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    Third Venice and Final Incunable Edition of Josephus's "Antiquities of the Jews" and "The Jewish War"

    Flavius Josephus. De antiquitate Judaica. [And:] De bello Judaico. [Translated by Rufinus Aquileiensis. Edited by Hieronymus Squarzaficus]. [Venice: Albertinus Vercellensis, for [the heirs of] Octavianus Scotus, 23 October 1499]. Third Venice edition of Josephus's works in Latin (after the 10 May and 31 March 1481 edition published by Reynaldus de Novimagio and the 23 October 1486 edition by Johannes Rubeus Vercellensis; first published 28 June and 23 August 1470 by Johann Schüssler in Augsburg), and the final incunable edition. Two parts in one folio volume (11.5 x 7.875 inches; 293 x 200 mm.). [274 (of 276)] leaves ([13], I-CLXXXI, [1, blank], CLXXXII-CCLX; fols. XCI-XCVI incorrectly numbered XCII-XCVII). Signatures: a8 b6 A-Y8 Z6 (Z6 blank) AA-II8 KK8. Lacking a1 (title, verso blank) and KK8 (Register, verso blank), but with blank leaf Z6. Roman type, sixty lines plus headline. Numerous four- to twelve-line decorative and historiated woodcut initials, most white-on-black, a few initials colored or partially colored by an early hand. Colophon on verso of KK7 (fol. CCLXv): "Explicit Iosephus Antiquitatum & de Bello Iudaico. Impressum / Venetiis per diligentissimum virum Albertinum Vercellen- / sem, Expensis Domini Octaviani scoti & fratris eius: An- / no Domini. M. CCCCXCIX. die. XXIII. Octobris."
    In a sixteenth-century chained binding of alum-tawed blindstamped pigskin over bevelled wooden boards (a remboîtage?). Covers panelled with three different roll-tools enclosing a panel with a central arabesque; the middle roll with figures of Christ (with caption: "DATA E / ST MIH"), Peter (with caption: "TV ES P / ETRVS"), Paul (with caption: "APPAR / VIT B"), and John the Baptist (with caption: "ECCE A / NGNVS" [sic], with Ns reversed). Spine ruled in blind with four double raised bands, with early lettering (now illegible) in the first compartment, "Tomus I" in the second compartment, and the letter "T" in the third compartment. Two (new?) catch plates engraved with the initials "W S" on front board; remains of straps attached to rear board; chain attached to upper edge of rear board. Edges sprinkled red. Fore-edge with "JOSEPHUS" written vertically in red ink in Greek letters by an early hand, and with shelfmark written horizontally in two lines in black ink in a later hand. Manuscript waste pastedowns from a choirbook on paper (with four four-line red staves). Binding rubbed and soiled, with several repairs; both covers with loss of pigskin at outer two inches of boards. Occasional mostly marginal staining and soiling; first leaf (a2, "Tabula") quite browned and worn; lower edge of text block frayed and with a few short tears through gathering H (fol. LXIV); a2 through H6 (fol. LXII) and several leaves at end (II3-II6 (fols. CCXLVIII-CCLI), and KK4-KK7 (fols. CCLVI-CCLX)) strengthened in lower gutter (repairing water damage?); GG5 (fol. CCXXXIIII) with repair upper blank corner; upper corner of KK7 (fol. CCLX) renewed, affecting foliation, and lower margin strengthened on recto; upper gutter margin creased and with small hole from II6 (fol. CCLI) to KK7 (fol. CCLXX); outer edge of C1 and C2 (fols. XVII and XVIII) with short tear and creases at outer edge; paper flaw (one-inch tear and crease) outer margin of D3 (fol. XXVII); a few additional minor marginal paper flaws. Large stain in the text in the final gathering KK, with small hole in KK4 and KK5, affecting a few letters in two lines, becoming larger, with repairs on KK6 and KK7, affecting several words in ten lines, including the colophon on the verso of KK7; additional small hole outer margin of KK4-KK7. A few leaves closely trimmed at top edge, sometimes affecting foliation and/or headline. Early ink marginalia and underlining throughout, in several hands, cropped at the outer edge; early ink ownership inscriptions trimmed at head of a2 ("Tabula"); occasional corrections in black ink in a later hand. A good copy. Front pastedown with armorial bookplate printed in green, designed and engraved by Alexander Litvinenko (1922) for Professor Vladislav Lukomsky (1882-1946), "the most outstanding Russian heraldist of the first half of the twentieth century" (see "Three Heraldic Bookplates by Alexander Litvinenko (1922)" at
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    Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (AD 37-after 93) "visited Rome in early adulthood, returning to Jerusalem in 66 on the eve of the Jewish Revolt against Roman domination...He tried to persuade the nationalist leaders that war with Rome could lead only to disaster, but without success. When the revolt broke out in the same year, Josephus was given command of Galilee by the Sanhedrin (the supreme council in Jerusalem). He survived the siege of Jotapata and was captured; he claims that his life was spared when he prophesied to the Roman commander Vespasian that the latter would become emperor, but he was kept in captivity until his prediction was fulfilled in 69. After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 he did what he could to help his Jewish friends. Subsequently he settled in Rome, where he received Roman citizenship, a house, and a pension. His first work, Bellum Iudaicum ('History of the Jewish War against the Romans'), in seven books, was originally written in Aramaic for the Jews in Mesopotamia and later translated into Greek. The rest of his works are in Greek (Jerome called him 'the Greek Livy'). The first part of the Bellum Iudaicum deals with the history of the Jews during the 200 years or so before the revolt; the rest is devoted to the events of the war, many of which he witnessed in person. It ends with the capture of Masada. His next work was Antiquitates Iudaicae ('Jewish archaeology') in twenty books, a history of the Jews from Adam to AD 66, giving a fuller account than the Bellum Iudaicum of the events covered by the latter work" (The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature).


    BSB-Ink I-619. BMC V, page 421. Goff J-487. GW M15168. ISTC ij00487000. Oates 2017, 2018. Polain(B) 2332. Proctor 5148. Sack (Freiburg) 2163.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2015
    4th-5th Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 838

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