Venice: Nicholaus Jenson, 1478 (before 6 May). First Edition. Folio (ca. 320 x 238 mm) printed on vellum. The entire gathering "z" comprising 16 consecutive pages, printed on four parchment sheets, each folded once to produce 8 folios (conjugate), extracted from a printed book, medieval (?) sewing thread visible in the middle of the gathering (leaves loosening). The entire gathering preserved in mylar L-sleeve. Printed in 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. IN BEAUTIFUL STATE. Near Fine. Item #3425
PRINTED ON VELLUM BY NICHOLAUS JENSON and delicately rubricated by a Venetian scribe who was closely associated with the Jenson workshop: see Lilian Armstrong's conclusive study, "Nicolaus Jenson’s Breviarum Romanum, Venice, 1478, Decoration and Distribution." This is AN EXCELLENT TEACHING COLLECTION of eight consecutive leaves (16 pages). The text is 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.