[Augsburg], Anton Sorg, 3 September 1477.


FIRST EDITION. Folio, 368 unsigned leaves (of 370, lacking the title leaf and the blank. The title consists of five lines with no other decorative printing and it appears on the verso of the initial leave, whereas the recto is blank). Roman letter. Large woodcut Maiblumen initial opening the text (Prologus), woodcut outline initials, partly rubricated. The register is here bound at the end, other copies in public libraries have it at the beginning. Some light waterstaining on a few initial and final leaves; repaired small tears at foot of first leave of the prologue, towards gutter, and at last 5 leaves, a few leaves with ink stains in lower margin. Contemporary blindstamped calf over wooden boards. Lacking clasps, spine somewhat rubbed, headcap chipped. Notwithstanding the missing title leaf, this is a wide-margined and generally very clean first edition of a famous incunable with long annotations throughout in a neat and fine contemporary hand. Some short marginalia in red ink and other brief early annotations (some of which later and in pencil), and maniculae by other hands. An excellent copy. 

“Wrongly attributed to Berengarius de Landora [Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela (circa 1262-1330)]. The text is also treated as anonymous (Goff) or found under the editor’s name” (ISTC ib00341400). Nevertheless, it has been variously attributed to Berengarius, Godfrey of Vorau, John XXII. This is the first incunabular edition of this compendium of natural and moral philosophy. The brief description on the title page – here lacking – informs the reader that it is “a very fine book, called The Light of the Soul, discussing great topics of moral and natural philosophy”.

The book first includes a short prologue followed by a text divided in 74 headings. In this part of the book, a long annotation is placed besides the discussion of the Christian Holy Ghost, symbolised by the white dove, as corresponding to the Neoplatonic interpretation of the hypostasis as light, which is the essential subtile substance unifying the whole universe; here described as the sweet, loving and edifying divine light, or fire. The reference in the text is to the philosopher Calcidius’ C4th translation into Latin of Plato’s Timaeus. Some shorter marginalia comment heading 14, on the vice of sloth, with reference to the behaviour of turtles and salamanders, which were used as examples for imparting moral teachings. There are other annotations regarding the nature of atoms and Avicebron’s stance on the topic in his book The Origin of Life.

After the initial part, it follows a variant of a work called the Psychomachia, literally “battle of the soul”, written by Prudentius in C4th, which profoundly influenced the allegorical depiction of man’s moral conflict as a battle between personified virtues and vices. This later variant, also called the Etymachia (“battle over the re-establishment of the original truth”), is referred to in the title as the De septem apparitoribus (ca.1332) (“On the seven apparitors”, i.e. “magistrates” or “ecclesiastical court officers”). It is an anonymous preacher’s handbook that appeared both independently and as part of the present encyclopaedic work. This text, in the present book, has scattered annotations and nicely rubricated initials with the names of the seven deadly sins also written in elegant red ink on the margins. Lack of annotations seems to reveal less interest in the following virtues. Pride is described as the greatest of the sins, given that it was pride that sentenced Lucifer to become the Devil. Peacocks and lions are taken as leading examples of pride in nature. The former strive to be admired for the beauty of their tail, the latter take pride in being the ruler of the forest.

After this second part, the book includes an alphabetical index of the topics illustrated in it and, then, it goes on to discuss at length quotations from the Church Doctors and the Professors of the Orthodox Faith, supporting their various arguments with the authority of ancient poets and orators. There are 167 headings of paraphrased quotations listed in alphabetical order. Among the most important thinkers discussed, one can find Aristotle, Theophrastus, the elder Pliny, Ptolemy, Solinus, Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, Isidore, Hugh of St Victor, and Avicenna, to name but a few. This C14th collection of exempla was mainly used for the composition of sermons. An elegant and extensive annotation comment on the section 90, which concerns Faith and its infinite curative and beneficial effects on man, based on Saint Augustine’s authority. To a much minor extent, attention was bestowed by an early reader on a passage on hypocrisy and simulation regarding equity, which becomes a “double iniquity”.

The longest, and most beautifully written, marginal annotation adorns the section devoted to Wisdom, which is the “eye of the heart” and “the greatest possession” above all other material belongings, or intellectual sharpness and achievements, according to Alain de Lille. At the end of this third part is the explicit where one learns about the printer and the circumstances of the printing of this work, followed by the statement of the editor, who was the monk Matthias Farinator (fl.1472-80), and several leaves of table of contents. 

Provenance: In 1646, this copy entered the library of the Society of Jesus in Burckhausen, Bavaria, as stated on the top of the first leaf.

H *10329; GW M16911; BMC II 344; Bod-inc B-159; BSB-Ink L-286; ISTC ib00341400; Goff L-393.


BIBLE, in German


EMSER, Hieronymus (ed.). Das new Testament durch hochgelerten Hieronymum Emser seligen verteutscht.

Freiburg, durch Stephann Graff, 1551.


8vo. Text in Gothic, glosses in Italic. Title-page, ff. 16, 399 (=407), 7; lacking initial blank. Woodcut vignette on title showing Christ at the Column with the Instruments of the Passion relating to his flagellation and the editor Emser kneeling before him, with his coat of arms at his feet. Between Jesus and the theologian, a cartouche with a motto made up of two verses from the Book of Psalms (Nos 118 and 26): “iniquos odio habui, lege[m] aut[em] tua[m] dilexi. Odi[vi] eccla[siam] malignantium, etcu[m] impiis no[n] sedebo”. Several charming woodcuts by Anton Woensam of Worms throughout, at least one for each Gospel, illustrating the Evangelists, and any other epistolary section. Decorated initials in 3 sizes, the largest ones particularly beautiful. Capital spaces with guide-letter, many printed maniculae and side-notes. Printer’s mark on colophon; without the final blanks, a few marginal repairs in first quire, some waterstains at beginning and light spotting at end. Bound in contemporary blind-stamped pigskin over bevelled wooden boards, later metal clasps, remains of leather tabs (upper joint split at head, tail of spine slightly defective, some light stains). A very good, clean copy of this scarce edition.

Born of a prominent family at Ulm, Hieronymus Emser (1478-1527) was the most ardent literary opponent of Luther’s “pestilential heresy”, as Protestantism is defined in the present volume. George “The Bearded”, who was the very Catholic Duke of Saxony, encouraged the churchman and theologian Emser to undertake this German translation of the New Testament in order to counter the fast-spreading success of Luther’s vernacular Bible. The present book is an uncommon edition of Emser’s work, which was first published in 1527 (ABPC/RBH list just one copy in auction records). Emser compares Luther’s so-called “September Testament” (1522), which was his first translation of the Gospels from Greek, with the 1527 edition of the Reformer’s Bible, in order to prove the arbitrariness of his interpretation.

Anton Woensam was a German painter and graphic artist specialising in woodcuts. Forty-five paintings and over 500 woodcuts are attributed to him. He was a contemporary of the great artist Albrecht Dürer. Woesam’s woodcuts depict the four Evangelists (Merlo 1016, 338-341) the suffering Saviour, worshiped by the priest Emser (Merlo 1014, 330), and the authors of the Apostolic Letters.

Provenance: Bavaria, Rottenbuch Abbey (early inscription on title) – Schweinfurt, Otto Schäfer (pencil monogram on rear pastedown with library no.).

VD 16 B 4446.



TAULER, Johannes [with] Meister ECKHART. Sermonen und Historia

Leipzig, Conrad Kachelofen, 17 March 1498.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. Gothic letter in three sizes. Double-column text preceded by the “Registrum” with the list of contents. A total of 290 leaves: 281 (=282) leaves numbered in Roman numerals (“folium”…) on top recto of each leaf, plus 8 preliminary leaves (title-page and register). Long 8-line opening title on upper half of first leaf (“Sermon des gross gelarten in gnade[n] erlauchte[n] Doctoris Johannis Thauleri Predigerr Ordens : weisende auff den neheste[n] waren wegk : yn Geiste czu wa[n]dern durch vberschwebe[n]den syn. vnuoracht vo[n] Geistes ynnige[n] vorwa[n]delt i[n] deutsch ma[n]che[n] Me[n]sche[n] zu selikeit.”), 7-line capital space with a large rubricated initial at the beginning of the first sermon, several 3-line capital spaces with small printed guide-letter. Rubricated throughout with numerous painted Lombard initials added on top of the printed guide-letters in bright red ink. Some occasional offsetting of red ink. Very occasional early marginalia. Bound in contemporary blind-stamped pigskin over wooden boards, spine with three low-raised bands covering thick double sewing supports. Original brass clasp and catch, closing on the left board, both decorated with etched sphinxes. Geometrical frames on covers, lines arranged in a hatched or lozenge design within central panels, and imperial eagles tooled within the four square sections formed at the corners. A nicely rubricated and clean incunabulum, only two small repairs to blank foot margins of title and second leaf. A fine copy.

FIRST EDITION of both text, published in German. This incunabulum contains 80 sermons by Johannes Tauler (c.1300-1361) and 4 sermons by Meister Eckhart (c.1260-1327), these the first works of Eckhart in print.

Eckhart and Tauler were great Christian mystics. The latter preached constant striving for knowledge of the divine, attainable in this world through perfection. Luther praised him and he was even known as a “reformer before the Reformation”. “The sermons are among the finest monuments of the German language, of German fervour of belief, and of profound spiritual feeling. The language is quiet and measured, yet warm, animated, and full of imagery. Tauler is not so speculative as his teacher Eckhart but he is clearer, more practical, and more adapted to the common people … The centre of Tauler’s mysticism is the doctrine of the visio essentiœ Dei, the blessed contemplation or knowledge of the Divine nature. He takes this doctrine from Thomas Aquinas, but goes further than the latter in believing that the Divine knowledge is attainable in this world also by a perfect man, and should be sought by every means. God dwells within each human being. … The way to God is through love; God replies to its highest development by His presence. Tauler gives advice of the most varied character for attaining that height of religion in which the Divine enters into the human subject.” (Catholic Encyclopedia)

“[Eckhart] he has left us in his sermons specimens of the beautiful German prose of which he was a master. In these sermons, really short catacheses, we find frequent citations from such writers as Seneca and Avicenna, as well as from the theologians and Fathers. His discourses are directed to the intellect rather than to the will and are remarkable for their depth of mystical teaching … His favourite themes are the Divine essence, the relations between God and man, the faculties, gifts, and operations of the human soul, the return of all created things to God.” (Catholic Encyclopedia)

The historia, which is Tauler’s biography, includes the anecdote of Tauler’s conversion. However, it is today considered an abridgement of Rulman Merswin’s Meisterbuch of the Basel Gottesfreunde (“Friends of God”), of which Tauler had been a central figure. Falsely thought to be either by Tauler or Nicolaus de Basilea, this “History” has been attributed to Merswin by A. Chiquot (Jean Tauler et le “Meisters-Buoch”, Strasbourg 1922, p. 27-8)

1) Early inscription erased on title. 2) Stamp removed from second leaf – we believe it was of Theodor Heuss (1884-1963, first President of the Federal Republic of Germany), based on subsequent owner’s statement.

 HC *15346; GW M45246; BMC III, 628 (IA. 12345); Goff T-48; BSB-Ink T-62; ISTC it00048000.



MEAD, Richard


MEAD, Richard. Medica Sacra : sive, de morbis insignioribus, qui in Bibliis memorantur, commentarius.

London, Prostant apud Joannem Brindley, 1749.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo, ff. 2 (half title and title), pp. xix (preface), (3, i.e. capitum argumenta), 108 (text). Roman letter, some Italic, sporadic Greek. Head and tail pieces. C19th armorial bookplate of the Earls of Macclesfield’s “South Library” at Shirburn Castle with the motto: “Sapere aude” and press mark in ink (152. D. 15.) on left pastedown, dated 1860; partially covering older library number in pen. “From the Author” written in pen on verso of left endpaper. Printed on thick high quality paper in elegant type; a fresh, clean and crisp copy. Bound in contemporary beige calf over boards, single gilt-tooled along edges with stamped angular gilt fleurons. Gilt spine in seven compartments with suns in splendour tooled on the centre, plus four stars at corners of each section, raised bands. Orange morocco label with gilt lettering. Upper extremity of joints a bit tender, very minor rubbing on edges. A.e.r., a fine copy.

Richard Mead (1673-1754) was an English physician. His work, “A Short Discourse concerning Pestilential Contagion, and the Method to be used to prevent it” (1720), was of historic importance in the understanding of contagious epidemics. He was admitted to the Royal Society, to whose “Transactions” he contributed, writing on the parasitic nature of scabies. In 1714, Mead became the recognised head of his profession; he attended Queen Anne on her deathbed, and in 1727 was appointed physician to George II,  having previously served him in that capacity when he was prince of Wales. In this work, Mead argued that pagan ideas regarding demons had entered Christianity. The book was translated from Latin into English by Thomas Stack in 1755. Mead understood those afflicted by demons in the New Testament to refer simply to those suffering from a variety of illnesses: “That the Daemoniacs, daimonizomenoi, mentioned in the gospels, laboured under a disease really natural, though of an obstinate and difficult kind, appears to me very probable from the accounts given of them.” Contemporaries such as Isaac Newton, Joseph Mede, and Arthur Ashley Sykes shared Mead’s opinion on the subject.

ESTC T55017.

POUILLY, Louis Jean Levesque de

[POUILLY, Louis Jean Levesque de]. The Theory of Agreeable Sensations : in which the Laws observed by Nature in the distribution of Pleasure are investigated ; and the Principles of Natural Theology and Moral Philosophy are established…A dissertation upon Harmony of Stile.

London, Printed for W. Owen, 1774.


8vo, pp. x (half title, title, preface), ff. 3 (contents and errata), pp. 216. Early nineteenth-century ink autograph of “L. Ritchie” on verso of half title. Bound in contemporary calf over boards, restoration to corners. Recently skilfully rebacked. An excellent copy.

An excellent and unsullied copy of this treatise demonstrating that happiness, which, according to the author, is the end of moral theology, can be reached by pursuing virtuous behaviour and the law of nature. The French philosopher Pouilly (1691-1751) illustrates the theory of agreeable sensations, which are those sensations provoked in men by a righteous moral conduct. Only these, according to the author, can lead man towards the fullest happiness and respect of God. He also interpreted and commented on Newton’s Principia.

ESTC T79271

VILCHES, Geronimo de

Vida de la V. Sierva de Dios Sor Úrsula de San Basilio

Cordoba, En la oficina de Diego, y Juan Rodriguez, 1763.


FIRST EDITION. 4to; pp. (xxviii), one leaf with engraved portrait of the nun by Juan Diaz on recto, 674, (vi). Roman letter, sporadic Italic. Attractive large head- and tail-pieces, decorated woodcut initials. Rebound in modern red velvet over wooden boards, as it was originally, preserving its silver corner- and centre-pieces with the Sacred Heart of Jesus etched on, clasps and catches, edges gilt and gauffered. Text clean and crisp. An extremely fresh and lovely copy.

First and only edition of this biography of Ursula of Saint Basil (1733-1761). Ursula was a nun in the Cistercian Monastery of the Immaculate Conception born in Pozoblanco, who died at the age of twenty-eight. The author of the book was Girolamo de Vilches, a monk of the monastery of San Basil in Cordoba, who refers to her devotion as a “multitude of proofs of the most virtuous virtue” and “giving an account of her death show the great sentiment that caused the loss of a religious so exemplary and so holy in Cordoba.”

From the prestigious library of Camille Aboussouan, Lebanese ambassador to UNESCO. “The quality of this large collection was various, some good, others less so, others again rather spoiled by the owner’s conspicuous device stamped on bindings and title pages… The top price was £26,000, paid for a set of drawings of the Levant, made c. 1839 for the Prince de Joinville, serving in the escadre de l’est of the French navy” (from a saleroom report in The Book Collector, Autumn 1993, p.401).

Palau 366045.


Die Psalmen des h. Königs und Propheten Davids…; samt den gebräuchlichen alten Psalmen, Fest- und Kirchengesängen, zu vier Stimmen aussgesezet und der lieben Kirche Gottes zu gutem mit allem Fleisse heraussgegeben

Zurich, bey Michael Schaufelbergers sel. E. und Christoff Hardmeyer, 1712.


8vo. pp. 624 (of 632), 187 (xiii). Gothic letter, woodcut vignette on title-page with Greek motto in a cartouche (Jacob’s ladder, Genesis 28: 10-19). Another title for the second part. German text and musical notations. A few wormholes to lower margin throughout, sometimes affecting the text. Early autograph and annotations in German on front endpaper. Contemp. calf, marble pastedowns and brass heart-shaped clasps and catches, a.e.g.

Ambrosius Lobwasser (1515–1585) was a German humanist and translator, born in Saxony. He is best known for this “Psalter des Königlichen Propheten David”, published in 1573 (Leipzig). This metrical psalter, a translation of the Genevan psalter became one of the standard psalm-books used by the evangelical churches of the German-speaking lands, including Switzerland (the Genevan Psalter had been written in French). The Lobwasser psalter was widely reprinted into the 1800s.

Not in Darlow and Moule


Te Fauffa Api, a to tatou fatu e te ora a Iesu Mesia Ra:…

London, Neia e Richard Watts, 1838.


12mo, (ii) A-Z6 2A-2X6 , pp. (iv) 516. Autograph on title page: “Tho[mas] Ormson / Portsea / 15 July 1843”. A crisp, clean copy bound in contemporary gilt-ruled sheep, rebacked sympathetically, with red morocco label to gilt spine in five compartments. This is the first separately published New Testament in Tahitian, published in 3000 copies.

Darlow and Moule 9081.



He Kaine Diatheke. Novum Testamentum. Juxta exemplar Millianum.

Oxford, Typis Joannis Baskerville, E Typographeo Clarendoniano, Sumptibus Academiae, 1763.


FIRST EDITION (only 500 copies published). 2 vols in a very large 4to format with “signatures in twos. Text not divided into verses but with verse-numbers given in the margin” (Darlow & Moule, 4755); 415 pp. plus title-page, lacking the initial half-title; this copy was specially bound for William Newcome (1729-1800), Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, with interleaved blank sheets throughout and ten additional initial and final blanks in both volumes: Matthew and Luke, pp. 1-236, in Vol. I, and Paul and John, pp. 236-415, in Vol. II. Copiously annotated and underlined by the owner, who left his autograph on the top right corner of the t-p. The books are provided with plenty of philological observations and references to classical authors, both Greek and Latin, and comparisons with critical studies of the bible by other eminent scholars. Contemp. bindings, calf over gilt spine in compartments with red morocco label, vellum corners, marble paper over thick boards. Covers, joints and edges rubbed, 1st vol.’s head of spine slightly damaged. Notwithstanding, an appealing binding. A clean, wide-margined and unique copy.

This edition shows the Greek types designed by the celebrated printer John Baskerville (1706- 1775). It mostly reproduces the text edited by John Mills (1707), which is “perhaps the most famous Greek Testament of the eighteenth century […] a reprint of Stephanus’ text of 1550, with a very few slight variations.” (Darlow & Moule, 4725).

“The press made one purchase from Baskerville. By the time that he approached the Delegates with a proposal for a new great primer Greek in June 1758, Savile’s Greek types had become unfashionable. Baskerville had been cutting types for just five years but was sufficiently convincing for the Delegates to order ‘a new Set of Greek Puncheons, matrices and moulds, in Great Primer’ and 3 hundredweight of type. Once the type arrived in 1761, the workmen were paid to set up and print two samples for a new Greek Testament, one in the new type and the other in ‘the Large Greek’. On the basis of this comparative specimens the Delegates agreed that a ‘Greek Testament in Quarto and Octavo be printed on Baskerville’s Letter’. However, no more type was ever bought from Baskerville” (Gadd (ed.)., The History of the Oxford University Press, I, p.222).

The owner of this copy was a prestigious Englishman and cleric of the Church of Ireland: The Most Reverend William Newcome. He studied at Abingdon School and then moved to Oxford, having obtained a scholarship at Pembroke College. He graduated from Hertford College in theology. His elevation to the primacy was said to be the express act of King George III. His appointment was described by James Caulfeild, 1st Earl of Charlemont, as the reward of character, principles, and erudition. A fine classical scholar, imbued with an excellent knowledge of Ancient Greek and Latin, Newcome is especially remembered for “An attempt toward revising our English translation of the Greek Scriptures, and toward illustrating the sense by philological and explanatory notes” (1796) (commonly known as “Archbishop Newcome’s new translation”). This is to be distinguished from the revised version of Thomas Belsham published by Unitarians after his death: “The New Testament in an Improved Version Upon the Basis of Archbishop Newcome’s New Translation” (1808). Newcome worked at a revision of the whole English bible, of which “An Attempt” was the New Testament portion. In the preface to his work he declares: “my original intention extended no further than to improve our authorised translation of the Greek scriptures; following the text of Griesbach’s excellent edition […] I subjoined a comment to the text of such an important and difficult book. I therefore engaged in a second labour of selection and abridgment from a body of notes which I had formed, or compiled, many years ago, with occasional additions suggested by able commentators, or by my own study of the sacred writings.” One can hence identify the present annotated copy as the result of his learned effort to provide the English reader with a more trustworthy translation of the Gospels, achieved through an expansive philological investigation and comparison of Ancient Greek and Latin sources. It is known that the German biblical scholar Johann Jakob Griesbach (1745-1812), who first elaborated the hypothesis of the Synoptic Gospels, sojourned in England, where he may have met Henry Owen (1716-1775), author of “Observations on the Four Gospels” (1764). It is plausible then to surmise an exchange also between Newcome and Griesbach, whose critical edition of the New Testament first appeared at Halle between 1774 and 1775.

Darlow & Moule, 4755; Gaskell Add. 2.


The Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, According to the Use of the Church of England, Together with the Psalter or Psalms of David, …And the Form & Manner of Making, Ordaining, & Consecrating of Bishops, Priests and Deacons.

London, Printed by John Baskett and Robert Baskett, …, 1742; Printed by James Roberts, …, 1739.


Folio. No pagination and foliation; ff. ii, [a]4 b-c 4 A-Z4 Aa-Zz4 Aaa1 A-O2 . Double-column text. Roman and Italic letter, sporadic black letter. Title in red and black, attractive floriated and historiated woodcut initials from various sets and of different sizes, and capital spaces with guideletters; large head- and tail-pieces, signed engraved frontispiece of Saint Paul’s Cathedral (by artist James Mynde). Tables containing the calendar of movable and immovable feasts and prayer times. Prayers referring to the royals were cut out from a late C19th edition of the BCP and glued on the matching passages – A4v and B1r (Morning Prayer), B3v B4r (Evening Prayer) and C2r (The Litany) – as a sort of update for the Victorian subject and faithful. B3 and C2 with small tears to lower margin, Hh1 with large clean tear from lower margin towards centre; large ink stain to margin of D2. Sumptuous contemporary full panelled green morocco gilt, elaborately gilt decorated spine, raised bands, marbled endpapers with bookplate of “Margaret Trotter”, a.e.g. Bound with a 1739 edition of Sternhold and Hopkins’ metrical psalter. Occasional soiling and thumb marks, especially to lower corners. Lightly rubbed on covers, minor chips to hinges and edges. A very impressive volume.

Griffiths 1742:1