The Clementine Vulgate-Printed by Desclee (AD 1881-1901)

 

According to our research, this excellent edition of the Latin Vulgate was printed in various bindings from 1881 to 1901 by The Society of St. John the Evangelist press which was officially established in 1882 by Henri and Jules Deslcee. They devoted themselves to all kinds of printing ventures, including the production of religious images, which is evident from the beauty of these Vulgate editions.  We have been able to collect the editions of 1881 (1st edition), 1885, 1894, and 1901. Above is a photo of our collection, starting with 2 tomes of the 1881 edition on the far left, 3 of the 1885, 1 of the 1894, and finally, 2 of  the 1901 editions. It is difficult to collect information on these editions, so what is stated here is based on what knowledge we have obtained from the experience of buying vintage copies of the book. We have found that the coverings of this book can vary even within the same year of publication. Of the 1901 editions we have, one is bound in bonded paper and the other in cloth. All of the 1885's are leather- but one is red with gold gilded pages and ornate designs on the spine, one has red page edges with brown leather covers, and the other is a simple red leather edition. I've seen an 1894 in bonded paper yet the edition I posess is half leather/half black linen. So it seems the publisher produced a wide variety of bindings to fit the diverse needs of the consumer. The paper used had always been a high-quality, thin bible paper.  Yet not too thin as to allow too much bleed-through.  The total thickness and weight of the 1901 editions is slighty less that it's earlier counterparts, so it seems a change to thinner paper was made in the last edition. Finding used editions is not too entirely difficult, although most of the tomes in my collection were obtained from various European used booksellers. The later editions can normally be had for $50 to $100. The first edition can bring as much as $1000. I have yet to find an 1883 edition.

Now the 1881 edition needs some special attention here.  The copies we posess are absolutely the most beautiful of all.  One in red leather, the other in black, both with ornate designs in gold embossed into them. They also have gold page edges, which seemed to be rare in the later editions. The thing that sets this edition farthest apart from the later editions is the size of the tome and the two-color text. The printer employed red ink in many places of the printing and outlined the text in a simple, red line border. September 2009 Update: We have acquired yet another copy of the 1881 edition from a used book seller in Belgium. Wrapped in red leather, embossed with many ornate designs, raised bands on the spine. gilded page edges, decorative end papers- no expense was spared in the production of this beautiful edition of the Holy Bible in Latin. We have posted some pictures below of the tome that we have just received.  I intend on reprinting this fine edition. It is the best way to preserve it and prevent it from becoming a victim of history.

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