A quarto Bible from Lyons

A leaf from Biblia diligentissime emendata cum Concordantiis (The Holy Bible, most carefully translated, with concordances) printed by Nicolaus de Benedictis in Lyons in 1512 (240 x 164 mm)  

A feature of this leaf is its size, which is smaller than any of the earlier printed Bible leaves in my collection. Clearly the book was intended for personal rather than institutional use. It comes from Lyons, where by 1500 more printed editions had been produced than anywhere else in Europe, apart from Venice and Paris. Though not a university town, it was an important financial and commercial centre where books for the home would sell well.

The leaf is quarto-sized, meaning that every sheet or paper that came from the press carried four pages on each side rather than the two used for larger 'folio' sized Bibles. This saved on paper and the number of pulls of the press needed for the whole edition, though that would have been offset in this case by the demands of two-colour printing. For a quarto book each printed sheet had to be folded twice before binding. If the binder did not sufficiently trim the book then the reader would encounter uncut leaves which would have to be individually separated using a paper-knife. 

The printer of this leaf, Nicolaus de Benedictis, seems to have been even more cosmopolitan than some other printers. Born a Catalan, he ran a press in Turin, Italy, before moving to France.  Apart from its handy size, his 1512 Latin Bible had other selling-points: the promise of accuracy ('diligentissime emendata'), helpful chapter summaries printed in red, marginal annotations, folio numbers and a woodcut initial to start each chapter. My leaf is from the Second Book of Kings, chapters 14-16. 

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