1517 · Strassburg
by GEILER VON KAISERSBERG, Johann
Strassburg: Johannes Grüninger, 1517. Folio (313 x 205 mm). 2 parts: 110 (recte 106); 92 leaves. Gothic types, double column. Title printed in red and black within a woodcut Renaissance-style border block, thirty-four text illustrations printed from 32 blocks (including several repeats and two illustrations printed from two or three blocks) by the Master H. F. (Hans Furtenbach?), Hans Schäufelein and others; woodcut and metalcut initials. Bifolium D3.4 printed on a slightly smaller sheet. Small tear in gutter of P2.5, repaired in P5, short marginal tears to a couple of leaves. Contemporary German blind-tooled alum-tawed skin over wooden boards, covers with intersecting parallel fillets forming a tall narrow central panel, borders and interstices stamped with repeated impressions of an ave maria banderole, a large rosette, small armorial shield, IHS shield and a leaf tool, two brass fore-edge clasps with catchplates; ms. spine title; pastedowns consisting of large fragments from a fourteenth-century manuscript on vellum, apparently an astronomical text (including several mentions of winds and of celestial movement). Provenance: contemporary marginalia in first few pages of part one; Buxheim, Carthusians, 16th-century inscription on title, armorial inkstamp, purchase inscription on verso of title by Wilhelm von Zell, domicellus (cellarer) of the Buxheim monastery (Dyss buch ist...gekaft worden von dem Edler[?] ... wilhelm von Zell, den Commerz Brüder unnsres Gotzhuss Maria Sals...); Graf von Otstein; Graf Hugo von Waldbott-Bassenheim, sale, Munich (Carl Förster), 20 September 1883.Only Edition of a collection of sermons of the pre-Reformation Alsatian preacher Johannes Geiler (1445-1510), illustrated with woodcuts by the master H. F., Hans Schaufelein, and others, most designed for the edition. Geiler preached in German, largely in the Strassburg Cathedral, from his Latin notes. The published collections of his sermons were thus compiled by auditors, some more accurate than others. The present collection of "little crumbs" (Brösamlin, the title of one of the sermons), recording selected sermons delivered by Geiler in 1507 and 1508, was the work of the Minorite Johann Pauli (d. after 1520), whose renderings of Geiler's sermons (five or six collections are recorded) are considered generally reliable."In temperament and in their ways of working Pauli and Geiler had much in common. Both loved satire and irony mixed with humor, and both favored picturesque stories and cycles of interrelated sermons" (Warnock, art. Pauli, Verfasserlexikon 2 7:372-3). Geiler's sermons were known for his colorful, bold and often down-to-earth language, combined with great erudition and uncommon exempla. The sermons are grouped thematically, the themes being approached from various angles; thus the section relating to merchants (Kaufleute or Kaufmaenner) includes sermons on moral guidelines for commercial behavior and on the sins and temptations of commerce, as well as extended comparisons of merchants to the Devil. Other themes are lions, heresy, the sins of the mouth (or of speech), marriage, the love of god, and hubris, etc.To print his collections of Geiler's sermons Pauli turned to the Strassburg press of Johann Grüninger, who drew on his own extensive stock of woodblocks but also commissioned new woodblocks to illustrate the most important editions, including this one. Ten of the present illustrations are signed by the Master H.F. Showing vivid, almost cartoon-like scenes of everyday life, they were designed for the edition; four are dated 1516. This Swiss monogrammist, possibly a pupil of Hans Baldung, was active from the 1490s to about 1520, and has been variously identified as Hans Furtenbach, Hans Franck, or Hans Fries. Other notable cuts are the splendid title border, overflowing with putti, cornucopiae, arabesques, swags and grotesques, "author portraits" at the head of each part, showing Geiler preaching from a pulpit (A4v), and Geiler and Pauli, the latter collecting the "crumbs" (scraps of writing) from the preacher's desk (a6v), a full-page Ascension cut, and three nearly full-page cuts, including a fine Coronation of the Virgin. VD-16 G717; Adams G-207; Muther, Deutsche Bücherillustration, 1404 & 1443; Schmidt, Répertoire bibliographique strasbourgeois jusque vers 1530, 154 (p. 67); cf. art. Geiler, Verfasserlexikon2 2:1141-1151.
(Inventory #: 3149)