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Original price £5,000.00 - Original price £5,000.00
Original price
£5,000.00 - £5,000.00
Current price £5,000.00

Josephus, Flavius [Arlenius, Arnoldus, ed.]: [Greek letters] Phlabiou Iosepou Ioudaikes archaiologias logoi 20. Ioudaikes haloseos logoi 7 : Peri archaiotetos Ioudaion kata Apionos logoi 2. Eis tous Makkabaious logos, e Peri autokratoros logismou. Flavii Josephi Opera. Basileae [Basel], [Colophon: [Greek letters] Para tõ Ieronumõ Frobeniõ kai Nikolaõ tõ Episkopiõ]. 1544.

Copy from an important Bohemian library of the editio princeps of the 1st-cent. CE historian Flavius Josephus (Yosef ben Matityahu). The edition is “dedicated to [...] Diego Hurtado Mendoza, who was ambassador of Charles V. and who, on his death, left a great number of Greek MSS. which were deposited in the Escorial library” (Dibdin).

This copy has the large and distinctive bookplate, by Lucas Kilian (1579-1637), of the Bohemian bibliophile, industrialist, courtier, public administrator and Lutheran, Ferdinand Hoffman, Freiherr von Grünbühel (1540-1607). The book was purchased by him in a French binding, identified by the style of the titling to spine, and the blind ruling to the spine panels. The wreath to the covers is similar to that on a binding from the workshop of Paris bookseller and royal binder Georges Drobet (d.1596), but a different tool has been used, and Drobet did not have a monopoly on this design (see Léon Gruel, Manuel historique et bibliographique de l’amateur de reliures, I (Paris 1887), plate facing p. 86). This binding is not the usual for a book from Hoffman’s library: many were bound on his instructions in green-stained parchment. Much of Hoffman’s library was dispersed in sales of his descendant, Prince Alexander Dietrichstein, in Luzern, 1933-4.


Editio princeps. One volume, 33.3 cms. x 23 cms. in binding, folio, pp. [12], 967 [1]. Title in red and black with red Froben caduceus device. Woodcut inhabited initial at beginning of preface, woodcut headpieces. Roman and (almost entirely) Greek text. Light browning and foxing, the final leaf repaired and with a small hole (1.9 cms. x 1 cms.) in the text.

Bound in dark brown calf, filletted in gilt, with central gilt wreath device, 7.5 cms. x 5.4 cms., to covers. Spine with six raised bands. Gilt fleuron to six compartments, one compartment has stamped in gilt OPA IOSEPHI GRECE in a gilt cartouche with bracketed sides (the ‘p’ in ‘opa’ ligatured). cracking to top joint of binding, careful repairs, mainly to bottom joint.


  1. Intaglio bookplate of Ferdinand Hoffman, Freiherr von Grünbühel (1540-1607), 25.8 cms. x 17 cms., by L. Kilian after design by M. Gundelach; and thence by descent to the Dietrichstein library of Mikulov Castle. Shelfmark from this period, in brown crayon to front free endpaper, B, VI 5.
  2. Old German-language printed bookseller’s description pasted to rear pastedown.
  3. Late 20th-cent. bookowner’s label of Eric de Bellaigue.

USTC 683976. Adams J 351. VD16 J 955. Dibdin (4th edn.) II 130. H. Gilhofer & H. Ranschburg, Biblothek Alexander Fürst Dietrichstein [...] Versteigerung in Luzern, Dienstag, den 21., und Mittwoch, den 22. November 1933 (catalogue printed Vienna, [1933]), p. 99, lot 490 (this copy; price estimate, on separate sheet, 250 Swiss Francs).

With many thanks to Nicholas Pickwoad for his comments on the binding. On Hoffman, see Miloslav Rechcigl, ‘Pursuing the Bohemian Identity of Martinus Hermanzen Hoffman, an Early Settler in the 17th Century's New Amsterdam. Facts – Legend or a Hoax?’ (document published on, accessed 20 April 2023). Hoffman’s bookplate is reproduced at Tafel 39 of sale catalogue above.