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    An Early Sixteenth-Century Edition of the
    Letters of Saint Jerome, Often Incorrectly
    Described as an Incunable

    Hieronymus (Saint Jerome). Epistolae [et Tractatus. Edited by Theodorus Lelius]. [Together with:] Lupus de Oliveto (Olmeto). Regula monachorum ex Epistolis Hieronymi excerpta. [Venice: Doninus (or Philippus) Pincius, not before 1502]. Early sixteenth-century edition of Saint Jerome's Letters, often incorrectly described as the Venice edition of Johannes Rubeus Vercellensis, 7 January and 12 July 1496. Two parts in one folio volume (12.0625 x 8.5625 inches; 307 x 217 mm.). Complete with 398 leaves. [6], 903 [i.e. 392] leaves (numbers 323-324 repeated; fols. 25, 71, 96, 139, 163, 186, 240, 298, 316, 339, 366, and 390 misnumbered 52, 72, 69, 136, 263, 189, 220, 898, 315, 349, 266, and 903). Signatures: [pi]6 a-u8 x4 A-Z8 AA-CC8 DD6 EE8 FF6 (CC2 signed C2). Gathering Y (fols. 331-338) bound between gatherings R (fols. 293-300) and S (fols. 301-308). Roman type. Text in double columns, 62 lines. Three- to thirteen-line capital spaces, most with guide letters. The letter "F" has been supplied in ink by an early hand on C2 recto (fol. 182r). Headlines also supplied in ink by an early hand.
    Eighteenth-century Italian half vellum over decorative paper-covered boards (possibly Remondini paper). Smooth spine lettered in early ink: "EPISTOLAE / S. HIERONYMI," with the number "33" in ink above it. Small paper label on spine numbered "170" in ink within a printed blue frame. Edges sprinkled red (top edge darkened). The binding is somewhat worn and stained, with a few small areas of surface loss to both vellum and boards (but still an excellent example of eighteenth-century Italian decorated paper boards); small crack in vellum at front joint. Title is quite worn, with a vertical crease down the center, a few small pieces torn from outer edge, faint dampstaining to the upper portion of the leaf, a few smaller darker stains, and a few tiny wormholes, not affecting text. Dampstaining to upper portion of text throughout, heavier in places, some leaves with traces of mold. Staining to outer margin of V7 and V8 (fols. 323 and 324); stain in the text on Y5-Y8 (fols. 335-338), and continuing on Z1-Z3 (fols. 339-341), with a quarter-size hole in Y6 (fol. 336), affecting ten lines in both columns on recto and seven lines on verso; a few additional small stains or ink spots; small piece burned from outer margin of u7 (fol. 159); small piece torn from outer margin of DD1-EE8 (fols. 371-384); several leaves with minor marginal paper flaws. Small adhesion on f1 verso (fol. 41v), affecting three words in two lines, and on r3 recto (fol. 131r), affecting four letters in two lines. Paper repairs to the outer margin of FF1-FF6 (fols. 385-390), gutter margin of FF1 and FF6, and lower margin of FF1, with loss of a few letters, some supplied in pen facsimile. Some very occasional foxing and marginal worming. Early ink ownership inscription on title-page: "Decii Gilusii et Amicorum;" early ink underlining and marginalia throughout; a few early ink corrections. A good copy. From the Krown & Spellman Collection.
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    More Information:

    Includes (on EE1 recto-FF6 recto (fols. 377r-[392r]) Lupus de Olmeto's Regula monachorum ex Epistolis Hieronymi excerpta, which is also found elsewhere as an anonymous work entitled Aureola ex floribus S. Hieronymi contexta.

    Type-assignment to Doninus Pincius (Donnino Pinzi) by GW (Goff); this edition has also been assigned to Philippus Pincius (Filippo Pinzi).

    This edition is a reprint (almost page-for-page) of the 7 January and 12 July 1496 Venice edition of Johannes Rubeus Vercellensis (Goff H175), and has often been incorrectly as such because the date 7 January 1496 was reproduced in the first colophon of the Doninus Pincius edition on x4 verso (fol. 164v): "Divi Hieronymi epistolarum partis primae volume feliciter finit. Die. vii. Lanuarii [sic]. M. cccc. xcvi." The second colophon of the Doninus Pincius edition on DD6 verso (fol. 376v) was also presumably reproduced from the 1496 edition, but without the place, printer, or date: "Divi Hieronymi religio[n]is ecclesiasticae doctoris eximii huic secu[n]do epistolarum volumini finis i[m]ponit[ur]." The 1496 Johannes Rubeus Vercellensis edition and the later (not before 1502) Doninus Pincius edition have the same number of leaves and the same signature collation, but the 1496 edition is printed in one column rather than two.

    BSB-Ink H-256. EDIT16 70620. Goff H177. GW II Sp. 56a. Hain 8564*. Harvard S1-2751a. ISTC ih00177000. Polain (B) 4436. Sack (Freiburg) 1841.

    From the Krown & Spellman Collection.

    "The correspondence of St. Jerome is one of the best known parts of his literary output. It comprises about one hundred and twenty letters from him, and several from his correspondents. Many of these letters were written with a view to publication, and some of them the author even edited himself; hence they show evidence of great care and skill in their composition, and in them St. Jerome reveals himself a master of style. These letters, which had already met with great success with his contemporaries, have been, with the 'Confessions' of St. Augustine, one of the works most appreciated by the humanists of the Renaissance. Aside from their literary interest they have great historical value. Relating to a period covering half a century they touch upon most varied subjects; hence their division into letters dealing with theology, polemics, criticism, conduct, and biography. In spite of their turgid diction they are full of the man's personality. It is in this correspondence that the temperament of St. Jerome is most clearly seen: his waywardness, his love of extremes, his exceeding sensitiveness; how he was in turn exquisitely dainty and bitterly satirical, unsparingly outspoken concerning others and equally frank about himself" (Catholic Encyclopdia).


    "Jerome did not require sixteenth-century editorial commentary to make him a prominent religious authority in Europe. Even before his death in Bethlehem in 419 or 420, his works circulated widely. He succeeded in defining himself as an eminent Christian man of letters, leaving behind a vast correspondence, second only to Augustine's in Christian antiquity. Jerome often presided over the transcription of his letters and other works, which were transcribed countless times until the dawn of print and slightly afterwards. He bequeathed to Western Christendom the 'fruits of rabbinical and Greek exegesis,' especially that of the controversial Origen. His chief contribution to a new Latin version of the Bible was his translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew, not from the Greek Septuagint...In 1295, Pope Boniface VIII officially confirmed what the medieval West had acknowledged since the late eighth century: Jerome was one of the four great doctors of the Church along with Augustine, Ambrose, and Gregory the Great. His cult blossomed in the fourteenth and remained vigorous into the sixteenth century...Several monastic congregations founded in the second half of the fourteenth century took inspiration from Jerome. Among these, the Spanish Hieronymites became tremendously successful" (Hilmar M. Pabel, Herculean Labours: Erasmus and the Editing of St. Jerome's Letters in the Renaissance (Leiden: Brill, 2008), pages 15-16).


    Lupus de Olmeto (Lope de Olmedo, 1370-1433) was a leader of the Spanish Hieronymites. His Monastic Rule, Compiled from the Writings of Saint Jerome for the Observants of the Order of Saint Jerome was compiled in 1418, and approved by Pope Martin V in 1428. Olmeto arranges quotations from the writings of Saint Jerome according to themes, such as obedience, chastity, poverty, solitude, contemplation, charity, peace, the desert fathers, the merits of hermits, and the dangers of the solitary life.


    The editor of the editio princeps, Theodorus Lelius (Teodoro de' Lelli) "realized that Jerome's letters were not well arranged; nor did they have any coherence among themselves. Consequently, he gathered them all into a 'definite order' and explained them with 'the most well-founded summaries' (argumentis verissimis). Owing to his innate humility, 'the most learned man' did not identify himself as the author of these 'little prefaces"...Creating an order for the texts and introducing them with argument represent his most enduring editorial contributions in the first several decades of print. Lelli's unsigned preface in the first volume [of the editio princeps]...emphasizes in particular the tripartite structure that he imposed on Jerome's letters. He arranged them in accordance with the general categories of doctrine, biblical interpretation, and Christian morals...[Giovanni Andrea] Bussi's edition (the 1468 Sweynheym and Pannartz edition, now identified as the second edition), as well as most other incunabular editions of Jerome's letters, adopted Lelli's tripartite structure and with some modifications his more detailed taxonomy...A Venetian printing of 1496 (Hain *8563; GW 12435) reproduced the argumenta without Lelli's preface. This served as the basis for another Venetian edition printed by Doninus Pincius after 1500 (Hain *8564)" (Pabel, pages 32-34).

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    8th-9th Wednesday-Thursday
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