Venice: Nicholaus Jenson, 1478 (before 6 May). First Edition. Four folio leaves (ca. 320 x 238 mm) extracted from a printed book, each leaf preserved in mylar L-sleeve. 2 cols., 48 lines, printed in red and black; 2-line initials in manuscript alternating in red and blue, and long, thin decorative tendrils descending between the columns and in the margins in some instances. Very good. Item #3184
PRINTED ON VELLUM and delicately rubricated by a Venetian scribe who was closely associated with the Jenson workshop.
¶ An excellent teaching collection of four individual leaves from the first edition of a purely liturgical text of the Roman Breviary. It was preceded into print by only a few Breviaries adapted for Franciscan or Augustinian use.
¶ Jenson's edition is notable for the beauty of the type-page, the extensive two-colour printing, and the luxury of its materials and finishing. Of this Breviary, a higher number of copies printed on vellum survive than for any other Jenson edition, and many of these are decorated. In her survey of decorated copies, Lilian Armstrong associates the decoration with the Jenson shop, and notes the overall uniformity of the flourished red and blue initials.
¶ Jenson's Breviary (1478) which is much rarer than his Bible. Some obvious institutions that do NOT have the Breviary include the Bodleian Library (or any other Oxford library), Cambridge University Library (or any other Cambridge library), and Princeton. In the U.S. there are only three copies recorded: Morgan Library, Huntington, and the Walters Art Gallery.
¶ Literature: L. Armstrong, ‘Nicolaus Jenson’s Breviarum Romanum, Venice, 1478, Decoration and Distribution’, Incunabula, Studies in Fifteenth-Century Printed Books presented to Lotte Hellinga, ed. M. Davies, 1999, 421-467, no. 21b.
¶ References: Goff B-1112. Hain *3896; GW 5101; CIBN B-783; IGI 2114; BMC V 179; BSB-Ink. B-889; Van Praet (Velins) I, 77, 78.