Thomas Shelton, translator of Don Quixote, also a most useful table of contents. Verstegan begins his work by describing the origins of the English, that they were descended from Saxons whom he states are from Germany. However he says that the Welsh, Cornish, Irish and Scots retain their ancient origins and are not of Saxon descent, indeed they refer to the English in their own language as “Sasons, or Saxsonach”. Verstegan deals with every aspect of England’s history including stating in chapter 4 that England was once joined to France before the “flood of Noah”. He ends his work with a final chapter on the origins and purpose of “tithes of honour, dignities and offices”, and intriguingly the significance of “our English names of disgrace or contempt”.  A very interesting gathering of anecdote and history, illustrated at key points with very detailed and clear engravings.

ESTC S116255. STC 21361. Gillow V p.556.  Lowndes and Allison & Rogers have 1605 edn.


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