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Original price
£4,500.00 - £4,500.00
Current price £4,500.00

Justinian I (482-565), Emperor of the East [Chappuis, Jean]: Institutiones Imperiales. [Colophon: Parisius[sic.] per Udalricum Gering & magister Bertholdum Remboldt in Sole Aureo vici Sorbonici. 1505. Die Vero x. Decembris].

Heavily annotated copy in a contemporary German binding of the third edition of the Emperor Justinian’s Institutes (introduction to law for students), from the important contemporary legal editor Jean Chappuis. The first Chappuis edition had appeared, from the same press, in 1499. Chappuis supplements the ordinary gloss of Accursius (1185-1263) - the key and traditional apparatus that surrounds the text of Justinian - with another commentary printed in red, that is interspersed with the actual text, and draws from later commentators. Words in Greek where they occur have been returned to Justinian’s text. Preliminary material in the book includes a list of where all the extra added commentaries are found, an index of matters in the gloss, and the Greek alphabet and diphthongs, with the names of Greek letters and their sounds written in Latin script. Chappuis notes in his prefatory letter that the work on the Greek had been undertaken by the professor and pressworker Giorgios Hymonimos (1452-c.1508).

In its attention to Greek, the edition helps equip the law student for new humanist trends. The book also has engaging publicity material (on the title-page a mnemonic listing eleven reasons why this is an OPUS OPTIMUM - “brilliant book” - and on the last preliminary page, below a woodcut of Justinian, a poem with the first letter of each line spelling out the name of the editor IOHANNES CHAPPUIS). Chappuis is particularly famous in canon law, for drawing up the papal constitutions called “Extravagantes” in the form in which they have been recognised ever since.

The copy has inscriptions of two owners, Cristoff von Serbolenstarff, 1512, and Joes Guilielmus Vödeker, 1651. Most of the copious annotations can probably be assigned to the sixteenth century. Besides text, the margins feature manuscript manicules, which can emerge from clouds or even (sig. p4 recto) be gauntletted. A group of practice manicules to the recto of the final endpaper includes at centre a penicule.


One volume, 26.8 cms. x 18.7 cms. in binding, quarto, fols. [12], cxvii, [3], cxix-ccvi. signed: AA8 BB4 a-o8 p12 q-z8 A8 B-C6. Title-page with metalcut decoration and Remboldt device, sig. BB4 verso with metalcut portrait of Justinian, sig. a1 recto (fol. i recto) with metalcut decoration and initials, sig. p6 verso - p7 recto with a metalcut tree of consanguinity (“arbor civilis”) spread over two pages. Occasional small printed decorative initials through rest of book. Text printed in red and black, two columns, printed gloss and side notes. Occasional printed manicules and bracketing.

Condition (textblock): Light or medium browning, quire n loose and dusty, tear to top outer corner sig. f4 (affecting a printed side note but all still present). 

Bound in blind-stamped brown calf over wooden boards, spine with three raised bands, covers with triple-fillet frame and stamps in the spaces. Although we have not been able to identify any exact matches on Einbanddatenbank, one of the stamps clearly belongs to the classification ‘Rautengerank | mit Besatz', and probably the sub-classification 'gegabelt' (though we also find stylistic parallels in examples from 'knopfförmig, geteilt'). We note especially the similarities to s015349 (Bronnbach Zisterzienserkloster, active 1484-1489), s005781 (Bamberg Dominikanerkloster, active 1471-1518), and s014052 (a workshop in Nuremberg, active 1478-1517), quite possibly suggesting an origin for the binding in southern Germany. The decoration also includes a rhombus-shaped geometrical stamp and a bouquet. Clasps removed. Loss and peeling to leather, cracked to boards (a strip of paper to front paper strengthening front board), loss to spine.


Cristoff von Serbolenstarff, 1512, and Joes Guilielmus Vödeker, 1651, as discussed above. Annotations to pastedowns and endpapers, also title-page and 120 pages of text, and manicules and underlinings to these and further pages. 


USTC 143045. Adams J618. Moreau I 152 #56. Charles Fairfax Murray, Catalogue of a collection of early French books (2 vols., London 1961), I, #297 (1516 edition).

Recent provenance of this copy: Hartung & Karl 16 (1976) lot 116; as reported in description of Reiss & Sohn October 29 2019, lot 217. (Purchased by us from subsequent vendor).

Bio-Bibliographical Guide to Medieval and Early Modern Jurists, Report No. r322, “Johannes Chappuis” (rev. 2015), (last accessed by us 13 May 2024).