The Olschki Copy of a 16th Century Bible Profusely Illustrated by Salomon, Holbein, and Others


(Venetiis [Venice]: Hieronymus Polus, 1587). 213 x 146 mm. (8 3/8 x 5 5/8"). 12 p.l., 1126 pp.

ESPECIALLY PLEASING CONTEMPORARY CALF, covers with gilt French fillet frame and oval wreath of olive branches, the center of the wreath in the shape of a cross, flat spine ruled in gilt, red morocco label. Title page with elaborate wood-engraved frame, text profusely illustrated WITH 600 WOOD ENGRAVINGS depicting scenes from scripture, after Holbein, Bernard Salomon (le Petit Bernard), and others (a handful of these a bit indistinct). Front pastedown with ex-libris of Leonis S. Olschki. Adams B-1093; STC Italian 93. Not in Darlow & Moule. ◆A little wear to joints and extremities, spine a bit crackled, separation at hinges (but no looseness), occasional minor browning or foxing, otherwise in remarkably fine condition, the text clean and crisp, and in a still-lustrous, entirely solid, unsophisticated original binding.

This is a very well-preserved, handsomely bound, and lavishly illustrated edition, with distinguished provenance, of the Louvain Bible, first printed in Venice in 1578. Our edition contains 600 wood engravings illustrating the text, ranging from portraits of prophets, saints, and evangelists to dramatic scenes from the histories of the Old Testament and the life of Christ, and ending with an imaginative Apocalypse cycle. Many of these are the work of Lyonnaise artist Bernard Salomon (1506-61), known by the sobriquet "Le Petit Bernard" for his small engravings rich with detail. Others are based on the biblical woodcuts of Hans Holbein. The binding here is likely French; the flat spine with just one large gilt-framed panel and the olive branch decoration on the covers is characteristic of late 16th century and early 17th century French work. The exceptional condition here is typical of books from the collection of Leo Samuel Olschki (1861-1940), scion of a family of Prussian Jewish printers, whose interest in printing history led to his becoming a celebrated antiquarian bookseller, author, founder of the journal "The Bibliophile," and publisher of works in the humanities.

Price: $6,800.00