A Lauingen Binding Stamped "1564" with an Atypically Vernacular Caption beneath its Panel Stamp


(Coloniae [Cologne]: Apud Haeredes Arnoldi Birckmanni, 1570). 171 x 114 mm. (6 3/4 x 4 1/2"). 2 p.l., 661, [13] pp., [1] leaf. Second Edition.

FINE CONTEMPORARY BLIND-STAMPED PIGSKIN BY BALTHASAR WERNHER OF LAUINGEN, both covers with swirling roll-tooled border enclosing a panel stamp of the Virgin and Child, with a lengthy subscription in German ("Maria vom stamme David . . ."), front cover with date of 1574 stamped at bottom, raised bands. Woodcut printer's device on title and final leaf, decorative and historiated initials in several different styles. Front pastedown with book label of "A. G. T." (Alan G. Thomas). VD 16 K-1309. For the binding: EBDB p002916. Binding a little splayed, but A FINE COPY, the text remarkably clean and fresh, and THE BINDING ESPECIALLY WELL PRESERVED, its decoration in blind still very sharp, and the pigskin both clean and without any significant wear.

This uncommonly seen Counter-Reformation text comes in a lovely binding by a known workshop, with an unusual panel stamp. The caption at the bottom of the stamp depicting the Virgin and Child contains 24 words describing the lineage of the Virgin, the Annunciation, and the Dedication of the youthful Christ in the Temple. This is a rather long subscription, and it is atypically in the vernacular, rather than Latin. The Einbanddatenbank (EBDB, "Bookbinding Database") of the German Research Foundation attributes this panel stamp, which also appears on a volume in the Bavarian State Library, to Lauingen binder Balthazar Wernher (ca. 1525-74/75), whose bindery began operations around 1567. The date on our binding indicates it was produced near the end of his life. His widow married Jobst Kalhart in 1576, and he continued to run the bindery until the 1620s.

First printed in 1562, the text here is an exposition of Catholic doctrine, partly by means of examining points of difference with "heretics" and "schismatics" and discussing what should be the Catholic attitude toward these two dangerous groups. The Franciscan monk Kling (d. 1556) was one of the most important German Catholic theologians during the Reformation, not only as the author of this and other doctrinal and controversial works from the Catholic point of view, but also as a pastor. Even after the Lutherans took control of Erfurt, Kling, alone, kept up Catholic services there, and when the Cathedral was returned to the Catholics by treaty later on, Kling preached there until his death. This copy was sold at Sotheby's in 1993 for £299, all in.