A Fine Early 16th Century Augsburg Binding from a Known Workshop


(Basel: Michael Furter, 1504). 220 x 138 mm. (8 x 5 1/2"). CXXII, [10], LXX, [1] leaves.

EXCELLENT CONTEMPORARY BLIND-TOOLED CALF, covers panelled in blind, title stamped in gothic letters at head of upper cover, central panel with vertical row of three large rosettes (EBDB tool s013635), this enclosed by a frame with eight carnation stamps (EBDB tool s013643), then by a roll-tooled frame filled with circles containing flowers, fruit, and stars (EBDB tool r000675; Kyriss 84, Roll 6), lower cover similarly framed, but with central panel divided by diagonal blind rules into four compartments, each containing a large rosette, raised bands, spine panels with one or two floral medallion stamps, upper cover with original brass catches stamped "IVIII," newer clasps and leather straps, probably newer pastedowns, fore edge with the number "75" in ink (subtle repairs to head and tail of spine as well as lower corner on back cover). Title and opening page with decorative woodcut initials, main title and sectional title each with woodcut vignette and full-page woodcut on verso. VD16 T-653; VD16 H-6510; Adams L-1124, L-1123. For the binding: Kyriss 84, Tafel 171, Rolle 6; EinbandDatenbank (EBDB) tools s013635 and r000675, workshop w002075. ◆An ink stain touching text on one leaf and slightly affecting four adjacent leaves, but the vast majority of the contents clean, fresh, and in fine condition. Quarter-inch crack at top of each joint (with leather across the spine consequently becoming a small flap), light signs of wear to leather, hinges mostly open--but the binding entirely sound, with almost no wear at all to the joints. An extremely attractive volume, THE REMARKABLY WELL-PRESERVED BINDING FEATURING FINE, DEEP IMPRESSIONS OF ITS STAMPS.

This is a rare early compilation of Medieval liturgical chants in an appealing binding by an Augsburg workshop. Kyriss dubbed this bindery Hirsch-Rolle I for its distinctive deer (i.e., "hirsch") roll tool, and noted it was active 1483-1532. EBDB, the bindings database of the Berlin State Library, has identified 26 bindings in German libraries from this workshop. The wide, attractive floral roll here is most unusual among the binding's wide array of design elements, from flowers and plants to stars, all contained in tightly packed circles that bring bubbles to mind. Our two texts contain "sequences"--words sung between the Gradual and the Gospel on festival occasions--written by, among others, Gregory the Great, the fourth century bishops Hilarius of Poitiers and Ambrose of Milan, and fifth century Latin Christian poet Coelius Sedulius. They were printed by Michael Furter (d. ca. 1516-17) who operated a press in Basel from 1489 into the second decade of the 16th century. He was especially known for the decorative nature of his volumes. Haebler's "Typenrepertorium" counted 12 sets of embellished woodcut initials Furter employed; examples from two of these sets may be seen here, on the title page of the first work and at the opening of the text in both. The woodcut illustrations here are also notable. The title woodcut (Schramm XXII, 1263) on the first work is a depiction of the Magi presenting gifts to the Christ Child and his mother, done early in the career of Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). It was one of the "Basel Prayer Book Woodcuts," 25 illustrations likely meant for a "Hortulus Animae" Johann Bergmann von Olpe intended to print in 1494 but never issued. A large, striking woodcut depicting the Christ Child at the center of a sunburst, surrounded by medallions with the devices of the four Evangelists, appears on the verso of the title in the first work and on the title page of the second. On the verso of the second title page is a woodcut of the Crucifixion from the "Postilla" by Guillelmus Parisiensis, Basel 1491 (Schramm XXII, 336). This is an especially affecting and detailed scene: Mary Magdalene clings to the foot of the cross, while Jesus looks serenely down at the Virgin Mary, who is collapsing in the arms of another woman as several soldiers jeer. On either side of Christ, the souls of the thieves crucified with him are being taken, one--who had asked to be remembered when Jesus came into his Kingdom--by angels, the other by demons. A banner marked with the SPQR of the Roman Empire flutters in the background. All in all, this is a very pleasing exemplar of post-incunabular book-making.

Price: $9,500.00