Saturday, July 22, 2017

1487 The Tudor Rose in the Book Binding of Anton Koberger's Printing of Nicolas De Lyra's Bible

Setting the Stage

I was wandering the hall of the annual Boston Antiquarian Book Fair and found volume 3 of Nicolas De Lyra's work (of a 4 volume set) printed by Anton Koberger in Latin and printed and illuminated in 1487 and in a binding that was missing its hardware (except the clasps). On closer inspection the binding had in small marginella tooled around the borders, what appeared to me to be the 'Tudor Rose'. The bookseller had not noted this in his description, and assuming he was too old and his eyesight was poor, he had overlooked this remarkable tooling or thought it not important. Perhaps it isn't, but it still remains a mystery that after purchasing it, I have been determined to try and solve.

I'm not in any of the photos and these were from the 2016 show, which I was unable to attend as I was on a business trip in Poland at the time of the show (much to my regret as I love going to this show, but I also like going to Poland too).

I have kept this book for many years, looking at it and inspecting it and trying to find out more information about to whom it might have been made for during the period (1487). It certainly was made for the English market (because of the Tudor Rose and the Stag deer and other markings) and that started a long quest which has revealed some interesting hints. But yet no clear answers. The other three volumes with similar bindings would have completed the picture. So somewhere out there in the world is an incomplete set of Tudor Rose bindings of the Latin version of Nicolas De Lyra's (1487 Latin Text) Bible, printed and perhaps bound by the Koberger binder of choice for someone in the Tudor family or a closely related and allied Royal Family.

1480's and the Tudors

There were three royal houses (with great wealth and armies of men associated with them) that fought one another during the 100 years war (off and on) and this was known as the 'War of the Roses' symbolized by the White Rose for the house of York and the Red rose for the house of Lancaster. Also in the mix was the house of Plantagenet symbolized by a Sprig of Broom.

The Tudor's dynasty started with a Welshman technically; by birthplace, but who was a male descendant of the infamous Owen Tudor who secretly married King Henry V's (Henry V was a Plantagenet) widow and sprung the dynasty, culminating in the last royal heir of Queen Elisabeth I. Henry VII claimed the throne through royal (somewhat sketchy links) as the last male Lancasterian and fought and won on the battlefield (he was the last king to take title to the English throne through battle, forget Cromwell, he was no King). Rather than trying to paraphrase the information, here is a direct excerpt from Wiki.

"By 1483, Henry's mother was actively promoting him as an alternative to Richard III, despite her being married to a Yorkist, Lord Stanley. At Rennes Cathedral on Christmas Day 1483, Henry pledged to marry the eldest daughter of Edward IV, Elizabeth of York, who was also Edward's heir since the presumed death of her brothers, the Princes in the Tower (King Edward V and his brother Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York). Henry then received the homage of his supporters.

With money and supplies borrowed from his host, Francis II, Duke of Brittany, Henry tried to land in England, but his conspiracy unravelled, resulting in the execution of his primary co-conspirator, the Duke of Buckingham. Now supported by Francis II's prime-minister, Pierre Landais, Richard III attempted to extradite Henry from Brittany, but Henry escaped to France. He was welcomed by the French, who readily supplied him with troops and equipment for a second invasion.

Henry gained the support of the Woodvilles, in-laws of the late Edward IV, and sailed with a small French and Scottish force, landing in Mill Bay, Pembrokeshire, close to his birthplace. He marched towards England accompanied by his uncle Jasper and the Earl of Oxford. Wales was traditionally a Lancastrian stronghold, and Henry owed the support he gathered to his Welsh birth and ancestry, being directly descended, through his father, from Rhys ap Gruffydd.[23] He amassed an army of around 5,000 soldiers.

Henry was aware that his best chance to seize the throne was to engage Richard quickly and defeat him immediately, as Richard had reinforcements in Nottingham and Leicester. Richard only needed to avoid being killed to keep his throne. Though outnumbered, Henry's Lancastrian forces decisively defeated Richard's Yorkist army at the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485. Several of Richard's key allies, such as the Earl of Northumberland and William and Thomas Stanley, crucially switched sides or left the battlefield. Richard III's death at Bosworth Field effectively ended the Wars of the Roses, although it was not the last battle Henry had to fight." [Direct quotation from Wiki: Henry VII].

The Roses 

The House of York

The House of Lancaster

The Tudor Rose
(all images from Wiki)

Reportedly, Henry VII had great celebrations to cement his reign that went right through the coronation of his Queen in 1487. Magnificent gifts were brought to court and presented to the kings and queens as well as all their respective 'household'. It was the household that took care of the accounts, managed the personal affairs of both king and queen, each having their own representatives.

Anton Koberger

Anton Koberger (ca 1440-1513) was born to an established Nuremberg family of bakers, and makes his first appearance in 1464 in the Nuremberg list of citizens. In 1470 he married Ursula Ingram and after her death he remarried another member of the Nuremberg patriciate, Margarete Holzschuher, in 1491. In all he fathered twenty-five children, of whom thirteen survived to adulthood. Koberger was the godfather of Albrecht Dürer, whose family lived on the same street. In the year before Dürer's birth in 1471 he ceased goldsmithing to become a printer and publisher. He quickly became the most successful publisher in Germany, absorbing his rivals over the years to become a large capitalist enterprise, with twenty-four presses in operation, printing numerous works simultaneously and employing at its height 100 workers: printers, typesetters, typefounders, illuminators, and the like. In addition, he often contracted with other printers, including Adolf Rusch of Strassbourg and Jacob Sacon of Lyon, to do additional printing work. Koberger printed over 200 titles of incunabula, including 15 different copies of the Latin Bible. His most famous work was the illustrated Nuremberg Chronicles which he published in 1493 in both German and Latin editions. It is believed he printed over 1000 copies of each at a time when most printers issued editions of only 300 copies. It is said that his only business blunder was when he turned down Martin Luther’s request to become Luther’s publisher. Constantly improving his business prospects, he sent out traveling agents and established links with booksellers all over Western Europe, including Venice, Europe's other great centre of printing, Milan, Paris, Lyon, Vienna and Budapest. At the supply end, he obtained two paper mills. His printing house survived his death only until 1526, and the family continued as goldsmiths and jewelers.

Anton Koberger (1440-1513) 'not engraved by Albrecht Durer'

The period of printing and distribution that Koberger started and mastered was later copied in England by William Caxton (1422-1491), who directly served the Tudor family with his publications. While Caxton and Koberger never worked together, Caxton repeated Koberger's successful strategy of integrating all aspects of the book publishing, printing, binding and distribution.

The Koberger Bible Volume 3 with Tudor Roses

The tooling is done on tanned pig skin leather, one of the toughest and most durable leathers (oink, oink...).

Running Stag and Tudor Rose

Over all binding (white areas are where the 'Bosses' were removed, center and corner.

The Center Emblem Surrounded by Vines and Tudor Roses

An Additional Feature that is not clear but appears to have grapes and a bunch of flowers? Could it be Plantagenet Broom Flowers?

Prologue- Opening for Volume 3

Previous ownership and period hand titling, notice on the inside seam the exposure of an older velum document...

Only a few lines are visible of the older velum document (used to bind the book).

Koberger signature and declaring the volume to be the work of Nicolas De Lyra

One of the engravings found in the book...


A floor plan---

The Book Description

De Lyra, Nicolaus. Bible in Latin. Nuremberg, 1487; Anton Koberger. 348 leaves, complete and in a contemporary binding of blind-stamped pig skin, with clasps remaining; possibly from the Koberger workshop. Emblems include the Tudor Rose and the running Stag as well as an unknown center board symbol. Worm holes are present in the first and last few leaves with occasional browning on some of the leaves. Small paper loss on several of the leaves but not affecting text. Illustrated and a fine example of a incunabula of this period. Part 3 of the 1487 bible in Latin. BMC vol. 2, 431; Unusual collation but complete: AA10-GG10, HH12; JJ10-MM10, N12; OO8; PP10-TT10, U6; XX6; YY10-ZZ10; aaa10-fff10, g8; hhh8, jjj10-mmm10, n8.

Nicholas Of Lyra (c. 1270–October 1349), or Nicolaus Lyranus, a Franciscan teacher, was among the most influential practitioners of Biblical exegesis in the Middle Ages. He was a doctor at the Sorbonne by 1309 and ten years later was appointed the head of all Franciscans in France. His major work, Postillae perpetuae in universam S. Scripturam, was the first printed commentary on the Bible. Printed in Rome in 1471, it was later available in Venice, Basel, and elsewhere. In it, each page of Biblical text was printed in the upper center of the page and embedded in a surrounding commentary Nicolas of Lyra's approach to explicating Scripture was firmly based on the literal sense, which for him is the foundation of all mystical or allegorical or anagogical expositions. He deplored the tortured and elaborated readings being given to Scripture in his time. The textual basis was so important that he urged that errors be corrected with reference to Hebrew texts, an early glimmer of techniques of textual criticism, though Nicholas urged as a good Catholic that the traditions of the Church were of equal weight to Scripture:

"I protest that I do not intend to assert or determine anything that has not been manifestly determined by Sacred Scripture or by the authority of the Church... Wherefore I submit all I have said or shall say to the correction of Holy Mother Church and of all learned men..." (Second Prologue to Postillae).

Nicholas utilized all sources available to him, fully mastered Hebrew and drew copiously from the Talmudic commentaries, the Pugio Fidei of Raymond Martini and of course the commentaries of St. Thomas Aquinas. His lucid and concise exposition, his soundly-based observations made Postillae the most-consulted manual of exegesis until the 16th century. Martin Luther depended upon it. When E.A. Gosselin compiled a listing of the printed editions of works by Nicolaus de Lyra, it ran to 27 pages (in Traditio 26 (1970), pp 399-426). He was born in the village of Vieille-Lyre, Normandy, hence his name. Like others in the 14th century, he was occupied by the possibility of the conversion of the Jews, to whom he dedicated hortatory addresses. He wrote Pulcherrimae quaestiones Iudaicam perfidam in catholicam fide improbantes, which was one of the sources Martin Luther used in his On the Jews and Their Lies.

This item along with many other rare works can be found at: 

SOLD- 10-2017

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