Vulgate Bible


Vulgate Bible

Italian (Venice), 1511

Language: Latin

University of Oregon Library, Special Collections and Archives Rare Books,
Edward Burgess Early Printed Book Collection, Burgess 026


Diebold, William. The Illustrated Book in the Age of Printing: Books and Manuscripts from Oregon Collections. Portland, OR: Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, 1993, p. 22 - Quoted with permission

Although printed in 1511, this book uses many woodcuts from previous Italian Bibles. This frontispiece to the Old Testament [refers to page on display in exhibit for which this text was a catalog entry], for example, was first used in a 1490 Bible printed for Giunta, the printer/publisher of this book. Interestingly, that Bible was in the vernacular and so the captions cut into the block name the six days of creation in Italian, even though the edition on display is a Latin Bible. Such reuse of blocks over a span of more than two decades made the production of richly illustrated books like this one relatively cheap in the long run. Reuse was aided by the durability of wood blocks; these were not, however, indestructible. The outline of a piece of type which was inadvertently pressed into the block, damaging it, is visible at the lower left of the image of the second day of creation. Apparently, such damage was not thought sufficiently disfiguring to make it worthwhile to undertake the expense of cutting a new block. Likewise, the discrepancy in language between the text of this Bible and the captions in the woodcut was not enough to keep the block from being reused.