Bern: Urs Graf-Verlag, 1950-1951. First Thus. Limited edition of 500 copies, this is the first complete facsimile of the Book of Kells, composed of folios featuring 48 mounted full color plates. Volumes I-II bound in full vellum and volume III bound in quarter vellum over paper boards. A set in Fine condition -- bright and complete but for the dust jackets -- measuring 300 x 400mm. Previous owner's bookplate to pastedown of all three volumes. Accompanied by two copies of An Invitation to Subscribe and one copy of Reproductions from the Book of Kells (all three in original paper wraps mildly toned but in excellent condition overall). In extravagance and complexity, few books can rival the Kells manuscript, the only copy of which is housed at Trinity College, Dublin.
"The Book of Kells is the most beautiful manuscript in the world of the Latin Gospels...It is the finest existing example of the Irish monastic school of illumination, which provided Ireland, Britain, and continental Europe with numerous beautiful manuscripts, only a small number of which now remain" (Westwood). Written and decorated in 800 CE in the monastery at Kells, County Meath, the manuscript contains complex interwoven illustrations that "pay tribute to the imagination, taste, and skill of the old Irish artist...an example of the unwearied reverence and patient labour that brought it into being" (Sullivan). The present facsimile, the first of its kind, was created in a limited run of 500 copies, with the first two volumes containing brilliantly detailed and colored facsimile illustrations and the third volume comprised of explanatory essays. Fine (Item #2962)