Charlemagne and Charles V in a woodcut by Anton Woensam von Worms. Height of binding 222 mm View larger
Charlemagne and Charles V in a woodcut by Anton Woensam von Worms. Height of binding 222 mm
A fine recueil factice, containing the earliest memoir of Charlemagne
Einhard, c. 770-840

Vita et gesta Karoli Magni [edited by Hermann von Nuenar]

Cologne, Johannes Soter, 1521
First printing of the earliest memoir of Charlemagne (742–814), written perhaps a decade after his death by a former courtier adopting the literary model of Suetonius’ Vita Augusti. The fine title-page illustration, depicting Charlemagne and Charles V together within a border charged with imperial insignia, and also the printer's device, and woodcut initials, were designed and cut by Anton Woensam von Worms (circa 1493/1500–1541).

Bound with San Giorgio, Benvenuto da, conte (1450–1527). De origine Guelphorum, et Gibellinorum. Basel, Andreas Cratander, [January 1519]
Bound with Buonaccorsi, Filippo, called Callimaco Esperiente (1437–1496). Historia de rege Vladislao, seu clade Varnensi. Augsburg, Sigismund Grimm & Marcus Wirsung, [30 May 1519]
Bound with Basse, Heinrich (fl. 1519) Panegiricos genealogiarum illustrium principum domiorum de Anholt. Leipzig, Wolfgang Stöckel, 1519
Subjects
History, German - Early works to 1800
History, Italian - Early works to 1800
Authors/Creators
Einhard, c. 770-840
Artists/Illustrators
Holbein, Ambrosius, c. 1494-c. 1520
Weiditz, Hans II, c. 1500-c. 1536
Woensam, Anton, c. 1500-c. 1541
Printers/Publishers
Soter, Johannes, died 1543/1544
Owners
Fürstlich Fürstenbergische Hofbibliothek (Donaueschingen)
Other names
Basse, Heinrich, active 1519
Buonaccorsi, Filippo, 1437-1496
Neuenar, Hermann, Graf von, 1492-1530
Sancto Georgio, Benvenutus de, 1483-1527
Władysław III Warneńczyk, King of Poland and Hungary, 1424-1444

Einhard
Maingau circa 770 – 840 Seligenstadt

Vita et gesta Karoli Magni [edited by Hermann von Nuenar].

Cologne, Johannes Soter, 1521

quarto (208 × 145 mm), (100) ff. signed A–B4 C6 a–q (alternate signatures of 6 and 4) r6, not foliated or paginated. Woodcut on title-page (173 × 127 mm), three initials, and printer’s device at end.

provenance Fürstlich-Fürstenbergische Bibliothek at Donaueschingen, although without its usual ink stamp — Reiss & Sohn, ‘Auktion 68: Aus einer Süddeutschen Fürstenbibliothek, Teil 1’, Königstein im Taunus, 20 October 1999, lot 53 — Hartung & Hartung, Auktion 119, Munich, 5 May 2008, lot 201

Two small wormholes in first signature, otherwise in faultless state of preservation.

binding contemporary South German alum-tawed pigskin over wooden boards; covers decorated in blind with foliage rolls; one clasp (of two) remaining.

First printing of this famous memoir of Charlemagne (742–814), written perhaps a decade after his death by a former courtier adopting the literary model of Suetonius’ Vita Augusti. Thus Einhard does not record the Emperor’s deeds and public life, but docu­ments his tastes, habits, and appearance, not sparing bad teeth, a limp, and gall stones. In these matters and on a range of other subjects, he records details not found in other sources.

Einhard carried among his friends at the Frankish court the nickname ‘Bezaleel’ and was therefore most probably a metalworker; it is possible he also worked as an architect.1 In the Vita Karoli, Einhard refers to construction of the chapel in Aachen palace (now cathedral), describing its bronze doors and marble columns brought from Ravenna, but he does not elaborate on his own rôle. Some critics have concluded that Einhard was overseer of those building works, noting his interest in Vitruvius, and a project to carve an architectural model in ivory (Dictionary of Art, 10, pp.115–116); however, the nature of his duties, like his real intentions in writ­ing the Vita Karoli, and the date of its composition, remain uncer­tain and matters for scholarly debate.

Charlemagne and Charles v in a woodcut by Anton Woensam von Worms.
Height of binding 222 mm

The editor, Count Hermann von Nuenar (Neuenahr; 1492–1530), provost of Aachen, dedi­cates the book to the Emperor Charles v, contributing a prefatory ‘Breuis narratio de origine & sedibus priscorum Francorum’.2 He published the Vita ‘as part of the current battle of words between France and the Empire: [Neuenahr] sought to put Carolus Magnus firmly at the head of a specifically German Imperial tradition which he expected to see continued and enhanced by Carolus Quintus’.3

The fine title-page illustration, depicting Charlemagne and Charles v together within a border charged with imperial insignia, as well as the printer’s device, and woodcut initials, were designed and cut by Anton Woensam von Worms (circa 1493/1500–1541).4

references Verzeichnis der im deutschen Sprachbe­reich erschienenen Drucke des xvi. Jahrhunderts (Stuttgart 1985), E–726; Index Aureliensis: Catalogus librorum sedecimo saeculo impressorum (Baden Baden 2004), xiv, no. 159.327

Bound with

San Giorgio, Benvenuto da, conte
Casale di Monferrato? 1450 – 1527

De origine Guelphorum, et Gibellinorum, quibus olim Germania, nunc Italia exardet, libellus eruditus. In quo ostenditur, quantum hac in re clariss. Scrip­tores, Bartholus, Panormitanus, Blondus, Platina, & Georgius Merula Alexandrinus, à ueritate aberrauerint.

Basel, Andreas Cratander [January 1519]

quarto (208 × 145 mm), (6) ff. signed a6, not foliated or paginated. Woodcut title-border (156 × 110 mm), signed ah (within medallion, upper left); one woodcut historiated initial.

Signed woodcut border by Ambrosius Holbein

First edition of this brief narrative by the court tutor and ambassador of the marchesi of Montferrato, who served a diplomatic mission in Germany. The prefatory letter of the publisher Cratander (dated 7 January 1519) was reprinted in editions printed at Bologna in 1520 and at Venice in 1531.5

The signed woodcut border by Ambrosius Holbein was first employed in 1517.6

reference Verzeichnis der im deutschen Sprachbe­reich erschienenen Drucke des xvi. Jahrhunderts (Stuttgart 1992), S–1582

Bound with

Buonaccorsi, Filippo, called Callimaco Esperiente
San Gimignano 1437 – 1496 Kraków

Historia de rege Vladislao, seu clade Varnensi.

Augsburg, Sigismund Grimm & Marcus Wirsung, [30 May 1519]

quarto (208 × 145 mm), (58) ff. signed a–n4 o6, not foliated or paginated. Title printed in red and black within a woodcut compartment (176 × 130 mm) indistinctly dated 1518; three woodcut initials, printer’s device (124 × 125 mm) on penultimate page.

First printing of this biography of Vladislas iii, king of Poland (1424–1444), the hero and victim of the Polish-Hungarian expedition against the Turks that ended in the dis­aster of Varna (1444), intended by its author to provide political guidance to Polish statesmen. The author was tutor to the royal children and counsellor and roving ambassador for King Casimir iv and for Casimir’s successor, John Albert. His work was brought into print by Sigismund Scheufler (1475–1522) and Arsacius Prunner and was reprinted in compen­diums put together by Chalcocondylas, Lonicer, Kromer, and others.

Compartment on title-page cut by Hans Weiditz

The compartment on the title-page and printer’s device were cut by Hans Weiditz and first employed by Grimm and Wirsung on 17 September 1518 and 24 March 1519 respectively.7

Five copies in North American libraries are known to the writer

● Cambridge, Harvard University, Houghton Library, Ott 237.1* and Nor 2519 ● Lawrence, Uni­versity of Kansas, Spencer Library, Summerfield C1349 ● New Haven, Yale University, Beinecke Library, DK426.5 C35 ● New York, New York Public Library, *KB 1519

references Carl Göllner, Turcica. Die europäischen Türkendrucke des xvi. Jahrhunderts (Bucharest & Berlin 1961), no. 123; critical edition by Tadeusz Kowalewski and Irmina Lichońska, Bibliotheca latina medii et recentioris aevi 3 (Warsaw 1959); Theodorus Wierzbowski, Bibliotheca Polonica (re­print Nieuwkoop 1961), no. 50; Karol Estreicher, Bibliografia Polska (reprint New York 1964), xiv, p.21; Index Aureliensis: Catalogus librorum sedecimo saeculo impressorum (Baden-Baden 1976), vi, 129.595; Verzeichnis der im deutschen Sprachbereich erschienenen Drucke des xvi. Jahrhunderts (Stuttgart 1984), B–9790

Bound with

Basse, Heinrich
fl. 1519

Panegiricos genealogiarum illustrium principum domiorum de Anholt.

Leipzig, Wolfgang Stöckel, 1519

quarto (208 × 145 mm), (24) ff. signed a–d6, not foliated or paginated. Armorial woodcut (135 × 110 mm) on title-page, repeated on verso, and again on the penultimate page.

The earliest genealogy of the princes of Anhalt, with a woodcut displaying their insignia

Only contemporary edition of the earliest known work on the genealogy of the princes of Anhalt, commencing with Bernhard iii, who died in 1212. The author, prior of the monastery at Ballenstedt, had agreed (or commenced to write) this short work around 1500.8 It was reprinted in Johann Christoph Beckmann’s Accessiones historiae Anhaltinae (Zerbst 1716).

The book is rare within Germany and elsewhere no copy is located by the writer

● Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, 2 an: Bh 1615 ● Dessau, Landesbibliothek Sachsen-Anhalt9 ● Gießen, Universi­täts­bibliothek10 ● Leipzig, Universitätsbibliothek ‘Bibli­otheca Albertina’, Hist. Sax. 827 ● Zwickau, Ratsschulbibliothek, 4.9.40. (3)

references Reinhold Specht, Bibliographie zur Geschichte von Anhalt (Magdeburg 1930), p.53; Verzeich­nis der im deutschen Sprachbereich erschienenen Drucke des xvi. Jahrhunderts (Stuttgart 1984), B–732 (no copy located)

Height of binding 222 mm

1. Blaise de Montesquiou-Fézensac, ‘L’arc de triomphe d’Eginhard’ in Karolingische und Ottonische Kunst, edited by Bernhard Bischoff (Baden-Baden 1957), pp.43–49.

2. About 134 manuscripts of the Vita Karoli survive; the one printed here was written at Reims circa 1148 for Wibald von Stablo, and is now British Library, Add. Ms. 21109; see Matthias M. Tischler, Einharts Vita Karoli (Hannover 2001), pp.28, 648–659, 1667–1672 and passim.

3. D.A. Bullough, in The English Historical Review 85 (1970), p.60.

4. For an explication of the title-page woodcut, see Stephanie Leitch, ‘The Wild Man, Charlemagne and the German body’ in Art History 31 (2008), pp.283–302 (copy in Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Sig. 127.16 Hist., reproduced). Johann Jacob Merlo, Kölnische Künstler in alter und neuer Zeit (reprint Nieuwkoop 1966), p.1030, nos. 407c (title) and 510 (device); Wolfgang Schmitz, ‘Das humanistische Verlagsprogramm Johannes Soters’ in Humanimus in Köln, edited by James Mehl (Cologne 1991), pp.83, 116 (title-woodcut reproduced as Abb. 4).

5. Alberto Serra-Zanetti, L’arte della stampa in Bologna (Bologna 1959), no. 460.

6. Frank Hieronymus, Oberrheinische Buchillustration, 2: Basler Buchillustration 1500–1545, catalo­gue of an exhibition held in the Universitätsbibliothek Basel (Basel 1984), no. 264; F.W.H. Hollstein, Dutch & Flemish etchings, engravings & woodcuts 1450–1700 (Roosendaal 1988), xiv, p.16 no. 2 (citing present usage).

7. Campbell Dodgson, Catalogue of early German and Flemish woodcuts preserved in the… British Museum (London 1911), ii, p.149, no. 4 and p.180, no. 135.

8. Jean François, Bibliothèque générale des écrivains de l’Ordre de Saint Benoît (Bouillon 1777–1778), i, p.96.

9. Located by the Index Aureliensis: Catalogus librorum sedecimo saeculo impressorum (Baden Baden 1968), iii, 114.646 (not traced in local opac).

10. Index Aureliensis, op. cit., 114.646 (not traced in local opac).

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