A Very Early (the First?) Appearance of Cinderella, in Text and Image


(Strassburg: Matthias Schürer, 1510). 211 x 140 mm. (8 1/4 x 5 1/2"). [204] leaves, complete with all five blanks. Seven parts in one volume. FIRST EDITION.

Contemporary pink-stained, blind-stamped half pigskin over wooden boards, raised bands, one brass fore-edge clasp (with renewed leather). WITH SEVEN WOODCUTS, one at the beginning of each story, INCLUDING THE FIRST PRINTED ILLUSTRATION DEPICTING CINDERELLA. Front pastedown with book label of Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow. STC German 335; VD16 G 764. ◆Clasp defective, short superficial crack to head of both joints and to tail of rear joint, a few fissures (of no consequence) in the spine pigskin, leather somewhat darkened (as expected), a handful of round wormholes on the back cover, but the original early 16th century binding still extremely pleasing as an entirely sound survival with considerable antique appeal. Top inch of title leaf renewed (no doubt to obscure a previous ownership), one round marginal wormhole in the first half of the text, then a second joining until the end of the fifth tale (increasing thereafter to 10 at the end of the volume), other trivial imperfections, but A CLEAN, FRESH COPY internally, with excellent margins and rich impressions of the woodcuts.

This collection of seven moral tales by a famed German preacher contains what may be the first printed version of the tale we know as "Cinderella," complete with a woodcut showing our hapless heroine scrubbing the hearth. "Der Eschen Grüdel" (i.e., "Cinderella") is joined here by tales entitled "The Misguided Sheep," "The Hellish Lion," "The Christian Queen," "The Triangular Mirror," "The Rattle-Mouth," and "The Consolation Mirror." All were adapted by Johann Geiler von Kaysersberg (1445-1510) from sermons by French scholar Johannes (Jean) Gerson (1363-1429). Called by Steinmetz "the prince of the pulpit in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries," Geiler was born and raised in Alsace near the town of Kaysersberg, received his master of arts from the University of Freiburg at the age of 19, and later obtained a doctorate in theology from the University of Basel. He went on to preach at the cathedral in Würzburg, before being invited to Strassburg in 1478 by Peter Schott, a senator from that city. Geiler spent the rest of his career in Strassburg, where he was closely associated with the circle of humanist scholars led by Jakob Wimpfeling, known as "the educator of Germany." Geiler sought to reform the Church, but not by the Lutheran mode; he wanted to reawaken Christian morals and adherence to doctrine among Catholics. Britannica notes that the "fervour and eloquence" of his sermons made him so popular that the Strassburg cathedral had to build a new pulpit in the nave of the church, because the chapel could no longer accommodate his congregation. His vivid, engaging oratory drew not only on the Bible for inspiration, but on a variety of contemporary literature, from the Gerson stories included here to his friend Sebastian Brant's "Ship of Fools." While various commentators claim that the story of Cinderella in this collection is "among the earliest" to be printed or illustrated, we have been unable to trace any appearance, printed or visual, that predates it. Our first edition is not a common book, particularly in a period binding: RBH records just four other copies in various bindings sold at auction since 1992.

Price: $27,500.00