A Large-Format Volume from the 1560s in Virtually Pristine Condition


(Dillingen: Sebald Mayer, 1569). 328 x 212 mm. (12 7/8 x 8 3/4"). 18 p.l., 284, [34] leaves (last blank). Second Edition.

HANDSOME CONTEMPORARY GERMAN BLIND-STAMPED PIGSKIN, covers with concentric frames, one featuring medallion portraits, another featuring Lucretia, a piper and a drummer, and two different male-female couples in Renaissance dress, a third roll with Paul, Christ as Salvator Mundi, David, and Moses(?), and a fourth alternating an eagle and a monkey with a mirror, upper cover with stamped title and date MDLXXIIII, raised bands, ink titling, pairs of pigskin ties at head and foot, with two on the fore edge. Front pastedown with armorial bookplate of Christoph von Wolkenstein und Rodnegg, dated 1594. VD16 A 4173. Negligible worming to boards, occasional mild browning or other trivial imperfections, otherwise a fine copy, clean and fresh inside and out.

Offered in a preternaturally well-preserved contemporary binding, this response to the Protestant "Confession of Augsburg" uses the words of Saint Augustine to defend Catholic doctrine. The title is a play on words by the clever Jesuit theologian Hieronynus Torres: the Latin title of the Augsburg Confession is "Confessio Augustana," to which Torres adds a single letter to reclaim Augustine's teachings for the Catholic Church. Protestant writers had used Augustinian arguments to support their cause, and Torres answers them here with the Church Father's own words. The Spaniard Torres (1527-1611) was a professor of theology and chair of that department at the University of Dilligen, which had been founded by the Catholic bishop of Augsburg in 1551 to protect the Catholic faith by training new clergy. He was much respected as a professor there, and at the University of Ingolstadt: "As a teacher of theology," writes Thoelen, "he avoided subtle questions, but explained and proved the dogmas of the Catholic religion with great acuity and clarity." This work also found a receptive audience: the 1567 first edition sold out within a few months. We have been unable to identify our binding by examining Haebler, Strunk, and EDBD, but the Lucretia and Paul rolls are very similar in design to those used in several Bavarian workshops, so it seems likely our volume was bound near its place of printing. Former owner Christoph von Wolkenstein und Rodenegg inherited the Prettau copper mine from his wife's family, and built it into a flourishing concern. He also amassed a significant library at Rodenegg Castle in South Tyrol. He obviously took great care of his books, as the present example manifests only the most insignificant signs of use.