Faith in your pocket

[BIBLE, Russian]

Gospada Nashego Iiususa Khrista Sviatoe Evangelie ot Matfeia/Marka/Luki/Ioanna

[Our Lord Jesus Christ's Holy Gospel of Matthew/Mark/Luke/John]

Publication: Sinodaln. Tip., Moskva, 1907-1909.

[BIBLE, Russian], Gospada Nashego Iiususa Khrista Sviatoe Evangelie ot Matfeia/Marka/Luki/Ioanna

Appealing set of this first miniature edition of the Gospels in Russian, a typographic feat as the text is perfectly readable. Bound in full morocco and in excellent condition, from Vera Tishchenko’s collection – a fine collector’s provenance. Scarce outside Russia.

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Our Notes & References

The first miniature Gospels in Russian – a beautiful set in superb condition, with fine literary and artistic provenance.

Small-format editions became popular in Russia from the late 1830s onwards. They were first literary, and the first, true miniature edition of the Gospels was only this one, published in 1907, by the Synod Printing House. The Gospel of Luke is here in this first edition, the other being in the identical second issue of 1909. A set of the 1909 issue was magnificently bound in Fabergé style by the Stroganov academy and is now kept in the Kremlin museums.

The text is based on the modern Russian translation (as opposed to the more traditional Church Slavonic), first published in St Petersburg in 1819. It is remarkably legible in spite of the size of the volumes.

Interestingly, this remarkable edition was published on the site of the most ancient Russian printing house: indeed the Synod Printing House was erected in 1811 where the Moscow Print Yard was created. There, in 1564, Ivan Fedorov and Petr Timofeev (Mstislavets) published the first dated Russian book, ‘The Apostle’, which included Acts and Epistles of the Apostles.

The first complete edition of the Bible in the Old Church Slavonic was published by Fedorov in 1581 outside Russia, in Ostrog, in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (modern territory of Ukraine). It remained the official version used by the Russian Orthodox Church, until Peter I ordered a new translation of the Bible from the Greek, which appeared during the reign of his daughter Empress Elizaveta, in 1751. The second 1756 revised edition of the Elizabeth Bible remains the official version used by the Russian Orthodox Church.

From the collection of Vera Kvil-Tishchenko (also Kwill, née Tishenko). The daughter of an ex-revolutionary nobleman turned oil and mining manager, Vera gathered a significant art collection, together with her husband, the architect and engineer Isidor Nikolaevich Kvil (1874-1950). Her collection included in particular major porcelain figures, and artworks by Sergei Sudeikin and his circle: she was a close friend of the dancer Olga Glebova-Sudeikina, Sudeikin’s first wife. The famous artist Savelii Sorin (also Sorine) painted her portrait in 1918, known for its appearance in the magazine ‘Zhar-Ptitsa’ [Firebird] (Berlin, 1921. No 2.). Tishchenko also had major editions in her library, including lifetime editions of Pushkin, which she lent, together with some porcelains, to Lifar’s landmark exhibition “Pouchkine et son époque” held in Paris in 1937.


Acquired from the estate of Vera Kvil-Tishchenko (1890-1968), partly dispersed by her heirs in 2023.


Tarakanova O.L., Antikvarnaia kniga, Moskva: Izd-vo MGAP “Mir knigi”, 1996; for the Kremlin set: S. Haag (ed.), Die Welt von Fabergé, Kunst Historisches Museum Wien, no. 131.

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Physical Description

Four volumes (5 x 3.7 cm). Matthew: 346 pp. incl. title (of 348, see ‘Condition’); Mark: 218 pp. incl. title (of 220); Luke: title and 366 pp.; John: 279 pp. incl. title (of 281).


Contemporary full crushed dark green morocco, flat spines with gilt fillets, gilt lettering to covers, green patterned endpapers, all edges gilt; kept in the original slipcase of same leather, internal lining of same paper.


Half-titles removed by the binder, box very minimally rubbed at extremities, otherwise in excellent condition.

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