A Very Fine Copy in Strapwork Morocco by a Royal Binder Covering the Most Extensive Edition of a Sumptuously Illustrated Bible


(Nuremberg: J. A. Endter, 1768). 454 x 282 mm. (17 7/8 x 11 1/4"). 18 p.l., 11, [51] leaves, 3-8 pp., [4], 9-190, [4], 191-740, [6], 512, 480 pp., [8] leaves. Three parts bound in one volume.

SUPERB 1822 CALF, GILT AND INLAID IN THE ENTRELAC STYLE, BY J. H. STAFFEHL, covers with inlaid frame of green calf with gilt grapevine roll, center panel with intricate interlacing strapwork of inlaid green calf, five of the compartments formed by the straps with gilt sprays of wheat emerging from urns, raised bands, spine with inlaid green calf dividers, compartments gilt with large lozenge centerpiece of floral tools, floral vine cornerpieces, green calf labels, wide turn-ins framed by three decorative gilt rolls, inlaid green cornerpieces with sunburst, endpapers marbled to resemble tree calf, reinforced hinges, all edges gilt (older repairs to ends of joints). With 47 engraved plates, comprised of: copperplate portraits of Luther and 11 Electors; 11 section titles, each with 11 vignettes; nine full-page engraved depictions of Moses, Prophets, and the Evangelists; seven full-page plates engraved with 12 vignettes, six double-page maps, and two double-page engravings. Printed exhibition(?) card in old glassine envelope laid in at front, the text reading: "Meisterstück / des Hof-Buchbindermeisters / J. H. STAFFEHL zu Hannover. Angefertigt 1822" ["Masterpiece / of the court bookbinder / J. H. STAFFEHL in Hanover. Made in 1822"]. Jahn, p. 91. ◆A little rubbing to joints and extremities, tiny loss of gilt to centerpiece on upper cover, rear hinge with minor evidence of insect activity, the text with trivial imperfections, but A FINE COPY OF A STRIKINGLY BEAUTIFUL BOOK, the binding lustrous and solid, the contents clean and fresh.

In a splendid binding by a royal bookbinder, this is as good a copy as one could hope to find of the last and most extensive edition of the very popular and sumptuous illustrated German Bible, known as the “Kurfürstenbibel” because of its portraits of the Electoral Princes (called "Kurfürsten" in German). It was originally prepared for Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha and Altenburg, as a celebration of Martin Luther's Bible translation, and all editions were printed by the Endters, one of the prominent German printing families, the first version appearing in 1641. In addition to portraits of Luther and the Protestant princes of Germany, it contains the maps, views, and illustrated half-titles by Jacob van Sandrart and others, first used in the edition of 1686, but the illustrated half-titles are here all signed by Johann Cristopher Claussner instead of the appropriate artists, and the views and other plates are lacking the signatures found in earlier states. The present copy contains four maps and views not found in other copies of this edition, showing the eastern Mediterranean and Palestine as well as both a map and a view of Jerusalem. Possibly from a 19th or early 20th century bindings or crafts exhibition, the card laid in here describes our binding as a "masterpiece," and that is in no way hyperbole. Remarkably elegant for such a massive tome, the delicately interlacing strapwork and the tasteful gilt tooling are expertly done, harking back to the lovely entrelac style of the 16th century. The binding is a memorable achievement, made all the more noteworthy in that it must have been executed relatively early in our binder's career. "Mittheilungen des Gewerbevereins für das Königreich Hannover: 1848/51" ["Communications from the trade association for the Kingdom of Hanover: 1848-51"] and both the 1856 and 1861"Hof- und Staatshandbuch für das Königreich Hannover" ["Court and State Manual for the Kingdom of Hanover"] list Staffehl as the court bookbinder. If he was still an active binder more than three decades after our binding was done, he can scarcely have been out of his twenties when he created this work. It would be an impressive achievement at any age, but is exceptional for one apparently so young. Such a large and impressively bound Bible would have been intended for use in a church--or perhaps a royal chapel, given Staffehl's association with the court.

Price: $25,000.00