Friday, April 13, 2007

The Russian “Gutenberg” Bible for sale at only $115, 000

The Russian “Gutenberg” Bible.
The first Bible printed in Cyrillic 1581

Antiquariat Inlibris (Rare Books)
Vienna, Austria

First edition of the first Bible printed in Cyrillic type, a complete copy with stunning provenance. Printed by Ivan Fedorow, “founder of book printing and book publishing in Russia and Ukraine,” who left Lemberg and entered the service of the Prince of Ostrog. Konstantyn Ostrozhky was the most powerful magnate in Volhynia, one of the most influential figures in the Lithuanian-Ruthenian state and even a candidate for the Muscovite throne after the death of Tsar Fedor Ivanovich, the last member of the Riurykide dynasty, in 1598. The Ostrog Bible was prepared under the auspices of Konstantyn, who obtained from Moscow a copy of the manuscript Bible of Gennadius. He also collected Greek and Slavonic manuscripts, and with the help of “competent assistants…he tested the Slavonic text by the Greek and sometimes by the Latin, and substituted modern expressions for those which were obsolete or unintelligible, and corrected errors” (Darlow and Moule).
According to our knowledge, this is the only complete copy to appear in trade (or at auction) during the past decades. The last copy sold (Valuable Russian Books and Manuscripts, Christie’s, 30 Nov. 2006, lot 3, £22,800) lacked one page, and several leaves with missing text were supplied in manuscript, as was the case with all copies we managed to trace (including several in institutional libraries). Richly gilt binding with traces of restoration to corners and spine ends; a few leaves professionally remargined without touching text or loss to letters. Overall an extraordinarily good copy in its first binding with important provenance; one of the best-preserved copies in comparison with the numerous ones in institutional possession, and certainly the finest available from private hands for a very long time.

Asking Price - $115,000

For the complete details - see New York Book Fairs 2007

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I love books, I love reading them, I love owning them. I love History and Maps, Genealogy, Archaeology, and Sci Fi (Star Trek & Stargate) and Biographies.