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brief notes:
the first roman bible

I Love Typography

brief notes:
the first roman bible

Sweynheym and Pannartz are credited with introducing printing to Italy via their press at the monastery of Santa Scolastica at Subiaco, outside of Rome in 1465. They appear to have been relatively successful, even sending quite a number of their books to Rome itself. However, in 1467 they move their press to Rome, where by 1473 they were all but out of business. However, in addition to being Italy’s first typographers, they were the first to print a Latin Bible in roman type (ISTC: ib00535000; Type: 2:115R)

Detail from Biblia latina, with handwritten Lombardic capitals in red & blue. Rome: Sweynheym & Pannartz, 1471. Image courtesy of Austrian National Library

It is strange that apparently Luigi Balsamo* claimed it as the only Latin Bible printed in roman type during the entire fifteenth century. He was almost right: The only other Latin Bible I know of, printed in roman type in the fifteenth century, was published by the R-Printer, Adolf Rusch, in Strassburg, ca. 1473 (ISTC: ib00536500) (though GW takes the minority view in dating it to 1470).


Detail from Biblia latina, Strassburg: Adolf Rusch (The R-Printer), circa 1473. Image courtesy of Austrian National Library

In 1476, Jenson prints his first Bible in Latin (ISTC: ib00547000) but it is set not in roman but gothic type.

Not until the Reformation do we begin to see many more Latin — and vernacular — Bibles set in roman type.

* See Incunabula and their Readers, p. 230 [note 6]

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